The 13th annual Travers Festival returns to the Capital Region in anticipation of the summer’s most celebrated Thoroughbred race, the $1 million Travers presented by Shadwell Farm. A nine-day tribute to the “Mid-Summer Derby”, the Travers Festival culminates in the 139th running of the Travers presented by Shadwell Farm, on Saturday, August 23.
The Travers Festival, sponsored by the New York Lottery, kicks off on Saturday, August 16, and continues through Sunday, August 24. Within that time period, the Travers Festival will help generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities through a variety of community-wide fundraising events and activities including concerts, wine tastings, golf tournaments, art exhibits, a hot-dog eating contest, an ice-cream eating contest, a battle of the brews, and more.
The Travers Festival gets underway with a pair of Grade 1 races at America’s racetrack: the Alabama and the Sword Dancer Invitational, setting the stage for a week of blockbuster competition at Saratoga, including nine graded stakes.
The sport’s top three-year-old fillies will run in the $600,000 Alabama at a mile and a quarter; while premier older turf horses will race in the $500,000 Sword Dancer at a mile and a half.
Sunday, August 17
For the cool summer nights, all Saratoga Race Course patrons will receive a Saratoga Long Sleeve T-Shirt free with paid admission, while supplies last. The premium giveaway is sponsored by The Adirondack Trust Company.
Paying tribute to Saratoga’s rich heritage and culture, the Saratoga Springs History Museum will present the 30th annual Saratoga Springs Antique Show at the Canfield Casino. The show features antiques from dealers from all over the eastern United States offering a variety of furnishings, jewelry, art and more. The show runs from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is $7 per person. For more information, visit http://www.saratogasprings-historymuseum.org.
Monday, August 18
Head to the track for today’s feature race, the Union Avenue (NYB). Post Time is 1 p.m.
Then, check out the backyard for a culinary competition like no other: the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. A 12-minute consumption challenge, the contest will test the talents of the area’s most dogged eaters. Those wishing to enter can sign up prior to the frank fest.
Tuesday, August 19
Take a break on this “dark Tuesday” and visit the NYRA Recreation Center in Saratoga Springs for La Fiesta, a festival celebrating backstretch cultural traditions through music, food, the arts and much more. La Fiesta is free and open to the public. It begins at 5 p.m. For more information, call (518) 584-0400 x133.
Wednesday, August 20
Racing fans can cool down at the track with the Stewart’s Shops Annual Ice Cream Eating Contest. One of the best ways to beat the summer heat, those wishing to enter the “chilly” competition can sign up for the kids, teens or adult categories near the jockey silks room. The contest begins at 2 p.m.
After the races, join the Belmont Child Care Association for a Western round-up dinner and action fundraiser honoring leading trainer Todd Pletcher and his wife Tracy. Held at the Saratoga City Center, from 6:30 p.m.until midnight, tickets are $250 per person and can be reserved by calling (516) 527-4746.
Thursday, August 21
Celebrate the winner of the 2007 Travers Stakes, Street Sense, and his connections: owner James Tafel, trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Calvin Borel with an evening of dinner and dancing at the 8th Annual Travers Celebration. The Travers Celebration is the only evening fundraiser held at Saratoga Race Course and annually raises $100,000 for charitable causes. Enjoy cocktails at 7:30 p.m. and a gourmet dinner at 8:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Backstretch Employee Service Team of New York (B.E.S.T.) and the Double H Ranch. To purchase tickets, call (518) 383-6183 until July 23, and then (518) 584-6200 x4233.
Friday, August 22
The backyard will play host to the area’s best brews as thirsty adults enjoy the ultimate in beer tasting: the 11th Annual Battle of the Brews. The festival will feature some of the best microbrewery beers in the area with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross Adirondack Saratoga Chapter. For ticket information, call (518) 792-6545.
On the eve of the Travers, the feature race is the $400,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares. This Grade 1 affair will be run on the turf at 10 furlongs.
Saturday, August 23 – TRAVERS DAY
It’s Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course with a special first post time at High Noon.
The gates open at 7 a.m. for the traditional dash to the backyard (a tamer version of the running of the bulls) as fans stake out their territory to watch the 139th running of the Travers presented by Shadwell Farm. The sport’s top three-year-olds clash in the oldest stakes race in North America at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter.
Travers Day will also feature the world’s premier Grade 1 dirt sprint for three-year-olds, the NetJets King’s Bishop.
Two additional graded stakes, the Bernard Baruch Handicap and the Victory Ride, will round out the summer’s most spectacular sports spectacle at Saratoga.
Sunday, August 24
The Travers Festival concludes with a backstretch art exhibit and sale at Saratoga Race Course. Featuring black and white photos of life along the backstretch, the exhibit showcases the images of dozens of backstretch workers. The exhibit is a project of Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council’s Latino Community Advocacy Program which provides English classes and bilingual assistance to backstretch workers. For more information, call (518) 587-3158.
Wilton Mall will host a free Family Fun Day featuring clowns, face painting and carnival games. Sponsored by Homes for Orphaned Pets Exist (H.O.P.E.), families can adopt kittens and cats from Noon until 5 p.m. For more information, contact (518) 885-0829.
For a complete listing of Travers Festival events, contact the Saratoga County Tourism Department at 1-800-526-8970 or visit http://www.saratoga.org. The 2008 Travers Festival is presented by the New York Lottery.