SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The 87th running of the prestigious Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney, one of North America’s premier races for older males, will headline a day of world class thoroughbred racing and special events at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 2.
The Whitney will be the highlight of an enhanced racing card that includes five stakes. Joining the Whitney Day program this year will be the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for older sprinters, and the $100,000 Lure stakes. The $100,000 De La Rose will also once again be part of the Whitney Day festivities.
The 1 1/8-mile Whitney received a significant purse increase over its 2013 level, having been previously worth $750,000.
“Our newly enhanced Whitney Day is intended to create a major event to match the energy and anticipation that accompany the Travers,” said the New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay. “While the Travers is Saratoga’s signature event, we believe the Whitney can have a similar impact at the start of the season and add to the already robust $200 million economic impact that Saratoga Race Course generates for the region.”
This year’s Whitney coincides with the 150th anniversary of the first thoroughbred race run on the current site of the Saratoga Race Course. The milestone is one year removed from the yearlong, community-wide celebration of the sesquicentennial of the first organized thoroughbred race meeting in Saratoga Springs which took place at the track today known as Horse Haven, located on the other side of Union Avenue.
On Saturday, guests will be invited to enter a Twitter contest for the chance to be named the “Fan of the Day.” Participating fans are instructed to follow @TheNYRA on Twitter and re-tweet their on-track location using the hashtag #WhitneyFan for the chance to win the opportunity to watch the Whitney from a special viewing location.
Shea Leparoux, wife of jockey Julien Leparoux and daughter of trainer Mike Mitchell, will perform “God Bless America” in the winner’s circle during the afternoon.
Saratoga Race Course will continue a new tradition in honor of the winning connections of the Whitney when the winner is feted with a special custom-designed horse blanket made of hundreds of Marylou Whitney pink roses. The blanket was commissioned by her husband John Hendrickson, who serves as a special advisor on The New York Racing Association, Inc. Reorganization Board of Directors.
The Whitney will also be distinguished by a sterling silver, three-handled chalice trophy that will be designated for the winning owner of the race. The trophy is adorned with the Whitney crest to commemorate one of Saratoga’s most prestigious and historic races. The Whitney Trophy and Whitney rose blanket will be on display in the winner’s circle prior to the Whitney which goes to post at 5:46 p.m. and will be televised on NBC.
Whitney weekend will also feature $1 million in guaranteed wagers for racing fans, including a $100,000 Pick 6 on Friday; and a $150,000 Pick 6 and $750,000 Late Pick 4 on Saturday.
Saturday will mark the return of the sixth annual Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing, which celebrates the rich partnership between The New York Racing Association and Fasig-Tipton with a variety of special events. The festival includes the “Best Turned Out Horse” award, during which Fasig-Tipton will recognize the hard work that goes into daily grooming with a special prize for the groom of the best-turned-out horse participating in the De La Rose. The award will be presented to the winning groom in the winner’s circle prior to the race.
Additionally, the Lord & Taylor pop-up shop will return to the Saratoga Pavilion from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Track patrons will be invited to dress their best for the chance to be crowned Most Fashionable at Saratoga. Two winners every week each receive a $250 Lord & Taylor gift card and have the opportunity to present a trophy in the winner’s circle.
For additional information about events at Saratoga Race Course, visit www.nyra.com/saratogaevents.