SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. will welcome racing fans to Saratoga Race Course for its signature day of the summer season to witness the 145th running of the Travers Stakes on Saturday, August 23.
The Travers will carry a record purse of $1.25 million and is poised to feature a showdown between the nation’s top 3-year-old thoroughbreds – 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, 2014 Wood Memorial and Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong, 2014 Haskell Invitational champion Bayern, and 2014 Belmont Derby winner Mr. Speaker.
Travers Day will feature three other graded stakes: the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King’s Bishop; the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina; and the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa. Saturday’s Ballerina is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race with the winner gaining an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
The Travers (post time 5:45 ET) and the Ballerina will be broadcast live on NBC as a part of the “Summer at Saratoga: Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Saratoga Race Course will open its gates on Travers Day at 7 a.m. with a special first post time of 11:35 a.m. Grandstand admission is $10 and Clubhouse admission is $15. Preferred parking is available for $15 and general parking for $10. Free parking is available within easy walking distance across Union Avenue. No coolers larger than 12-by-18 inches will be allowed in the Clubhouse or on the apron. Breakfast on the Clubhouse porch and backstretch tram tours are not available on Travers Day.
Travers Day will feature $1.2 million in guaranteed wagers, including a $200,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 and a $1 million Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4, which both end with the Travers (Race 12).
Guests on Travers Day will enjoy live musical entertainment throughout the morning and afternoon. Additionally, guests on Saturday 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 tweet using #TraversFan by 3 p.m. for the chance to win a unique viewing experience for the Travers.
First run in 1864, the Travers is the oldest major stakes race in the country for 3-year-olds. The winning owner will be presented with the official trophy of the Travers, the Man O’ War Cup. Named for the eponymous legendary thoroughbred and donated by Mrs. Samuel D. Riddle, the gold trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. is inscribed with the names of the winners of the 144 previous editions of the Travers. The winning owner will also receive a gold plated replica of the Man O’ War Cup as a permanent keepsake.
Additionally, the winning owner will be honored with one of Saratoga’s most beloved traditions, the annual changing of the Travers canoe. Dating back to 1961, the canoe sitting upon the infield pond at Saratoga Race Course is painted in the colors of the winning connections of the reigning Travers champion. The canoe itself has been a fixture at the track since 1926.
As the preferred timepiece sponsor of Saratoga Race Course, Longines will present special watches to the winning owner, trainer and jockey of the Travers.
The celebratory week leading up to the Travers will include the official party of the Mid-Summer Derby – the 14th annual Travers Celebration on Thursday, August 21 at 7 p.m. This year’s event will honor owner Willis D. Horton; trainer D. Wayne Lukas; and jockey Luis Saez, the connections of 2013 Travers winner Will Take Charge.
Sponsored by The New York Racing Association, Ketel One Vodka and Coors Light, the event will begin with cocktails circling the famed jockey fountain outside the Clubhouse gates. A formal seated dinner catered by Mazzone Hospitality will be served inside the At the Rail Pavilion at 8 p.m. The evening will also include a silent auction; as well as dancing and music from the Times Square Orchestra.
The 2014 Travers Celebration is co-chaired by Mrs. Jo Ann Oreffice, Mr. D. Wayne Lukas, and Mr. George R. Hearst III. Cocktail attire is suggested. A limited number of tickets are available for $300 per person. Tickets may be purchased via email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-659-2332. Proceeds benefit the Backstretch Employee Service Team and the Times Union Hope Fund.
For more information about Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course, visit www.nyra.com.