Saratoga County

Saratoga Race Course offering students unique incentive to visit

The New York Racing Association will offer college students a free day at the races later this summe

The New York Racing Association will offer college students a free day at the races later this summer plus a chance to win tuition money.

In NYRA’s first-ever promotion directed at college students, those with a valid college identification will be treated to free grandstand seats at historic Saratoga Race Course on Sept. 4.

The students will also have a chance after each of the 10 races to win $1,000 towards their tuition.

“There is no better setting for someone to see horse racing for the first time than at Saratoga,” said Hal Handel, NYRA’s executive vice president and chief operations officer.

Handel said the first-ever College Day at the race course on Union Avenue is a way to introduce younger people to the excitement and beauty of thoroughbred horse racing.

“It’s a great way to showcase the sport and the facility,” Handel said on Wednesday.

The College Day at the races will be held during the 36-day racing season’s second “twilight” racing program with a later post time of 2:30 p.m.

In addition to the free admission, the first 1,000 college students through the gates will get free commemorative race course T-shirts, and there will be a live, post-race concert by the Guthrie Brothers in the track’s backyard area.

NYRA is planning on publicizing the day at local colleges such as Skidmore College, University at Albany, Siena College, Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “We will give it a pretty good blast,” Handel said.

“We will do something electronically with the schools,” he said. “We will do everything we can to let the campuses know what’s going on [at Saratoga Race Course]. We plan to reach out to the colleges by Aug. 1,” he said.

Most of the colleges in the Capital Region start classes in late August. The exceptions are Skidmore College, where classes start shortly after Labor Day, and Union College, whose fall term begins Sept. 8.

At UAlbany, for example, classes start Aug. 31 but students start returning to campus Aug. 27, according to a college spokesman.

Handel said the College Day at the races was done with great success at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., this spring, where the University of Kentucky is located.

“They were very happy with it,” Handel said about the Keeneland college promotion. He said NYRA took the idea for the College Day from the historic Keeneland race course, which is sometimes compared to Saratoga Race Course.

“We are excited to provide our college students with a reason to visit Saratoga before heading back to school,” Handel said.

“We look forward to offering them the chance to win scholarship money as well as a number of other great prizes and we’d like to wish them good luck with the new school year,” Handel said in a written statement.

The other prizes include iPods, iTunes gift cards, digital cameras and a $250 airline gift card, in addition to the drawing for $1,000 in tuition money after each race.

The College Day twilight racing program on Friday, Sept. 4, will launch the track’s Labor Day weekend festivities, which include a downtown music festival and special events Sept. 5, 6 and 7 at the track.

The racing season starts July 29 and ends Sept. 7.

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