Categories: Schenectady County
If you’re going to the Travers Stakes today, you already have your hat, your dress or snappy suit.
“In general, at this stage of the game, people know what they’re wearing to Travers,” said Pam Worth, owner of Spoken Boutique on Church Street.
Hopefully, you’ve got your restaurant reservations for after the races. And you know the weather is going to be beautiful today.
The summer racing season reaches a fever pitch today with the 141st running of the Mid-Summer Derby at Saratoga Race Course.
And racing officials couldn’t have planned it on a better day.
Mostly sunny skies with a high about 83 degrees and low humidity will greet racing fans once an early morning patchy fog burns off.
“It doesn’t get much better,” said Warren Snyder, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Albany. “Most people would consider it delightful.”
Rachel Alexandra fans will enjoy good weather on Sunday also.
“The whole weekend will be like that,” said Tom Kines, meteorologist with Accu-Weather in State College, Pa., of the low humidity and clear skies.
Sunday’s high, when the reigning Horse of the Year will race in the Personal Ensign, is expected to be warmer, between 85 and 90.
But humidity will stay low until about Tuesday, Kines predicted.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out to see the $1 million Travers Stakes, which has a crowded field of 11 this year.
Rain bogged down the Travers crowd last year, drawing a mere 34,221 people through the turnstiles, the smallest Travers crowd in 30 years.
More than an inch and a half of rain fell that day.
The largest Travers crowd in recent years was the 66,122 people who turned out in 2003.
Racing fans won’t be the only big crowd in town today.
Officials expect 15,000 people to turn out for the Big Day Out at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where eight hard rock and metal bands are playing on two stages for a chock-full day of music that starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 11.
Fortunately, the times won’t coincide with people coming into or leaving the track, said city police Capt. Michael Chowske.
“There will be some mixture [of the two groups] but the road is big enough to handle the traffic,” he said, referring to South Broadway and Exit 13 of the Adirondack Northway.
Today’s concert is the last special of the season at SPAC.
A few extra police officers will be assigned to the area around the track tonight as fans leave and go to Siro’s or the Horseshoe Inn.
Chowske will be there, as well as the Police Department’s two working horses. The equines also will work downtown tonight.
Early this morning, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market will offer its “Apples and Carrots are for Thoroughbreds” event, where customers buy apples and carrots from local vendors and donate them to a bin that market coordinator Suzanne Carreker-Voigt will take to retired racehorses living at Old Friends at Cabin Creek in Greenfield Center.
People also can pay a donation for pieces of apple crisp and carrot cake.
“We all try to be enthusiastic about the things that help each other,” Carreker-Voigt said. “We’re open early enough for people to get all their shopping done and get to the track.”
Once they get to the track today, bettors can challenge themselves by turning in a special double being offered this weekend only: pick the winner of the Travers today and the Personal Ensign on Sunday.
It’s the first wager offered over two days that racing officials can remember.
On Sunday, fans will receive a free Rachel Alexandra button with her picture and the date. And people can buy more Rachel merchandise at the NYRA store, including T-shirts, baseball caps and 50 limited edition “Were you there?” posters autographed by the horse’s connections.
A larger-than-normal Sunday crowd is expected at the track as well.
“Some people will come in the morning to get the buttons, and other people will just come for the feature race,” Chowske predicted.
What: The 141st running of the Travers Stakes
Where: Saratoga Race Course, Union Avenue
When: Gates open at 7 a.m. First post time is 11:35 a.m.
How much: $5 grandstand admission and $10 clubhouse entry. Reserved seating is another $18 in the grandstand and $26 more in the clubhouse, and those tickets go on sale at 7 a.m.
Breakfast: $10 admission charge and no parking refunds.
Feature race: Travers Stakes is the 12th of 13 races; post time is 5:46 p.m.