Saratoga County

Travers first, Irene follows

The weather is expected to be partly sunny for the 142nd running of the Travers Stakes on Saturday a

Travers Stakes

On television: 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday, NBC

Travers Eve Party: 7:30 p.m. today in downtown Saratoga Springs.

The weather is expected to be partly sunny for the 142nd running of the Travers Stakes on Saturday afternoon, with troublesome weather from Hurricane Irene not arriving until late Saturday or early Sunday.

The Travers Stakes is the most important thoroughbred horse race of the summer meet at the historic Saratoga Race Course on Union Avenue. The New York Racing Association expects between 45,000 and 50,000 horse racing fans at the flat track on Saturday, one of the biggest crowds of the summer.

Local restaurants and retail businesses say Travers weekend is one of the biggest and most profitable of the year.

“It is one of the busiest days of the year next to New Year’s,” said Sage Cerone of Pennell’s Restaurant at 284 Jefferson Street. She said the family-owned eatery will serve as many as 400 dinners Saturday evening.

“Travers weekend is like icing on the cake for Saratoga Springs,” said Jeff Clark, president of the Downtown Business Association.

Clark said Saratoga Race Course is reporting increases in attendance and betting this summer. “When they are happy, generally we will be happy,” Clark said about the track and downtown.

Joe Villani, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said Saturday will be partly sunny, warm and humid with high temperatures in the lower 80s. He didn’t rule out the possibility of an afternoon shower but said this weather system is not directly associated with Hurricane Irene, coming up the East Coast.

The stormy weather will come into the Capital Region late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, he said. There is a possibility of torrential rain, high winds, and flooding Sunday.

Roger Goldsmith, owner of Crafters Gallery at 427 Broadway, said most people are at the race track Saturday so the Friday and Sunday of Travers weekend are big days for his shop, which specializes in horse-racing artwork, photos, and track memorabilia. “We usually have a really good Sunday,” Goldsmith said. But this Sunday doesn’t sound good. “Mother nature has the final say,” Goldsmith said.

Traffic control

Sgt. Andrew Prestigiacoma, who heads the city Police Department’s Traffic Safety Division, will have about 25 traffic control people out in full force on Saturday, bringing people into the city and then directing them out later in the day.

“We get our highest attendance for the Travers and the most traffic,” he said.

Capt. Michael Chowske said, “This is not new to us, we do this every year.”

He said the state Department of Transportation will have message signs on the Northway on Saturday advising people coming to the Travers to use Exit 13 rather than Exit 14 because of bridge construction there.

Special Travers weekend events are scheduled including a free Travers Eve Party in downtown Saratoga Springs starting at 7:30 tonight with some of the country’s leading jockeys signing autographs in the parking lot of the Downtowner Motel.

Some stores on Broadway will be giving out commemorative Travers Stakes items such as “Horse Squishy” foam figurines for children. Reggie’s Red Hot Feetwarmers will stroll along Broadway playing ragtime tunes. Family-friendly entertainers Maryleigh and the Fauves, the Racing City Chorus, Sparkles the Juggler, face painter P.J. Duell and balloon artists Mr. and Mrs. Bill will also be performing along Broadway.

Many local restaurants will be featuring live bands tonight and some restaurants will be giving away Mardi Gras beads with a Travers Stakes logo.

Mayor Scott Johnson said he will be in the city box at the track on Saturday afternoon. But it is uncertain whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be at the track.

Dan Silver, a NYRA spokesman, said, “The governor has not given us any indication to this point that he will be here.” Silver said NYRA is pleased with the 2012 summer racing meet so far. “We are thrilled with our numbers.”

Attendance is up 3.7 percent and on track betting is up 9.9 percent this summer compared to the summer of 2010.

Categories: Schenectady County

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