Saratoga County

Zendaya concert packs the track

The grandstand was full and the picnic area was bustling, but there weren’t any races Sunday as thou

The grandstand was full and the picnic area was bustling, but there weren’t any races Sunday as thousands filtered into the Saratoga Race Course.

Instead, screams of joy came from children as Disney Channel star Zendaya took the stage as part of the race course’s 33rd annual Open House and Family Fun Day.

Zendaya is known for her starring role as Rocky Blue in the Disney Channel series, “Step It Up!” She was also the runner-up on this past season of “Dancing With The Stars.”

This summer, Zendaya is performing in a select few cities in support of her upcoming debut album, slated for release in the fall. Zendaya has also recently released a book, “Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence,” and is working on a fashion line inspired by the Disney Channel series.

She was joined on stage by a full band and back-up dancers, all of an impressively young age. The high-energy performance began with, “Swag it Out,” Zendaya’s first independent single released in 2011.

It’s clear where her roots lie, however. All of her songs, including her newest single, “Replay,” are electronic and heavy with dance beats, leaving Zendaya with the opportunity to flex her strongest muscle: her ability to dance.

Patti Alexopoulous of Clifton Park took her 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, and her 9-year-old friend, Paige Bruzdzinski, to see the concert. The girls are fans of “Step It Up!” and couldn’t wait to see Zendaya.

Alexopoulous thought the Open House was a fun way to get people to the track.

“We loved it. Walking around and seeing the vendors and activities was great,” she said.

The girls had a great time seeing the animals and other entertainment and, complete with their clown noses, enjoyed the highlight of the day as Zendaya took the stage.

Concert a new offering

The free concert was the first in recent memory.

Rodnell Workman, vice president and chief marketing officer at the race course, said the decision to bring live music back to the track was a historic one.

“We wanted a big splash to kick off the 150th anniversary celebration. We’re always looking to reach fans in new ways, to get younger and more diverse, and to introduce the track to a new crowd,” he said.

Saratoga150 celebrations will continue throughout the racing season to honor the beginning of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga.

“One great thing about the race course is that it’s run by NYRA as much as it is by the community. It’s a true partnership,” Workman said.

Nearly 22,000 people attended the free event, which makes it one of the largest open houses in the race course’s history, he said. And that’s very “swag,” indeed.

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