This year marks 150 years of Saratoga Race Course’s Travers Stakes.
Saratoga Springs and the New York Racing Association don’t want residents to forget.
In preparation for the big anniversary, NYRA and city officials are teaming up to decorate the city in red Travers banners, host a contest to paint store windows, host a jockey autograph session and bring in live music to the area. Officials, including Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, NYRA CEO and President Dave O’Rourke and Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly, made the announcement Friday morning outside of City Hall.
“Sometimes you forget how special something is because you have it here,” Shimkus said. “This is our way of reminding people.”
The Travers began in 1864, and the racing community celebrates it each year as the go-to event of the season. Jockey Javier Castellano, who won the race in 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 and, most recently, 2018, spoke at the announcement and said winning the Travers for the first time was a highlight of his career.
“I love to be participating one more time this year with the best jockeys in the country,” Castellano said. “And to win the Travers, I’m very fortunate to be here.”
Starting on Tuesday, city officials will be decorating Broadway in 20 red Travers banners so residents are reminded of the race. And on Aug. 20, fans can meet their favorite jockeys during autograph sessions downtown to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.
Most notably, officials announced a Travers window-decorating contest between local shops, businesses and restaurants The top three businesses, which will be judged, will be recognized at the Travers post-position draw. The contest also ties in fans, who can sign up at any of the locations to win reserved clubhouse seats until Aug, 19.
“Planning started about a year ago,” O’Rourke said. “We’ve been working with the community leaders since we left last year. Obviously, we knew 150 was coming up, which is a key point of this meet. Now we can build up the energy for it.”
Shimkus said the city is still notifying merchants of the contest and book live entertainment.