On-track restaurant tables that take reservations are nearly sold out for Travers Day, but you can still snag a spot for another day of the meet, including Sunday, when Rachel Alexandra runs in the Personal Ensign Stakes.
“We’re practically sold out,” said the aptly named Stephen Travers, food, beverage and group sales director for the New York Racing Association.
On-track restaurants are also nearly booked today and Friday in the run-up to the 141st Travers Stakes.
About 35 seats are still available in the upper Carousel Restaurant, Travers said. The cost is $55 per person and includes the lunch buffet, clubhouse admission, program, tax and gratuity.
About 35 seats in the luxury suites also are available. They include a hot buffet and open bar.
The reservation phone number for all restaurants is 1-888-516-NYRA (6972).
Also, Saratoga Bridges still has tables open for its annual fundraiser, Travers Day at the Races. The lunch starts around 11 a.m. at the Carousel Restaurant and the organization has “a few tickets left,” said spokeswoman Pamela Polacsek.
Tickets are $125 per person and include a racing program, clubhouse admission, one cocktail, the buffet and reserved seating. Adirondack Trust Co. President Charles Wait will be the banquet’s special guest. For tickets, call 587-0723, ext. 1242, or visit www.saratogabridges.org.
Breakfast is another option for diners who are also early birds. It starts at 7 a.m. with a buffet that costs $14.95 for adults and $7.95 for children ages 3 to 12. A $10 clubhouse admission fee also applies.
Many other dining options besides the sit-down restaurants are available the day of the Mid-Summer Derby, including the various bars on track, the new Shake Shack and Blue Smoke and Restaurant Row, as well as various other food vendors.
And speaking of bars, the ones that offer liquor will serve up a special Travers cocktail on request. The $12 drink includes Grey Goose vodka and orange juice.
One bonus this year; if you do get a table on Travers Day or any other day during the meet, tipping before you even sit down is no longer accepted as it was before, when diners would tip maitre d’s and captains just to get a table.
The New York Racing Association did away with those positions, replacing them with hosts and seaters who are not tipped, Travers said.
“It means that you open the tables to more people, which is a good thing,” he said.
On the remaining days of the racing meet, here’s the rundown if you want to get a table at one of the on-track restaurants.
The Turf Terrace, Club Terrace and The Porch all have seating charges per person and a minimum order of $15. Entree prices range from $17 to $29. See details at www.nyra.com.
Walk-ups are accepted at any of the restaurants that don’t have buffets, like the Turf Terrace, Club Terrace and The Porch. Sometimes people who have reservations don’t show up, and on slow days there’s likely to be openings as well.
“There’s always a chance you can get a table,” Travers said.
The At the Rail Pavilion and Carousel Restaurant accept groups of various sizes at their buffets.
Travers said there are still many restaurant tables available Sunday, when NYRA officials expect a big crowd to see Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra race in the Personal Ensign. But trackgoers are probably not thinking much further ahead than the Travers Stakes right now.
“We’ll have lots of phone calls on Sunday morning saying, ‘Can I have a table?’ ” Travers said.