Gray skies and occasional drizzle did nothing to keep patrons from hauling away piles of Saratoga Race Course T-shirts on Sunday, during the first giveaway of the racing season.
The track had 55,000 commemorative red-and-white short-sleeve shirts made for the occasion, according to NYRA’s chief marketing officer Rodnell Workman.
Traditionally one of the more popular giveaways, the shirts may have been in even higher demand this year since they were not one of the giveaways offered in 2012.
A T-shirt coupon, redeemable on-site, was offered free with each paid admission Sunday, but many patrons entered and exited the track multiple times — a process called “spinning” — to obtain more than one.
Others ventured inside the track’s grounds to purchase multiple admission sales coupons. After a lengthy wait in line, patrons could buy up to five of them at once.
Matthew and Kimberly McGuire of Queensbury were on the way to the admission gate late Sunday morning with kids Kalyn, 14, and James, 10. Their goal: to walk away with 24 T-shirts. They’ve had their children in on the track T-shirt procurement process since they were small enough to be toted around in a little red wagon, Kimberly McGuire said.
In years past, other patrons jokingly asked if they could rent the McGuires’ kids so that the tykes could spin for them on T-shirt giveaway day, Matthew McGuire said.
Inside the track, the line for multiple admission sales coupons stretched from underneath the Grandstand all the way around the Carousel Mini Theater.
gifts for friends
Paul Microulis of Rhode Island was at the end of that line at a little after 11 a.m. Sunday, second-guessing his decision not to spin at the gate like he had in the past.
“I walked this far, I might as well stay in line at this point,” he said, noting that the T-shirts he would eventually acquire would go to friends and relatives in Chicago, Reno and Italy.
Dan Robertson of Coxsackie was shuffling through the line for the second time Sunday morning, to get T-shirts for friends who couldn’t be at the track. This is the last year he is going to do it for them, he vowed.
Once entrance tickets were in hand, patrons had to wait some more. The line to exchange tickets for T-shirts stretched from a tent at the far left of the racetrack all the way to where the reserved clubhouse seats start in the grandstand.
Three more giveaways are scheduled during the 2013 racing season. They are a Fourstardave bobble head figurine on Aug. 11, a Saratoga baseball cap on Aug. 18 and a ceramic beer stein on Sept. 1.