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Capital Region Scrapbook: Float with $1 million on board promotes ’87 Travers race

Capital Region Scrapbook: Float with $1 million on board promotes ’87 Travers race

Big horses — and big money — were in downtown Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Aug. 9, 1987.
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Big horses — and big money — were in downtown Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Aug. 9, 1987.

The event was the Travers Ride and Drive parade, then an annual event to celebrate the biggest race of the year at Saratoga Race Course.

Horses and carriages rolled Broadway during the morning parade. The New York Racing Association float received the most attention. It was a publicity gimmick — NYRA wanted to advertise the Travers’ first-ever $1 million purse, so the group put $1 million in $100 bills on the company float.

The bills were stored inside a bank bag on top of the float — which featured a canoe on water. The artwork was designed to remind people about the Travers tradition in which colors of the winning horse are painted on the canoe that floats in the track infield pond for the remainder of the meet.

No chances were taken. Aware that crooks have visited Saratoga during past Augusts, the cash was contained under a clear plastic dome. And 10 uniformed, horse-riding members of the state police — troopers and park officers — and Warren County sheriff’s deputies escorted the float during the 90-minute parade.

Schenectady Gazette photos — most of them never published before — show people in pretty good moods. Connections for Java Gold were in great moods on Aug. 22, when Java Gold won the “Midsummer Derby.” This year’s Travers Stakes will be held Saturday.

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