NYRA unveils its 2015 Saratoga plans

SARATOGA SPRINGS – With opening day a little more than a month away, the New York Racing Association unveiled its plans for the 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course.

The 40-day meet that starts July 24 and runs through Sept. 7 will feature significant changes for track patrons including big-event race days and new fees for reserved picnic table and Carousel seating.

Starting today, patrons may reserve seats in the all-new sports bar in the lower Carousel and a special section of the backyard picnic tables can be reserved by calling the NYRA Box office at 844-NYRA-TIX.

The picnic table reservation is an extension of the Travers Day program started last season with more than 100 six-seat picnic tables available daily for paid reservations next to the paddock.

Premium tables will be available weekdays for a $40 fee and $60 on weekends and $100 for Travers day. There will be no charge for the first-come, first-serve 850 other picnic tables throughout the backyard area.

The lower level of the Carousel, a formerly free simulcast area, will now be a sports bar featuring 40 high-definition televisions showing a variety of sporting events and premium beers.

Four-person tables in the Carousel will range from $35 weekdays and $50 on weekends and $100 on Travers Day. Six-person Carousel tables will go for $50 weekdays, $75 on the weekends and $125 on Travers Day.

“It is no secret that securing a coveted table at Saratoga can be a challenge,” NYRA Chief Experience Officer Lynn LaRocca said. These new areas will make it possible for guests to enjoy a leisurely day at Saratoga with the guarantee that they have a seat waiting for them upon arrival, thereby eliminating the need to often arrive at dawn to claim a table. These sections also offer guests the most affordable reserved seating on-track – breaking down as low as $6 per person for a picnic table and $8 per person for a table in the Carousel.”

Daily grandstand admission for the meet will be $5 and $8 for the clubhouse. The prices jump to $10 for the grandstand and $15 for the clubhouse on Travers Day.

It was announced that the annual open house at the track featuring entertainment and vendors from local non-profit organizations and other activities has been canceled.

Instead, the track will provide the non-profit groups space on the seven family days on Mondays during the meet.

Although it is uncertain if Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will race this summer at Saratoga, NYRA announced a meet full of big-day racing events and 69 stakes races.

The two biggest being the Whitney Racing Festival on Aug. 8 and Travers Day on Aug. 29.

The Whitney Racing Festival will feature the Grade I Whitney Handicap as well as the Grade I Test and the Grade III Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes.

Travers Day will feature six Grade I stakes including the 146th running of the Travers Stakes. Added to the card that already featured the King’s Bishop and Ballerina Stakes, are the Sword Dancer Invitational, the Personal Ensign and the Forego along with the Grade II Ballston Spa Stakes.

Changes also have been made for the popular give-away days.

Two of the four days will be offered during the week instead of just Sundays.

On July 26, fans will receive a Saratoga baseball cap with a paid admission. Fans will receive a cooler bag on Aug. 3 and a Saratoga umbrella on Aug. 19. The final giveaway will be held on Sept. 6 with a long-sleeve T-shirt being presented to fans.

The 147th meet also will usher in a new era as Larry Collmus takes over the race call at Saratoga.

Collmus, who was at the microphone for all of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown races broadcast on NBC Sports, takes over for Tom Durkin who retired at the end of last summer’s meet.

The meet also will offer many special events including Hats off to Saratoga (July 24) and the 24th annual Hat Contest (July 26); Fashion Saturdays beginning July 25; Taste NY Cider, Wine and Spirits, Craft Beer and Food and Artisans days on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays respectively beginning July 24.

Military Appreciation Day is slated for Sept. 2 with active military members and veterans receiving free grandstand admission with military ID.