NYRA announces slate of community events, activities for 150th Travers
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. recently began the official countdown to the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers by announcing a series of community events and activities leading up to the milestone race, which will take place Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course.
The announcement took place on the eve of the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, presented by NYRA Bets, the traditional prep for the Travers.
City of Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly and local business leaders joined officials from NYRA and Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano to announce the upcoming events, which are designed to bring the anniversary celebration into the community and spread excitement throughout downtown leading up to the summer season’s marquee race.
Nearly two dozen Travers 150 pole banners adorn Saratoga Spring’s nationally-recognized downtown district along Broadway.
“Travers Day is always a highlight of the summer racing season and this year will be even more memorable as we mark the 150th anniversary of this historic race,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “We are excited to partner with the city and community to extend our celebration beyond the track gates and into downtown.”
“The Travers was big news when it began in 1864, and it’s been big news ever since. There is an energy downtown, and everywhere in our city, during Travers Week that cannot be compared with anything else,” said Mayor Kelly. “The City’s longstanding and rich partnership with NYRA spent working to develop new ideas and programs has had an outstanding effect. Saratoga Season Perks is one of the recent initiatives, which gives season pass holders discounts and special offers for 55 city business partners. That is just one example of NYRA’s great efforts to help people who come here for the races find out about all the other great things that go on all across the city. The 150th Travers stands to be one of the best – thank you to all who have worked so hard to make it a success.”
The inaugural Travers took place on Aug. 2, 1864, as the first race ever held at the present-day Saratoga Race Course. The Travers was run one year after the first organized thoroughbred race meeting in Saratoga which occurred at the original Saratoga Trotting Course located near Horse Haven on the Oklahoma side of the track. The Travers was named for William R. Travers, a co-founder of Saratoga Race Course, who won the inaugural running with Kentucky.
As the oldest stakes race for 3-year-olds in the United States, the Travers is an annual highlight of the Saratoga meet. Famous thoroughbreds that have won the illustrious race include Man o’ War, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Alydar and Easy Goer.
The Runhappy Travers will be televised on the FOX Broadcast Network in a one-hour show on Aug. 24 that begins at 5 p.m.
A highlight of the celebration will be a meet and greet and autograph session with Saratoga’s leading riders Aug. 20. The event, which will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, will take place in downtown Saratoga Springs prior to the official post-position draw for the 150th Runhappy Travers.
“Besides the chance to meet up with Saratoga’s leading riders, the Chamber will work with our members to offer additional live entertainment to create a fun and festive celebration of the Travers 150th downtown,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. “We really appreciate NYRA, under David’s leadership, engaging with the downtown business community and partnering with us to ensure that this year’s Travers celebration attracts people and visitors to the downtown and Saratoga Race Course.”
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who has won the Travers a record six times, including in 2018 aboard Catholic Boy, attended today’s event to discuss the meaning and importance of this historic race.
“I’m very fortunate to have won six Travers. The first win was a very exciting moment in my life,” said Castellano. “I’m very lucky to be here in Saratoga. It’s one of the best towns in the world, with the best jockeys and the best racing.”
The Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association (DBA) will welcome its many shops, restaurants and businesses to be a part of the Travers anniversary celebration by participating in a window-decorating contest.
Local business owners are invited to decorate their storefronts and window displays in a racing theme in honor of the 150th Runhappy Travers. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges from NYRA, the Saratoga Springs DBA and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
The top three window displays will receive special recognition during the Travers post-position draw.
Fans will also have an opportunity to win a pair of Clubhouse reserved seats for the 150th Runhappy Travers by completing the enter-to-win form located at each merchant participating in the window decorating contest. Entries will be accepted through Aug. 19.
“The running of the Travers is one of Saratoga’s most exciting summer traditions,” said Saratoga Springs DBA President Deann Devitt. “The DBA is thrilled to work beside our partners to spread the excitement of this historical event past the gates of the track and into our downtown businesses.”
The Runhappy Travers will be run Aug. 24 24 as the centerpiece of a card featuring seven stakes and six Grade 1s, including the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer; Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.
Grandstand admission for Travers Day may be purchased in advance for $10 or on the day of the event for $15, subject to availability. Clubhouse admission is available for $25. Clubhouse upgrades will not be available on Travers Day. Travers Day admission may be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or in-person at the NYRA Box Office at Saratoga Race Course.