Thinking about it, aren’t you? Forget how to get there? Let legendary sportswriter Red Smith tell you: “You drive north about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years.”
The fans are back. The grandstand roar is back. The magic is back. Saratoga Springs to life Thursday. The 40-day summer meet features 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses, highlighted by the Whitney on Aug. 7 and the 152nd Travers Stakes on Aug. 28.
After last season’s meet was compromised due to the pandemic, the NYRA as well as the local hotels and shops in and around Saratoga Springs are understandably excited.
“It was a little sad and awfully quiet. Following a season without spectators, we are thrilled to welcome the best fans in racing back to Saratoga.” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “Guests here on Opening Weekend will enjoy electrifying racing and we encourage fans to join us for the start of a season to remember.”
NYRA senior director of communications Pat McKenna added, “This will be a memorable summer and we very much look forward to welcoming fans back to Saratoga for a reunion like no other.”
Fans will not be required to provide proof of vaccination for admission to Saratoga. Non-vaxed individuals, however, will be required to wear a facial covering, in accordance with CDC guidance.
Fans, who were absent through the 2020 season, will be able to enjoy the Spa Verandas at the Top of the Stretch, Tailgate at the Turn and the newly expanded section of The Stretch.
Giveaway days include the Saratoga Cooler Bag on Aug. 15 and the Fleece Hoodie on Sept. 5.
A little morning thunder to go along with your scrambled eggs? Breakfast at Saratoga is back! Enjoy your morning meal on The Porch at the Clubhouse as the thoroughbreds thunder through their morning works. Breakfast is served daily, 7 to 9:30 a.m. NYRA TV analyst Anthony “The Big A” Stabile serves as host and he will have special guests lined up throughout the meet.
Live racing will be conducted Wednesday-Sunday. Gates open 11 a.m. Post time 1:05 p.m. Free admission with proof of vaccination on Opening Day.
And if you’re playing …
Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality is already working mornings at the Spa. He is scheduled to go in the Jim Dandy, a prep for the Travers. His stablemate Mandaloun, also trained by Brad Cox, will ship to the Springs after running in the Haskell this Saturday. Mandaloun and Cox are still awaiting a decision on whether Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will be disqualified, which would elevate second place Mandaloun to first. Rombauer, the Preakness winner, may be on his way as well. Connections are undecided. So yes, there is a chance all three winners in this year’s Triple Crown races will load the gate in the Travers.
The Whitney could very well turn into a showdown between Maxfield, who has won 7 of 8, including the Stephen Foster, and Knicks Go, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup champ.
Ladies? Three-year-old Malathaat, a perfect 5-for-5 after winning the Kentucky Oaks, will attempt to keep her record clean in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 24. And Letruska, ranked at the top of the list for older females after winning three in a row, is expected to race on Aug. 28 in the Personal Ensign.
Trainers? Top-heavy again. Todd Pletcher (31) topped Chad Brown (26) last year and the two heavyweights should run 1-2 again. Brad Cox, no lightweight, is bringing a formidable army of runners as well. Note: In 2020, Jorge Abreu put 31 horses in the gate and 10 crossed the finish line first, many paying big balloons.
Jockeys? The Brothers Ortiz, Irad and Jose, have some unfinished business to settle. They finished last year’s meet deadlocked at 57 each. Look for Luis Saez (42) to close the gap.
Enjoy it, racing fans. Welcome back.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/07/15/saratoga-is-finally-back-what-to-do-if-youre-attending-or-just-betting/ on .