Strong-closing Somebyay wins G3 Sanford

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Starlight Racing’s Sombeyay closed with a flourish to win the 104th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford for juveniles by a neck on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

The bay colt by Into Mischief benefitted by a patient and confident ride by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, while Bano Solo and Strike Silver, both winners in their only starts, battled strong on the front end amid fractions of 22.26 seconds for the opening quarter and the half-mile in 45.49. After the speedy duo clocked 57.64 at the five-eighths mark, Castellano received all he needed for the stretch run, completing six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.35.

“It was perfect. He broke good out of the gate and put me in the right position,” Castellano said. “Today, I didn’t want to be too far back. It worked out the way we wanted today. He’s a good come-from-behind horse. It was very satisfying.”

The Todd Pletcher-trained Sombeyay notched his second win in three career starts, building on a 6 ¼-length win in his debut on April 27 at Gulfstream Park before his runner-up effort in his stakes debut when he recovered to miss by three-quarters of a length to Our Braintrust in the Tremont on June 8 at Belmont Park.

“I thought he ran really well,” Pletcher said. “Showed a little more speed than I thought he would. Javier had to take a bit of a hold of him at one point, but when he took him out he finished up nicely. I think in these early 2-year-old races experience is huge. Having two starts compared to others with only one I think that helped today. I think it hurt him a little the last time when he stumbled, you could argue that it helped him today. ”

Off as the 5-2 favorite, Sombeyay paid $7.70 to win. He improved his career bankroll to $136,500.

Sombeyay’s impressive closing kick was enough to convince Pletcher to aim higher with his Kentucky-bred in his next start, naming the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on September 3 as a possible start.

“I think the Hopeful would be the next step with three starts under his belt,” said Pletcher after winning his record seventh Sanford. “If he’s tearing the barn down, we’ll see.”

John Oxley’s Strike Silver held enough speed to hold second while it was another 3 ¼ lengths behind to Whiskey Echo for third. Bano Solo faded to fourth.

Knicks Go, Lexitonian and Chase Greatness completed the order of finish.

Saratoga Daily Results and Activity

Results

Saturday, July 21
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $64,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Claiming – $32,000 $58,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance $87,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Sanford S. $150,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Diana S. $500,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 11 Claiming – $50,000 $70,000 Overnight Overnight



Early Entries

Wednesday, July 25 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Jonathan Kiser Novice S. $75,000
Race 2 Claiming – $40,000 $48,000
Race 3 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 4 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $80,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $75,000
Race 6 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $92,000
Race 7 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $57,000
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $80,000
Race 9 Honorable Miss H. $200,000
Race 10 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000

Final Entries

Monday, July 23
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 3 Claiming – $16,000 $32,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $75,000
Race 5 Claiming – $50,000 $53,000
Race 6 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $80,000
Race 7 Caress S. $200,000
Race 8 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $57,000
Race 9 Maiden Special Weight $75,000

Catherinethegreat storms home in G3 Schuylerville

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The Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies, the first of 69 stakes worth $18.85 million in purses during the 40-day Saratoga Race Course meet, was captured by John C. Oxley’s filly Catherinethegreat, who stormed down the stretch to win by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:09.98 for six furlongs on Friday.

The Mark Casse-trained daughter by Uncaptured broke from the rail under jockey Jose Ortiz and sat an unhindered trip while rival Nonna Madeline, the 2-1 favorite, broke last before being sent up under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez in the field of 10.

Following an opening quarter-mile in 21.78 seconds, Catherinethegreat covered the half-mile in 44.64 and five-eighths of a mile in 56.92. Ortiz, aboard for the first time, set his filly down and took command through the stretch over Nonna Madeline, who held the runner-up spot by three-quarters of a length over Congrats Gal.

“Unfortunately, with the break we didn’t have a whole lot of choice but to go,” Casse said. “I talked to Jose about her this morning and I said if she breaks, you might have to go. It didn’t hurt our feeling that [Nonna Madeline] got away a little slow because she most likely would of hooked up with her early. I was nervous when I first saw the fractions and, after, I thought she’s a pretty good horse. Jose’s a top rider. He’s one of the best in the world. I don’t try to give too many instructions. I just try to get the best riders I can and let them to their job.”

The victory was the second straight for the gray Florida-bred filly after she broke her maiden by 10 1/4 lengths in the slop on June 23 at Gulfstream Park, her second start after finishing second in her debut less than a month prior, also in the slop.

Returning $8.40 for a $2 win wager, Catherinethegreat was one of three horses Casse saddled in the race. His other two entries, Eyeinthesky and Tapping Pearl, finished sixth and ninth, respectively. His son Norman, recently out on his own after serving as Mark’s longtime assistant, saddled seventh-place finisher Fightress.

“It’s weird [to run against his son], but it’s a great feeling,” Casse said. “Here we are at Saratoga, it doesn’t get any better at Saratoga. The only thing that would’ve been better is if my dad had been here. … I’ve been watching the Schuylerville since I was a little boy and to think there were four Casse horses in there; it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Runner-up Nonna Madeline finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Congrats Gal in third. Serengeti Empress, Lady Apple, Eyeinthesky, Fightress, Lonely Road, Tapping Pearl, and Blame the Frog completed the order of finish.

Saratoga Daily Results and Activity

Results

Friday, July 20
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $25,000 $50,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $75,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Claiming – $40,000 $48,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $75,000 $56,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Allowance $87,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Allowance $77,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Schuylerville S. $150,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Lake George S. $150,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Waiver Claiming – $40,000 $48,000 Overnight Overnight



Final Entries

Sunday, July 22
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $20,000 $40,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 3 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $92,000
Race 4 Claiming – $25,000 $45,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 6 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $57,000
Race 7 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 8 Allowance $87,000
Race 9 Coaching Club American Oaks $300,000
Race 10 Maiden Special Weight $85,000

TODAY IS SARATOGA’S OPENING DAY

Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou clash again in star-studded G1 Coaching Club American Oaks

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Three-time Grade 1 winner Monomoy Girl and recent Grade 2 Mother Goose winner Midnight Bisou, who ran first and third respectively in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, will vie for supremacy in the 3-year-old filly division as part of a field of five in the 102nd running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on the main track on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.

Carded as Race 9 with an approximate post time of 5:40 p.m., the Coaching Club American Oaks will be aired on NYRA’s flagship TV show Saratoga Live presented by Claiborne Farm will have live coverage as part of a show that airs nationally through FS2 and regionally on MSG+ from 4-6:30 p.m. ET.

Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl is undefeated in her 3-year-old campaign, posting four straight wins against graded stakes company, including a half-length score in the Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

In her last three starts, the Tapizar filly has earned Beyer Speed Figures of 95 or better, winning the Grade 1 Ashland on April 7 at Keeneland, the Kentucky Oaks at the Coaching Club American Oaks distance, and a two-length win in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9 at Belmont Park.

Monomoy Girl is 7-for-8 in her career with her only non-winning effort a second-place finish by a neck to Road to Victory in the Grade 2 Golden Rod to cap her juvenile year in November at Churchill.

After already posting wins at five different tracks – Indiana Grand Race Course, Churchill, Fair Grounds, Keeneland and Belmont – trainer Brad Cox said Monomoy Girl shipped in well to Saratoga since arriving Sunday morning.

“She’s been over on the main track and handled it really well and stood in the gate this morning, so I’m super pleased with how she looks and how she’s handled things so far,” Cox said. “She’s a laid back filly, she doesn’t get too worked up.”

Monomoy Girl has three wins and a second-place finish in four career starts longer than a mile.

“She maintains her weight, her look, her coat, she’s so consistent with her works each week. She lets you know she’s ready,” Cox said. “She’s on her game and hopefully she brings her ‘A’ game. That should be good enough.”

Sunday will pit Monomoy Girl against Midnight Bisou, who ran third behind Wonder Gadot and Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks. In that race, Monomoy Girl stayed off the early speed and took the lead into the second turn before steading for a two-length win.

“A lot of fillies she ran against in the Oaks have come back to win huge races, so it’s a good 3-year-old filly crop that’s very strong,” Cox said. “She’s one of the top in the class and at the end of the year we’ll see if we can win an Eclipse [Award], that’s our goal.”

Monomoy Girl drew post 4. Jockey Florent Geroux, who has been aboard for all six of her stakes starts, will have the return call.

Midnight Bisou is also coming off an impressive win at Belmont, capturing the Mother Goose by six lengths on June 30. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bisou earned a 94 Beyer in finishing well clear of Road to Victory, the only horse to beat Monomoy Girl.

Bloom Racing Stable and Madaket Stables’ Midnight Bisou has already been at Saratoga, putting in her final work before the Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday, going four furlongs in 50.73 seconds on the Oklahoma training track.

“She’s training great, it’s a tough race, but we’re looking forward to it,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi.

After starting her career with back-to-back second-place finishes as a 2-year-old, the daughter of Midnight Lute, who was trained by Bill Spawr, started her year by winning the Grade 2 Santa Ynez on January 7 and the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel on March 3, both at Santa Anita, before heading to the Kentucky Oaks.

Following her win against a four-horse field in the Mother Goose, Midnight Bisou will race for the first time at the Spa, exiting post 2 in tandem with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

Eskimo Kisses will be facing Monomoy Girl for a third straight race. The Ken McPeek trainee ran second to her in the Ashland, finishing 5 ½-lengths behind on a fast main track. In the Kentucky Oaks, the To Honor and Serve filly rallied from 12-of-14 to finish fourth, just a half-length behind Midnight Bisou in her first start at 1 1/8 miles.

The Kentucky homebred will be seeking her first stakes win, breaking from post 3 with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.

John Oxley’s Gio Game will look to build on her strong performance in her stakes debut when she ran third in the Acorn last month on Belmont’s Big Sandy.

“I was hoping they would be three horses in so we can hit the board,” trainer Mark Casse said with a laugh. “She’s doing great, but it’s a tough, tough race. I think she’ll like it here in Saratoga.”

Since returning to the dirt in April, Gio Game finished second in an optional claimer at Keeneland and won against a similar class on May 4 at Churchill. She took a step up in class last month, finishing behind Talk Veuve to Me and Monomoy Girl.

“If you look, her numbers and getting better and better, but this is going to be a tough one,” Casse said. “She usually likes to be fairly close, so I don’t think she’ll be too far back.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux will look to ensure Gio Game stays near the pace in breaking from the outside post.

Chocolate Martini, the winner of the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 24, shipped in from Kentucky earlier this month and put in a four-furlong breeze on Saratoga’s main track, going four furlongs in 48.03 seconds on Tuesday.

Trained by Tom Amoss, Chocolate Martini was fifth in the Kentucky Oaks and parlayed that performance into a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on June 16.

Chocolate Martini will break from the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Saratoga Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Sunday, July 22 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $20,000 $40,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 3 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $92,000
Race 4 Claiming – $25,000 $45,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 6 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $57,000
Race 7 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 8 Allowance $87,000
Race 9 Coaching Club American Oaks $300,000
Race 10 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Monday, July 23 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 3 Claiming – $16,000 $32,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $75,000
Race 5 Claiming – $50,000 $53,000
Race 6 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $80,000
Race 7 Caress S. $200,000
Race 8 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $57,000
Race 9 Maiden Special Weight $75,000

Final Entries

Saturday, July 21
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $64,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 3 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 5 Claiming – $32,000 $58,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000
Race 8 Allowance $87,000
Race 9 Sanford S. $150,000
Race 10 Diana S. $500,000
Race 11 Claiming – $50,000 $70,000

Casse horses look to make splash in G3 Schuylerville on Saratoga Opening Day

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John Oxley’s Catherinethegreat will look to build on an impressive maiden-breaking win last out when she steps up to stakes competition in the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for juvenile fillies on Friday, Opening Day, at Saratoga Race Course.

The 100th running of the Schuylerville, carded as Race 8, will be the first of 69 stakes worth a record $18.85 million in the premier 40-day summer meet that runs through Labor Day, September 3. Carded as Race 8 with an approximate post time of 5:02 p.m., NYRA’s flagship TV show Saratoga Live presented by Claiborne Farm will have live coverage of both that race and the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George in Race 9. The show will air nationally through FS2 and regionally on MSG+ from 4-6:30 p.m. ET.

Catherinethegreat broke her maiden at second asking, besting an eight-horse field by 10 ¼ lengths on June 23 at Gulfstream Park. The Mark Casse trainee, who was second in her debut on May 26 at Gulfstream, drew the rail with jockey Jose Ortiz as she readies for jump in class in the six-furlong sprint.

“She’s training well and we’re happy with her. I would have liked a post a little further out, but we’ll take it,” Casse said. “A lot of times our horses tend to improve from the first start. I just think she broke slow the first time and it was very sloppy that day. The next time, she broke a little better and had clear sailing and off she went.”

Casse said the Uncaptured filly, who was purchased for $170,000 as a yearling, has displayed good early speed but has also shown her versatility.

“I would have liked to have seen her set a little off the pace, but we have one of the best riders in the world on her, so we’ll let him figure that one out.”

One of three Mark Casse entries, Catherinethegreat will be joined in the 10-horse field by stablemates Tapping Pearl and Eyeinthesky.

Tapping Pearl won her first start on June 29 at Churchill Downs and drew post 6 with Florent Geroux set to ride.

Eyeinthesky, who ran third Astoria on June 7 at Belmont Park, will look to parlay that stakes experience into success at the Spa in breaking from post 8 with Tyler Gaffalione.

Catherinethegreat, the 5-2 morning-line favorite and Tapping Pearl, 10-1, will face a formidable field that includes Fightress, who is trained by Norm Casse, Mark’s son.

A former assistant to his father, Norm Casse started on his own earlier this year and enters the Saratoga meet with six wins, four second-place finishes and a pair of third-place efforts in his first 24 starts. Fightress will be his first stakes starter.

“She’s trained really well since she’s broke her maiden,” Norm Casse said. “The thing that’s encouraging me the most is the fact you can noticeably tell she’s a better horse. It’s obviously a tough race being a stake in Saratoga, we’re proud to be a part of it. I think she’ll run really respectable.

“She wasn’t really high on my list before, but about 10 days before she ran, she really started to flourish. Something just clicked for her. She hasn’t had a bad day since.”

Fightress won her debut on June 22 at Churchill, registering a 4 ¾-length score over 5 ½ furlongs. The Tapizar filly drew post 4 at 12-1 odds.

“It’s a little surreal,” Casse said. “Everyone gets caught up that I’m running against my dad in a stakes, but I don’t see it that way. I have a 2-year-old running in a stakes at Saratoga against Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen, and my dad is in there. So I’m here with people I looked up to my whole life, so I’m very proud of that.”

Added Mark Casse: “It’s a dream come true and hopefully when the dust clears, there’s a Casse who wins it, whether it’s me or him.”

Pletcher, who won the 2017 H. Allen Jerkens Saratoga training title, will saddle Nonna Madeline, a Candy Ride filly who won her first start on June 23 at Monmouth Park. The 7-2 choice will break from post 2 in tandem with Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen trains Lady Apple, who has stakes experience after running second to Athens Queen in the Astoria. Lady Apple will depart post 9 with Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Belmont spring/summer meet leading rider, at odds of 8-1.

Rounding out the field is Congrats Gal for trainer Cal Lynch from post 3; Lonely Road, trained by Christophe Clement, from post 5; Serengeti Empress, a Tom Amoss trainee, from post 7 and Blame the Frog, trained by Ben Colebrook, from the outside post 10.

Trainer Chad Brown was expected to have 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Rushing Fall compete in the Lake George for 3-year-old fillies before she developed a temperature. Brown instead will saddle the French-bred Altea and the Irish-bred Punked in the 1 1/16 mile race on the main track.

Altea, the 3-1 second choice, will be making her fourth consecutive graded stakes start, looking to bounce back from consecutive fifth-place finishes in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 4 at Churchill and in the Grade 3 Wonder Again on June 7 at Belmont. The daughter of Siyouni will see Ortiz, Jr. will ride from post 7.

As a juvenile, Altea twice finished second in stakes in her native France before arriving in North American to start her 3-year-old campaign, which commenced with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on March 10 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Punked, a 5-1 choice, drew the rail in tandem with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano. In her first stakes appearance last out, she was second to Got Stormy in the Wild Applause on June 23 at Belmont.

The George Weaver-trained Daddy Is a Legend has a graded stakes win on her ledger,  capping her 2-year-old season with a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante on November 25 at Del Mar.

The Scat Daddy filly was fourth in the Wonder Again after running third in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 4 at Churchill and enters Friday as the 9-5 favorite from post 3. Manny Franco will have the call.

Heavenly Love will be cutting back in distance after her third-place finish in the Grade 3 Regret at 1 1/8 miles om June 16 at Churchill. Since winning the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades in October at Keeneland, Heavenly Love has struggled at times, finishing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and out of the money in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra on February 17 at Fairgrounds and the Grade 2 Appalachian on April 8 at Keeneland before rallying to finish third in the Regret, earning a personal-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We kind of feel like she’s come around, her last race was very good,” Casse said. “She got bothered a little early on. We intended on being a little closer. But she ran extremely well and with a little better start and a little better attacking position, she should be tough.”

Velazquez will ride from the outside post in the eight-horse field.

Andina Del Sur, who won the Florida Oaks before running fourth in the Grade 1 Ashland on April 7 at Keeneland and sixth in the Wonder Again, will break from post 6 with Julien Leparoux.

Rounding out the field is Going Out for trainer Michael Matz and Goodthingstaketime, trained by Jorge Abreu. Nootka Sound is entered for the main track only.

Saratoga Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Saturday, July 21 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $64,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 3 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 5 Claiming – $32,000 $58,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $95,000
Race 8 Allowance $87,000
Race 9 Sanford S. $150,000
Race 10 Diana S. $500,000
Race 11 Claiming – $50,000 $70,000

Final Entries

Friday, July 20
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $25,000 $50,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $75,000
Race 3 Claiming – $40,000 $48,000
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $75,000 $56,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $85,000
Race 6 Allowance $87,000
Race 7 Allowance $77,000
Race 8 Schuylerville S. $150,000
Race 9 Lake George S. $150,000
Race 10 Claiming – $40,000 $48,000

Opening weekend at Saratoga Race Course to feature new attractions and returning favorites for 2018 season

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Racing fans will be greeted by a series of exciting new attractions, perennial-favorite events and world-class thoroughbred racing when they return to the Spa for opening weekend of the 2018 season at Saratoga Race Course, Friday, July 20 through Monday, July 23.

The 2018 season will get underway July 20 with gates opening at 11 a.m. Post time for the first race is 1 p.m. Single-day Grandstand admission is $5 and Clubhouse admission is $8 for guests who purchase their tickets prior to the day of the event. Single-day Grandstand admission is $7 and Clubhouse admission is $10 when purchased at the gate. Limited reserved seating is available for Opening Weekend.

Grandstand and Clubhouse admission may be purchased in advance online at Ticketmaster.com or in-person at the New York Racing Association (NYRA) Box Office at Saratoga Race Course.

Season admission passes are available for purchase at NYRA.com and in-person at the NYRA Box Office at Saratoga Race Course, as well as at more than 150 Stewart’s Shops locations throughout the Capital Region. The cost of a 2018 Grandstand season pass is $40; a Clubhouse season pass is $65. A season pass covers admission all 40 days of the meet; reserved seating is not included.

“A visit to Saratoga Race Course is a summer tradition for racing fans. We are pleased to continue to invest in this historic and much beloved sporting venue as we provide the best experience possible for both our current guests and the generations of racing fans to come,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “We look forward to welcoming the best fans in the sport back to Saratoga this summer for another tremendous season, highlighted by thrilling racing, new preservation efforts merged with modern and upgraded hospitality areas, and exciting entertainment.”

Opening Weekend will feature five graded stakes, led by the 80th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on Saturday, July 21 and the 102nd running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on Sunday, July 22. The 2018 graded stakes action kicks off on Opening Day, July 20, with the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville and Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George. In addition to the Diana, Saturday’s card will also include the 104th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford.

The 2018 season will be marked by the debut of Saratoga’s newest hospitality area: The Stretch, located in the Grandstand at the Top of the Stretch. The major capital improvement project, which is the first significant enhancement to the structure since the mid-1960s, will offer fans an all-new private hospitality area featuring modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch run.

The Stretch will offer a total of 32 new modern boxes, each offering unique configurations accommodating parties ranging from four to 12 guests. Guests will also enjoy an upscale bar which is bordered by a drink rail facing the main track with a total of 20 bar seats. Additionally, a two-tiered dining area alongside the bar will feature four, six and eight-person tables. The front section of The Stretch will contain approximately 200 premium reserved seats, available for daily reservation, which are each flanked by a table.

Ticket holders to The Stretch will enjoy exclusive access to a full-service bar, kitchen and concessions, high-definition televisions and video screens, special events, and private restrooms. Guests will also enjoy a relaxed dress code at The Stretch.

Single-day tickets for premium reserved seats in The Stretch may be purchased through Ticketmaster.com. Additional hospitality within The Stretch may be available on an extremely limited basis, including boxes, dining tables and bar seats.

NYRA will offer several special wagering opportunities for racing fans on Opening Weekend, including the return of the NYRA Bets Lake Pick 5. The multi-race wager, which quickly became one of the most popular bets in the nation last summer, covers the last five races of every card of live racing at Saratoga. It features a minimum single-ticket payout of $150,000 daily and $300,000 on Saturdays to NYRA Bets customers nationwide online and on-track in New York. The offer is only available to NYRA Bets customers.

On Saturday, July 21, NYRA will partner with Saratoga Casino Hotel to offer a special day/night, cross-breed Daily Double wager comprised of the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana and the 10th annual $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial Pace, the premier race for standardbreds at Saratoga Harness. The “Toga Toga” Daily Double, hosted by NYRA, includes a $1 minimum wager and will be available on-track at both Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Harness as well as through NYRA Bets, ADW platforms and at simulcast facilities across the country.

Opening Day will also welcome the return of NYRA’s flagship television showSaratoga Live, presented by Claiborne Farm. Launched to critical acclaim in 2016, Saratoga Live will reach a national and regional audience of 75 million homes every live race day from Saratoga on FS2 and through regional sports networks including MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports San Diego and Altitude Sports.

Saratoga Live’s 2018 broadcast team includes host Greg Wolf, handicapper Andy Serling, analysts Gabby Gaudet and Paul Lo Duca, paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale, and trainer Tom Amoss.

Guests at Saratoga Race Course will once again enjoy 40 days of special events and activities this summer, highlighted by the following during Opening Weekend:

  • The inaugural Friday edition of Taste NY: Craft Beer, which offers guests a selection of New York craft beers available for sampling on Opening Day and each consecutive Friday of the meet. Fans will be able to sample five craft beers for $5 at the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion from noon to 5 p.m.
  • The Saturday debut of Fashion Saturdays, a weekly event offering a boutique-style shopping experience featuring women’s and men’s fashion apparel and accessories from local retailers, as well as a selection of home décor, jewelry and beauty items. The event will be held each Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.
  • On Sunday, fans will enjoy the first giveaway of the season – a black Saratoga baseball cap featuring the traditional Saratoga logo emblazoned in red, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel. All giveaways are free with paid admission, while supplies last. Guests who purchase a season pass or season ticket plan are guaranteed to receive the Saratoga baseball cap and each premium Saratoga giveaway item based on the following guidelines: Season pass or season ticket holders must be present at Saratoga Race Course on the day of the giveaway; enter through the designated season ticket holder lines; and redeem the giveaway by no later than 3 p.m. Redemptions will begin on Sunday when gates open to the general public at 10:30 a.m.
  • The 27th annual Hat Contest, presented by Hat Sationa! by DEI, on Sunday. Participants are invited to compete in three distinct categories: Uniquely Saratoga; Fashionably Saratoga; and Kreative Kids. Registration for the Hat Contest will begin at noon under the grandstand. The competition will take place after the second, third and fourth races on the track apron for the chance to win a variety of prizes provided by Hat Sationa! by DEI.
  • Berkshire Bank Family Mondays, held each Monday of the meet at the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All kid-friendly games and activities, including the opportunity to pet a retired thoroughbred, are free of charge, with the exception of one designated activity which carries a suggested donation to benefit a local school or PTA. The beneficiary of the first Monday of the season is Lisha Kill Middle School.

Guests can also enjoy Breakfast at Saratoga, presented by the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), held daily (except Travers Day) during which fans are invited to enjoy breakfast on The Porch of the Clubhouse while the thoroughbreds train on the main track. Breakfast is available on a first-come, first-served basis from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The morning buffet is available for $18.50 for adults and $10.25 for kids ages 12 and under. Mornings at Saratoga also welcome fans to go behind the scenes with a free, guided backstretch tram tour, courtesy of CDTA. Tram tours begin at 7:30 a.m. and depart from the Clubhouse entrance approximately every 15 minutes through 9 a.m. Tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are 45 minutes in length.

Coolers are not permitted inside the building or clubhouse at any time. Coolers no larger than 12″ x 18″ are permitted on the trackside apron and Top of the Stretch and must be kept off seats and out of aisles. Coolers are subject to search by NYRA security at any time. Guests are reminded that these policies will be strictly enforced.

Season ticket plans, weekly ticket plans, single-day reserved seats, premium reserved seats in The Stretch, reserved tables in the Miller Lite Picnic Paddock and the Fourstardave Sports Bar, dining and group hospitality are currently on sale and available for purchase at NYRA.com.

The 2018 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information about Saratoga Race Course,