It’s hats off to the start of another thoroughbred horse racing season in Saratoga, or make that hats on!
The opening weekend of the 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course will include two fun promotional events on Sunday, July 22, a big day for racing with the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, a Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs.
First up is the kickoff promotional giveaway of the meet, which runs from Friday, July 20 through Labor Day on Sept. 3. A souvenir ball cap will be handed out free to anyone with paid admission, courtesy of the Saratoga Casino Hotel. Season pass and ticket holders are guaranteed one of these coveted Saratoga hats.
Then the fun really begins, as the New York State Racing Association tops off festivities leading to Sunday’s Grade 1 stakes race with the 27th annual Hat Contest. This year, entries are being sought for three separate categories, which means there are no excuses for anyone to not participate. So get your thinking caps on now.
The under-18 crowd is first to the post in the Hats Off contest. The Kreative Kids category will take place after the second race of day, with prizes for first, second and third-place finishers thanks to Hat Sationa! By DEI.
Next up is the Fashionably Saratoga category, which invites contestants to wear elegant and stylish hats. This category will be contested after the third race.
Then, the ultimate challenge comes after the fourth race, when contestants will go head-to-head for the most Uniquely Saratoga hat. In a city famous for its historic Canfield Casino, mineral springs, Victorian homes, lively bar and restaurant scene and gateway to the Adirondacks, there are bound to be some pretty extravagant hats on display.
And the payoff for these fun events is handsome. The grand prize in the Fashionably and Uniquely Saratoga category is a $100 gift certificate to Hat Sationa! by DEI. Second and third place winners will receive $50 and $25 gift certificates from Hat Sationa! by DEI, good for both of the company’s Broadway location in downtown Saratoga.
Registration for all three contests begins at 12 p.m./noon under the Grandstand. Judging will take place on the track’s apron, headed by a a panel of local radio station and television hosts, including FLY 92.3, B95.5, 99.5 the River, and Q103. Mary Wilson of News10 ABC will serve as the emcee of this year’s Hat Contest.
To guarantee your free ballcap, consider a season pass. Those passes from NYRA are available for purchase online, or in person at more than 150 Stewart’s Shops locations throughout the Capital Region. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.
The Saratoga racing season will be chock fill of fun and games all along the 6-week tenure, but the 27th annual Hat Contest guarantees a heady to start. Who’s game?