Saratoga Springs area business leaders unveiled details of the first annual Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga at a press conference at the National Museum of Racing on Wednesday, April 11, and the event received widespread coverage in the Capitol region. Organizers said the Sept. 15 festival is likely to attract 10,000 patrons.
WNCE Look TV provided broadcast coverage, and the link to the video is here.
Saratoga Today also covered the press conference, and its story is here.
The press conference also was covered by Paul Post of The Saratogian, and here is his story:
September Steeplechase Festival to extend Saratoga’s racing calendar
Thursday, April 12, 2012
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Members of the equine community joined forces Wednesday to unveil a new addition to the Spa City’s racing legacy — the Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga.
The one-day event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15, at the historic Saratoga Race Course is expected to draw 10,000 people.
The festival will be highlighted by various activities hearkening back to the track’s graceful Gilded Age, including horse-drawn carriage rides and a chance for sponsors to view races from the infield. Plans call for races, music, food, a vendor village, a 9-furlong fun walk on the track and various equine exhibitions.
“It extends the racing season while bringing money back to the community,” said Saratoga Springs businessman Barry Potoker, who is co-chairing the festival with Bob Giordano of Saratoga Springs.
“On Sept. 15 a new light is going to shine on this gem that I call Saratoga,” Giordano said. “We want everybody to say, ‘I can’t wait till next year.’ ”
Horses and riders for the event are among the same ones competing in the nine steeplechase races scheduled for this year’s Saratoga Race Course meet.
“These are the same top-notch horses and jocks,” Potoker said.
The inaugural festival will have four steeplechase races with purses totaling $100,000, including the $50,000 Steeplechase Cup. However, there will be no pari-mutuel wagering.
There will also be one non-jumping race on the turf course that some horses may run in just to stay “tuned up.”
The National Steeplechase Association hosts 31 events up and down the East Coast each year. The new Saratoga event is important because it fills a void between the end of the Saratoga meet and the Grade I $150,000 Lonesome Glory stakes race, slated for Sept. 23 during the fall Belmont Park meet.
Some trainers may use the Saratoga festival to prep their horses for that race, NSA President Guy Torsilieri said.
The Saratoga festival will be the only high-caliber steeplechase event in New York, apart from those held during the Saratoga and Belmont Park race meets, he said.
Purse money will primarily come from sponsorships.
Profits generated by the event will be donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which cares for more than 1,000 former racehorses, and Saratoga Bridges, a nonprofit that provides services and advocacy for people with disabilities and their families.
Access to the infield will be for sponsors and their guests only. However, activities will take place nearly everywhere in the front and back yards.
A vendor village, free for local nonprofit agencies, will be set up under the grandstand. A horsemen’s hospitality tent and barbecue station will be set up near the paddock, and a tailgate area (tailgating is a popular steeplechase activity) for more than 100 vehicles will be set up just outside the Wright Street entrance off Nelson Avenue. Plans also call for a vintage auto show.
Activities will even spill into downtown, including a carriage parade through the city. The last leg will go from North Broadway to East Avenue and onto the racecourse grounds.
Friday evening, Sept. 14, a pre-festival soiree will be held at the National Museum of Racing, which hosted Wednesday’s press conference to announce the event.
For more information, go to www.steeplechasefestivalatsaratoga.org.