The National Steeplechase Association and the Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga host committee announced on Friday, Aug. 31, that they are postponing this inaugural event scheduled for Sept. 15 until an unspecified date in 2013. The local host committee had successfully raised more than $120,000 in sponsorships to fund the $100,000 in purses required to run the five races this year but needed more time to promote the event itself to generate ticket sales sufficient to cover the projected costs to host the event. All money received from ticket and box seats will be refunded, and the local committee and NSA will be reaching out to sponsors to determine their interest in remaining as sponsors for the 2013 Festival at Saratoga.
“We are all disappointed as so many people spent considerable time this past year in a valiant effort to create the Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “The good news is that we’ve developed a solid plan for next year. We’ve identified the vendors required to make this a huge success, and we have found there is tremendous sponsor support. In organizing the myriad of details to pull it off, we simply ran out of time to pre-sell enough tickets to ensure that our partner charities would receive contributions after the event. We feel it’s unfair to everyone to risk running an event in 2012 that could lose money when we can move it to 2013 and be successful. We’ve decided it is better to be patient and to do this right.”
According to Shimkus, the NSA and local host committee intend to meet with the New York Racing Association soon to discuss possible dates for 2013. They also want to coordinate scheduling the Steeplechase Festival with the Saratoga 150 celebration. Beyond sponsors, the committee successfully developed a detailed plan for the event that included infield hospitality tents, a CDTA Trolley Ride around the main track, a three-day historic Horse and Carriage parade throughout the city, plans to televise the steeplechase races for infield spectators and those in the backyard, a vendor village, backyard barbecue and all-day entertainment, a giveaway for all attendees, a website and online ticketing program, a team of nearly 100 volunteers, and money for $100,000 in purses.
“We learned a number of valuable lessons that will be put to good use in 2013,” added Shimkus. “The bottom line is that all event planning must be completed by the end of March so that all of our efforts from that day forward can be focused on advance sales of tickets. That is our goal for 2013, and we will start working on this right away by reaching out to the sponsors, vendors and volunteers who helped us this year to ask for their understanding, patience and continued support.”