Details out for Saratoga 150th anniversary events

Posted at: 05/16/2013 3:09 PM | Updated at: 05/16/2013 5:48 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

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The Saratoga 150 starting gate gets a champagne christening.

Ed Lewi / Saratoga 150 Committee

SARATOGA SPRINGS - This summer, the bugle will have an extra special ring to it.

This year marks the 150th birthday of Saratoga Race Course.

Final plans for the celebration of thoroughbred racing have been released.

Leaders of the Saratoga 150 Committee held a news conference Thursday at Saratoga Race Course to discuss details of some of the major events that will highlight the five-month celebration.
Nearly 200 events are planned through September.

And to celebrate the equestrian sesquicentennial, a team of heavy hitters is pulling out all the stops.

Famed socialite Marylou Whitney is even making fun of her own age in a commercial to promote the celebration.

"I'm Marylou Whitney. I think the only thing older than me in Saratoga is the race track," Whitney says during the commercial.

NewsChannel 13 asked Whitney if she was reluctant to poke fun at herself.  "Oh no, I'll do anything for Saratoga. I've been poking fun at myself for years to make Saratoga more exciting," she said.

The plan is for the commercial to run on local stations and on the web, around the world.

More proof that Saratoga 150 has made no small plans.

It all starts with a giant family picnic at SPAC next Friday night. "Family Night at the Spa," features entertainment and an old-fashioned picnic contest, with $1,000 awarded to the winner.

There's a replica starting gate that'll be the toast around town. There are commemorative water and beer bottles and candy bars.

There are public parties and an old-fashioned flower parade down Broadway to an ice cream social in Congress Park.

And by design, all events are accessible to the general public, not just the well-heeled.

"This is not a tuxedo and champagne party," said Joe Dalton, an organizer of Saratoga 150.

Business owners and NYRA say all the events are driving up inquiries and reservations, because as Marylou Whitney said in the commercial. "Everybody loves a party darling, so don't miss Saratoga's biggest celebration in history."

The first thoroughbred races were held in Saratoga on Aug. 3, 1863, a month after the three-day Battle of Gettysburg ended.
The annual racing season at Saratoga Race Course starts July 19 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 2.

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