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    The Travers Stakes, Saratoga Race Course

    Saratoga Springs, New York

    The Saratoga Racecourse has been recognized as one of the world’s greatest sporting venues. Opened in 1863, this historic track is even older than Churchill Downs. The track is also known as The House of Upsets and The Graveyard, because of the many famous horses who lost races there. Man O’ War, Secretariat and American Pharaoh all suffered defeats at Saratoga. With its rich history, and perfectly preserved historic charm, watching a race at the Saratoga Racecourse transports you back in time, even while you are enjoying a very modern experience.

    Rosie Napravnik

    The Back Yard

    One of the many things I appreciate about the Saratoga Racecourse is the layout of the grounds. The paddock area is accessible to viewing and spectators are welcome to explore the “back yard” area of the track. Early in the morning on race days, this is where you can watch horses and jockeys warming up on the back track. There is even a lookout tower where you can climb up to get a better view. Seeing the horses running as the sun comes up is such a special treat!

    Champions Way is the main thoroughfare that jockeys travel through after mounting up, making their their way to the track. This thoroughfare provides spectators a close up view of the horses and jockeys before the start of each race.  I’m a huge fan of (retired) jockey Rosie Napravnik and the last time we were in Saratoga she was still racing. It was amazing to see her ride right past us just before her race!

    The Travers

    The highlight of the Saratoga racing season is the Travers Stakes. Held at the end of August, The Travers is the oldest stakes race on the country for three year olds. The horse crazy town of Saratoga Springs goes all out during Travers week with lots of festivities. Surprisingly, it’s a very family friendly atmosphere, which has come to be known as the Travers Festival.

    Jockey at Saratoga Race Course

    Shopping

    In addition to being a horse crazy town, Saratoga Springs is also known for its long history as a Spa town, with its mineral rich waters. There are numerous health and wellness boutiques to explore while you are there. It also has a vibrant arts community, which is well represented among the galleries in the charming downtown area. And of course, with horses as the local inspiration, there is a wide range of amazing horse related art to be found! You’ll find everything from high end, luxury pieces to original racing photographs and reproduction prints.

    Here are a few shops not to be missed if you visit Saratoga Springs for the Travers, or any other time!

    Impressions of Saratoga is where you can find a wide assortment of collectibles, gifts and souvenirs, featuring “The Saratoga Collection.” This is also where you can purchase the annual Travers art poster. (Each year a local artist creates the festival poster and many people like to collect them.) They have some items available online.

    Lifestyles of Saratoga is a specialty women’s boutique known for their curated selection of women’s clothing, accessories and shoes. They are also known for their eye catching window displays.

    The Dark Horse Mercantile is a spin off shop connected with Impressions of Saratoga. It’s inspiration is the legend of the dark horse, which is said to always be a good bet in Saratoga. Here you’ll find hats, t-shirts, apparel, home goods and items created by local artists. They also have items available online.

    Saratoga Springs is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, whether you’re a horse person or not. Being there during Travers Week is a truly special experience, especially if you love horses!