Several years ago—probably longer than that, actually—I stood in line at Saratoga Race Course with my buddy John and got the collector’s mug they were giving away. Then I quickly exited the line—and the track, for that matter—so I could secure another mug. That day, I think I got ahold of three, all pristine, which have not made me a fortune on eBay and are still sitting in my parents’ basement. (Anybody interested?)
This year, there won’t be any collectible mugs or bobbleheads as there have been on past giveaway days, but the New York Racing Association has upped the fashion ante quite a bit in terms of what it’ll be giving away this year. Think: fashion forward.
This year’s giveaway days and items are as follows:
Thursday, July 11 – White Cooling Towel*
This giveaway comes with an asterisk, because it’s only available for season pass and season ticket holders, who show up on Opening Day. The towel will feature a red Saratoga Race Course logo on it and be available while supplies last. Perfect for toweling off your sure-to-be-sweaty brow, whether it’s blazing hot out or you’re nervous about the number of C-notes you just put down at the teller window.
Sunday, July 14 – Saratoga Picnic Cooler
This one’s the season’s first official giveaway and offers fans an easy way to carry in beer, chilled wine, Roma subs or whatever else they might be looking to wheel into the track for a day at the races. It’ll come in one color, red, and feature the Saratoga logo in white. Also happening on picnic cooler giveaway day? The 28th annual Hat Contest. So make sure to bring your most hatsational chapeau.
Wednesday, August 7 – Saratoga Baseball Cap
Camo, anyone? This year’s hat tips its, er, cap to the military, with a white Saratoga logo against the backdrop of a red, black and gray camouflage print. The cap’s camo theme is no accident; the giveaway coincides with First Responders Day at Saratoga Race Course, on which all first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID.
Wednesday, August 21 – Saratoga Beach Towel
Since the closest thing we have to a beach here in Saratoga Springs is the shores of the water running through Congress Park, you’ll have to drive to Lake George’s Million Dollar Beach—or somewhere comparable—to enjoy August 21’s giveaway: the Saratoga Beach Towel. The towel giveaway also begins the countdown to the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes. The circular beach towel features a colorful rendering of a Thoroughbred racehorse and jockey thundering along Saratoga Race Course’s main track with the Saratoga Grandstand in the background. And down the stretch we come!
Sunday, September 1 – Saratoga Zip-up Hoodie Sweatshirt
The final giveaway of the track season comes on September 1 with one of the better items I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been patronizing the track: a gray hooded, zip-up sweatshirt, featuring the red Saratoga logo. It’s sure to be the fall-weather Saratoga fashion statement du jour. Did I just say “fall”? Ugh.
Now, unless you want to buy one or all of these items on the secondary market (i.e. eBay), I’d suggest you show up on those days and claim your prize. Hey, take it from a free-giveaway-day expert: There’s nothing better than free.