Fans who donate at least three items receive a 2018 Saratoga baseball cap and will be entered to win tickets to the Runhappy Travers

 SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will welcome the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) to Saratoga Race Course during Opening Weekend of the 2019 season to host its annual food drive on Saturday, July 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

 Fans who donate at least three non-perishable items will receive a free 2018 Saratoga baseball cap, while supplies last, and will be entered to win tickets to the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers and other great prizes. The food drive will take place at the Community Outreach Booth, located on the Jockey Silks Room Porch.

“Summer can be a hard time for food pantries – EOC included. We see a spike in demand as kids are out of school and unable to take part in free or reduced-price lunches while donations slow down,” said Jo Anne Hume, EOC Executive Director. “NYRA’s food drive comes at the perfect time and we can’t thank them enough. All of the donations will help stock the pantry and make sure we can help families in our community throughout the summer.”

“We are happy to host the Saratoga County EOC for its annual food drive at Saratoga Race Course. The EOC serves a critical need for individuals throughout Saratoga County and we encourage our fans to support their mission,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “We look forward to seeing the generosity of the racing community and our fans during Opening Weekend at Saratoga.”

 The Saratoga County EOC is one of 40 non-profit organizations to be featured at the Spa this season through the Community Outreach Booth program, which provides one non-profit organization per day with the opportunity to interact with thousands of racing fans, share information about its work and host fundraising initiatives.

Other participating non-profits this season include thoroughbred aftercare organizations such as the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation; and industry partners such as the Backstretch Employee Service Team and Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. 

Local organizations featured include the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, Saratoga Automobile Museum, The Wesley Community and Yaddo Garden Association, amongst others. For a complete list of participating non-profit organizations at this season’s Community Outreach Booth, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/visit/community-booth. 

Saturday of Opening Weekend will also feature a special performance by Madison VanDenburg, the 17-year-old singer from Cohoes, NY, who thrilled viewers nationwide with her vocal talents on “American Idol.” VanDenburg will perform at the Don Julio stage, adjacent to guest services, following the day’s first race at approximately 1:10 p.m. Additional performances will follow throughout the afternoon. 

A rising senior at Shaker High School outside Albany, NY, VanDenburg’s journey to stardom began with an audition for “American Idol” last fall. Chosen as one of 40 contestants invited to Los Angeles to appear on the latest season of the show, VanDenburg finished among the three finalists and wowed the celebrity judges with her soaring renditions of “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.”

Opening weekend festivities also include Opening Day on Thursday, July 11; Mariano Rivera Day on Friday, July 12; and the Saratoga picnic cooler giveaway, presented by NYRA Bets, on Sunday, July 14 which will also feature the 28th edition of the Hat Contest, presented by Moet & Chandon and Hat Sationa! By DEI.

Following Opening Weekend, racing at Saratoga will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Closing week will run Wednesday, August 28 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. 

Gates to Saratoga Race Course open at 11 a.m. Grandstand general admission is $7. Admission is available for purchase at the gate or in advance at Ticketmaster.com.

 For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com/Saratoga.