Ten Things to Know Before You Go: Whitney Stakes

Events / Travel
Fans experience the thrill of horse racing at Saratoga. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

The Whitney Stakes is on the horizon, and if you’re planning to head to Saratoga for this Breeders’ Cup "Win and You’re In" race, we have 10 things to know before you go.

1. The winner of the Whitney Stakes gets a free trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Whitney Stakes earns its victor a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the Whitney-Classic double is not a rare feat. In the past decade alone, Gun Runner won both races in 2017, as did Fort Larned in 2012 and Blame in 2010. Will you see this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner on Saturday at the Spa? There’s a chance!

2. This year, the race will honor the memory of Marylou Whitney.

Known as the Queen of Saratoga, the late Mrs. Whitney is revered in the town because of her efforts that turned a dying community into an aspirational summer destination, which you can learn all about here. Mrs. Whiney passed away on July 19, and Saratoga will honor her legacy by dedicating Whitney Stakes Day to her. 

3. Whitney Stakes Day is going pink in Marylou Whitney’s memory.

Saratoga will be bathed in pink on Whitney Stakes day in honor of Mrs. Whitney’s favorite color; fans are urged to wear the color, and additionally, the Clubhouse entrance will be renamed the Marylou Whitney Entrance. So grab your best and brightest pink clothes and accessories and get ready to celebrate the life of Saratoga’s late, great queen.  

4. This year’s race looks like it’s going to be a great one.

Talk about a horse race! This year’s Whitney Stakes is shaping up to be a great one: two-time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow is pointing toward the event, as is 2018 Pennsylvania Derby winner McKinzie, this year’s Suburban Stakes winner Preservationist, 2018 Woodward Stakes winner Yoshida, and more.

5. The Whitney Stakes is the highlight of an incredible Saturday at Saratoga.

The Whitney is definitely the crown of the day at Saratoga this Saturday, but there are other huge races on the card: the Longines Test Stakes has a half-million dollar purse waiting for its winner, the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes and Lure Stakes are each $100,000 races, and the Troy Stakes is a $200,000 event. Get ready to see some great racing!

6. Know how to bet the races.

Betting on horse racing can seem intimidating, but it’s not that hard! We have a whole section on how to do it, or you can check out the New York Racing Association’s frequently asked questions to get an idea of how to place a bet at Saratoga. 

7. Weekend nights in Saratoga turn into a city-wide party.

If you love a party, head to Caroline Street in downtown Saratoga for a city-wide party. The area is packed with bars and restaurants, and it gives off a distinctly Bourbon-Street-meets-racetrack vibe that’s unique to a night in the Spa.

8. Or you can get your Potter on after the races on Saturday.

Grab a sock and head to the Saratoga Preforming Arts Center after the races to catch “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” with the Philadelphia Orchestra playing the score, because you are a free elf. It’s a fun, wholesome way to revisit a beloved classic!

9. Saratoga has so much natural beauty to explore.

Even if you love horse racing, you’ll have some downtime to explore the city of Saratoga and its immediate vicinity. Why not take a tour of the breathtaking Yaddo Gardens or explore the historic Saratoga Battlefield in Saratoga National Park

10. Close out your weekend by checking out the big polo game on Sunday night.


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Want to see a different kind of horse sport? The C. V. Whitney Cup is on Sunday at the Saratoga Polo Association, and it’s a ton of fun. Grab your friends and load up your car with a tailgate and get ready to watch some incredible athletes competing at the highest level.

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