06/24/2013 3:40PM

Saratoga to celebrate its 150th anniversary on Aug. 3

NYRA photo
NYRA will give away Saratoga Race Course replicas on Aug. 18.

Saratoga Race Course will officially celebrate its 150th anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 3, the track’s operator, the New York Racing Association, announced Monday during a press conference designed to drum up publicity for the summer meet that starts July 19.

The 150th-anniversary celebration will take place on the same day as the Whitney Handicap. Buddy Valastro, a celebrity chef who is known as the “Cake Boss,” will present a cake to mark the anniversary during the day’s races, and all fans will receive a commemorative poster with each paid admission.

Also on Aug. 3, and for the next four Saturday cards, the track will conduct a lottery that will give the winner a $15,000 win bet on the track’s featured race. The money for the promotional wagers is being provided by Marylou Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, who is a special adviser to the NYRA board.

Although many of the details of the Saratoga meet have already been announced, NYRA holds a press conference roughly four weeks prior to the track’s opening in order to generate coverage for what is already one of the most popular racing events on the U.S. calendar. The meet will run from July 19 to Sept. 2, with 40 total live racing days, running six days a week.

NYRA also announced the dates for its Sunday giveaways, which often attract large crowds. On July 28, the track will give away a short-sleeve T-shirt branded with the Saratoga logo. On Aug. 11, the giveaway will be a bobblehead doll in the likeness of Fourstardave, the horse who won at least one race at Saratoga from 1987-1994. On Aug. 18, a Saratoga Race Course “replica model” will be the giveaway item, and on Sept. 1, it will be a beer stein decorated with images of “some of the most legendary Thoroughbreds to have competed” at the track, NYRA said.

Saratoga also is planning on a number of promotions during the meet. On Aug. 4, the track will honor Funny Cide, a New York-bred who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby. The always-popular “Battle of the Brews” is scheduled for Aug. 23. The track’s only twilight card is scheduled for Aug. 30, with first post of 2:30 p.m.

A $200,000 handicapping contest with a $100,000 top prize is scheduled for Aug. 7-8. The entry fee is $1,000, and the top four finishers will receive berths in the 2014 National Handicapping Championship. Daily Racing Form is a sponsor of the NHC.