NYRA to Honor Service Members and Veterans

August 18, 2023

NYRA to Honor Service Members and Veterans

NYRA Photo 

During Annual Military Appreciation Day at Saratoga Race Course

Free admission for all veterans and active-duty members with ID

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will honor veterans and active-duty military members during its annual Military Appreciation Day on Thursday, August 24.

All veterans and service members will receive free admission with proper identification. Gates open at 11 a.m. with first post time scheduled for 1:10 p.m.

“NYRA is honored to designate Thursday, August 24, as Military Appreciation Day at Saratoga Race Course to thank those whose courage, dedication and sacrifice have helped preserve our collective freedom,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “We look forward to recognizing all veterans and active-duty service members and hope they enjoy their special day at Saratoga.”

The festivities will begin at 12:40 p.m. with a special performance of the National Anthem by Sergeant First Class Emily “MJ” McAleesejergins accompanied by the West Point Color Guard. NYRA employees who are veterans or active members of the military or national guard will be recognized in the winner’s circle during this time.

The third race of the afternoon will be named for Military Appreciation Day and will highlight 98-year-old Howard Fox, who served in World War II; retired US Air Force Sergeant Harold Patchen who served in the Korean War; retired Lt. Colonel Patricia Huggins who served in the Air National Guard; and retired Master Chief Petty Officer Gene Ratigliano who served in the US Navy. 

Prior to the third race, Mr. Fox will ring the bell seven times at 17 minutes to post to signify when the horses have entered the paddock. Special appearances by the veterans were coordinated by Gurtler Brothers VFW Post 420 in Saratoga Springs.

An ensuing race will honor active-duty members of the New York military services, including the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Saratoga Springs and the NY Army National Guard. Prior to the race, NSA members from New York will announce the ceremonial call for “Riders Up” in the Saratoga paddock. 

One of the many highlights of Military Appreciation Day will be a jump performed by members of the West Point Parachute Team onto the Saratoga Race Course infield at approximately 4:45 p.m. 

The Saratoga County Veterans Service Agency and Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga will each have a presence at the Jockey Silks Porch. The Albany VA Hospital will be in the Community Outreach Booth. 

The Saratoga County Veterans Services Agency serves approximately 18,000 veterans and their families and is staffed by Accredited Service Officers to assist with securing former military members with earned federal, state and VA benefits and services. 

NYRA Photo

The Freedom Rein Project, an initiative of Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga County (THS), is a military equine therapy program that provides service members with the opportunity to explore challenges and achieve goals in an environment far removed from a clinical backdrop. Veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), lack of connection in civilian life and a number of other post-service-related challenges can often benefit from the Freedom Rein Project. This program is currently being offered free of charge to all service members and veterans in 2023, thanks to a VA Adaptive Sports Grant. 

The Albany VA will be in the Community Booth on Military Appreciation Day. The local VA hospital serves veterans in 22 counties in upstate New York, western Massachusetts and Vermont. It is one of the leading healthcare systems serving veterans in the New York/New Jersey VA Health Care Network. It provides primary care, including emergency care, mental health and specialty care services, as well as social programs and services. 

Highlighted by the 154th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26, the 2023 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Monday, September 4. 

Racing is conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, apart from the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.

For more information about Saratoga Race Course visit NYRA.com

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