Track's 150-year history literally in the cards
Put Marylou in your pocket
SARATOGA SPRINGS The names, races and horses that made the Saratoga Race Course famous can be yours.
At least pocket-size versions can.
Commemorative trading cards that capture the history of the track are going on sale today and will be sold three other times during this summer's meet. There are 40 collectible cards, with unique packs of 10 cards offered. The proceeds benefit backstretch workers.
The "History of the Game" cards are part of the New York Racing Association's Saratoga 150 celebration, which recognizes the anniversary of when racing first came to the city.
"We had made a strategic decision to do a lot of big and new things this meet," said NYRA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Rodnell Workman.
The cards will feature horses, jockeys, trainers and even races, including the 2009 Woodward, Secretariat, trainer Allen Jerkens and jockey Angel Cordero.
There will be a limited number of trading cards featuring socialite and philanthropist Marylou Whitney. Her card , which describes her as the "Queen of Saratoga" on the back, recognizes her as an owner and trainer, and the picture has her in a pink hat, pink jacket and pearls.
In response to being immortalized on a trading card , Whitney said, "I hope people don't trade me too much and keep me as a collectible."
Workman said each card was decided through an internal debate at NYRA and anticipates the cards might stir up some fun debate.
"I'm sure we didn't catch everything " but like the Hoofprint Walk of Fame [new at the Saratoga Race Course], maybe this is something we can add to in the future," he said.
Most of the art for the cards are from photographs taken by the Coglianese family, the official photographers for NYRA. Some consultation was done with the National Racing Museum to pick out the best images for the cards, Workman said.
Cards will be on sale today and again Aug. 12 and 19 and Sept. 2 in the grandstand near the Saratoga Styles Gift Shop. Packs will be sold for $2 each, and proceeds will benefit the Backstretch Employee Service Team, a nonprofit group that provides heath and well-being services to backstretch workers.
The 40 cards are broken up into four different sets, with each set available on a different day. There will be 10,000 complete sets available, with 150 Whitney cards inserted into random packs.
Workman said they're limiting sale of the packs to one per customer each day because they're expecting a high demand. He anticipated the cards would be attractive to older fans, who probably owned trading cards growing up, and younger fans, who will want a bit of history they can hold in their hand.
A trading card collector himself in his youth, Workman said the nostalgia around the race course fits perfectly with the nostalgia people feel about trading cards. He hopes people will trade cards the same way people might do with baseball cards.
"Maybe people will want to get together " to get the cards they want for complete sets," Workman said.
The trading cards replaced the jockey autograph books usually for sale. Workman said the cards represented NYRA's decision to up the ante from the autograph books, which could return in the future.