The best of local sports
(PHOTO BY PETER R. BARBER/Gazette Photographer)
There are sporting events held annually in the Capital Region that warrant yearly attention for all their import, popularity, history & or all of the above.
Then there is the Travers.
They ran the first one 150 years ago, in the first race on the site that is now Saratoga Race Course. Saturday’s race marks the 145th running (the oldest race in America had years off).
This is the big leagues; there is no other comparable event on the Capital Region calendar.
OK, having given away No. 1, here is a Top 10 list of annual Capital Region sporting events: (Note: College conference tournaments did not make the list, since they are not always held here.)
10. DUTCHMAN SHOES TROPHY GAME: RPI and Union football have played 111 times — the longest rivalry in New York state — and for 64 years, the winner has gotten the clog trophy that’s best described as unique in sports.
9. WORLD OF OUTLAWS STP SPRINT CAR SERIES AT LEBANON VALLEY SPEEDWAY: The annual tour stop for the best of dirt track racers draws a capacity crowd.
8. NEW YORK STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT: The intense tourney draws wrestlers from throughout the state and tens of thousands of fans to Albany.
7. HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRIDAYS: This slice of Americana is celebrated in all its glory throughout the Capital Region in September and October.
6. HOCKEY WEEKENDS: When the Albany Devils, Adirondack Flames, Union and RPI (not to mention Skidmore and high schools) have games, you can have more than 20,000 hockey fans heading to the rink on a given weekend.
5. CLASS AA SECTION II BASKETBALL FINAL: Regardless the teams, these games are good for a college-sized crowd.
4. UNION-RPI HOCKEY: This is Duke-North Carolina basketball to scale for college hockey in this region.
3. UALBANY-SIENA BASKETBALL: Or, if you prefer, Siena-UAlbany basketball. An early-season, throw-out-the-records game that is better when both teams are good.
2. FREIHOFER’S RUN FOR WOMEN: A world-class women’s running race that also allows everyday people, from seniors to kids, to compete.
1. TRAVERS DAY: Huge party. Big crowd. Bigger race.
ALSO CONSIDERED: Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course; the Whitney; fireworks nights at Tri-City ValleyCats; New York State Public High School Basketball Tournament; opening day at Bruno Stadium; Tour of the Battenkill bike race; Head of the Fish rowing regatta; Siena-UAlbany lacrosse; and any other one you think should be listed here.