Sunday, July 15, 2012 WGNA will help kick-off the annual summer tradition of thoroughbred horse racing at Saratoga Race Course with the 'Open House.'  The free summer event raises nearly $15,000 every year for local not-for-profit groups through the sale of food and beverages.

In addition, the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council will also be holding a non-perishable food drive at the gates, and The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., giving donors a coupon for a free carton of ice cream or sherbet at any participating Friendly’s restaurant.

The New York Racing Association's 'Open House' offers free-admission and a sneak-peek of what's to come for the summer racing season in Saratoga. The day includes live music, food, pony rides, behind-the-scenes tours, handicapping seminars and the ninth-annual mascot race, which pits famed mascots from local sports teams and well-known brands against one another in a one-of-a-kind race down the main track. Post time is noon.

The National Steeplechase Association will present four hurdle races and one turf race as qualifiers for the regular Saratoga meet, without pari-mutuel wagering, every 45 minutes beginning at 1 p.m.

New this year to the entertainment lineup is The Puppet People, offering a puppet variety show including trick marionettes, mouth puppets, and rod puppets for three fun-filled performances taking place at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Also new this year, locally-known equine artist and art instructor Mary Francis Millet will be on hand with tips and a water color demonstration for fans participating in the second annual Travers-themed poster contest through the Tiny Tots Tea Room arts and crafts booth. The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to present a trophy in the winner’s circle as part of a named race during the summer meet.

The Islip Horsemen’s Association Long Island Drill Team, which has participated in various distinguished events including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, will demonstrate its moves and skills as more than a dozen horses execute intricate pinwheels, circles, and V formations on the main track at 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology will also be on hand with its Leaping Lizards and Rocking Reptiles exhibit, giving kids and families a chance to meet these fascinating cold-blooded creatures under the Carousel at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Patrons can get a glimpse into the inner workings of the track with free backstretch tours every half hour beginning at 11 a.m. at the Clubhouse entrance.  By the way, make sure you stop by the WGNA Live-On-Location tent for more prizes and fun.

*Information courtesy of Ed Lewi Associates.