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The crowded backyard area at Saratoga on opening weekend.
Opening Weekend at Saratoga

    Diana Handicap
    Test Stakes
    Go For Wand Handicap
    Hats and Bobble Heads

Opening Weekend at Saratoga

Dateline: 07/28/02

Opening weekend is always a big event as fans get to come back to Saratoga for the first time in nearly a year. This year two special events were scheduled. On Saturday was the "Hats Off Saratoga" contest for fans to parade in their fanciest and funniest headgear. On Sunday was the Jerry Bailey bobble head doll giveaway, which attracted a lot of gate spinners. You saw little Jerry Baileys all over the place, and kids were mobbing Bailey everytime they saw him to get their doll autographed.

In addition to the festivities, there was top notch racing with the Diana Handicap and Test Stakes on Saturday and the Go For Wand Handicap on Sunday. Appropriately, Jerry Bailey won all three races! He said: "It's kind of neat winning today because, in my son Justin's eyes, I didn't make it until I had a Bobble Head Doll." For more about the current bobble head craze, check here.

60,000 Jerry Bailey bobble head dolls were available free with your paid admission on Sunday. Here Bailey is surrounded by a swarm of kids wanting their doll signed.

A sea of silly hats as the contestants for the most whimsical hat wait for the judges decision.

This recreation of the Saratoga grandstand from crackers, pretzels, and candies was the first place winner. According to the owner, it took about 30 hours to make.

This patriotic couple entry took second place.

This intricate replica of the track complete with motorized horses too third place.

Saratoga socialite and horse owner Mary Lou Whitney presided over the ceremonies. Here she is with two of the winners of the "Most Fashionable" category. The winner (shown on the right) not only had a hat, but a full Victorian costume to go with it.

There was also a category for children. Here is Mary Lou Whitney again with the winners plus a couple of other entrants below.

There were so many great hats that not all could be winners. Here is a Graveyard of Favorites themed hat, complete with tombstones. Below are three other hats that I thought were interesting.

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