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Saratoga Race Course opens its doors

During the racing season, Saratoga Race Course's private clubhouse boxes are occupied by the rich and famous.

But during Saratoga's annual open house, the track's venerable wooden clubhouse was occupied by families including Clifton Park's Lijie Yu, who came to Sunday's event with her husband, her children and her parents, who were visiting from China.

We don't know how much these seats cost, said Yu.

Several boxes away, Albany's Graig Furlong was sitting with his wife and his three young sons " Matt (6 years old), Nick (4) and Alex (2). It was the first time Furlong visited Saratoga during open house.

"It was something good for the kids. It's their first time, too," said Furlong, who also said he tries to get to the track "a couple of times" during the racing season.

Not far from the Furlongs, former Schenectady real estate salesman Jim Collier was visiting Saratoga for the first time in nearly 20 years. Along with him was a friend he made in Texas, Keith Ackerman.

"The landscape they have out there is beautiful," said Acker-man, who had never been to the race course before. "I don't know anything about (horse) racing, but I like this place."

That was the point of Sunday's open house " giving people who otherwise might not visit the 140-year-old track a chance to see everything that the place offers.

Every inch of the clubhouse was open to visitors " except for a portion that was reserved for a horse racing group. Trams carried patrons to the backstretch, where they could see the barns where some of the top thoroughbreds will be housed for the next six weeks. County organizations including the Saratoga Running Club and the local Elks Club set up food stations near the paddock to raise money for their activities.

There were also some races going on. Five steeplechase races took place on the inner turf course, and the annual mascot race was held on the main track.

The Saratoga Race Course season was scheduled to begin Wednesday, weather permitting. The season runs through Labor Day with live racing taking place Wednesday through Monday starting at 1 p.m.""

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