Saugus Kentucky Derby to pack fundraising fun

SAUGUS – When the Kentucky Derby gets under way in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 7, Saugus racing fans and history buffs will celebrate the event by watching it simulcast on a large-screen TV at a fundraiser to support the restoration of a historic local school building.The Kentucky Derby is a stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbred horses, held annually at the Louisville track on the first Saturday in May and is one of the three legs of the Triple Crown.”We’re going to have fun and help out the restoration of the building at the same time,” said Saugus Kentucky Derby organizer Janice Jarosz, referring to the Marleah E. Graves (MEG) School at 54-58 Essex St.Once home of the Cliftondale School, the structure was erected in 1894. Jarosz and others on the project committee have spent the past four years working on the restoration.”We’ll be watching the real race on the same day at the same time, only we’ll have play money at the fundraiser,” she said. “We’re also going to have tables filled with memorabilia and photographs from the former Saugus Race Track. We want it to be educational as well as fun. It’ll also give us a chance to learn about the race.”Saugus was once home to the Franklin Trotting Park for harness racing. It was more popularly known as the Saugus Race Course, a half-mile oval which opened in 1870 adjacent to a four-story hotel. It closed in 1905 after residents complained about the clientele. The land was later used to host fairs and carnivals. In 1912, it became an airfield and saw the first air mail delivery in the U.S.Jarosz and the other committee hostesses like Kathryn Hollett and Charlotte Line plan to don period costumes during the event. Although the dress code for the fundraiser is casual, attendees are encouraged to dress with creative “Derby chic,” she said, emphasizing hats are welcome.The fundraiser will be held at the MEG school. Tickets in advance are $20 and include refreshments, or $25 at the door. The festivities start at 3 p.m. Raffle tickets and food will be for sale.

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