Search Results for: is horse racing dead

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Upstate New York

All-sources handle record set as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

Source: NYRA Press Office

by Pat Mckenna; Mark Bardack

Milestone record achieved during reconfigured racing calendar and despite cancellation of a Saturday racing card

For the first time in history, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated more than $700 million in all-sources handle during the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course, which was conducted over a five-day race week and included the cancellation of a full Saturday card of racing.

Wagering from all-sources totaled $705,343,949 a staggering increase of more than $46 million, or 7 percent, over last year when racing was conducted for the full 40 days during a six-day week. This year’s handle eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 by nearly $29 million or 4.2 percent.

The milestone record was achieved despite the cancellation of a full racing card on the second Saturday of the season due to extreme heat, in addition to the cancellation of the final seven races on July 25 due to severe storms.

The record was also set during a season in which the Saratoga calendar was reconfigured to include a five-day race week, a departure from the traditional six days, and the earliest opening in modern history. The change was made to accommodate construction of a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park.

Average Daily Handle Up Nearly 10%

Average daily handle for the 2019 Saratoga meet was $18,085,742, an increase of 9.8 percent over the 2018 average daily handle of $16,477,086.

NYRA sets new all-sources handle record as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

copyright NYRA

“This has been a truly outstanding meet highlighted by the traditional recipe that sets Saratoga apart: world-class thoroughbred racing and entertainment. We would not be in this enviable position without the dedication of the owners, the talent of the horsemen, and the unmatched enthusiasm of our fans. I want to thank the local community for their support and everyone who contributed to our success this summer,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “This summer also marked the loss of one of Saratoga’s most ardent benefactors, Mrs. Marylou Whitney. Saratoga and NYRA will forever be grateful for her contributions to racing.”

Klaravich Stables was the meet’s leading owner with 19 wins. Chad Brown defended his H. Allen Jerkens training title with 41 wins. Jockey Jose Ortiz claimed the Angel Cordero, Jr. riding title with 60 wins.

The 2019 season witnessed several other highwater marks, including record all-sources handle of $31,835,863 on Whitney Day and $52,129,344 on Travers Day.

This year’s banner Travers Day coincided with the 150th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, which aired for the first time on the FOX broadcast network and was watched by more than 1.3 million viewers nationwide.

Saratoga’s record handle can also be attributed, in part, to the unabated growth and popularity of Saratoga Live, NYRA’s highly-acclaimed and award-winning television program. Distributed to a nationwide audience across FS2, Saratoga Live featured more than 190 hours of live programming this season compared to 80 hours when the broadcast was first introduced in 2016. FS2, part of the Fox family of networks, carried full-card coverage during most of the meet’s 39 racing days. NYRA’s investment in content and distribution has been rewarded with an increase in year-over-year viewership of more than 140 percent.

This year’s Whitney Day celebrated the life and legacy of Mrs. Marylou Whitney, the beloved owner, breeder and philanthropist who passed away earlier in the meet.

Whitney Day featured a visit by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced plans to build the Marylou Whitney Backstretch Pavilion, a permanent structure on the Oklahoma training grounds to house the Saratoga Backstretch Appreciation program. Launched more than a decade ago by Mrs. Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, the program provides meals, entertainment and support for thousands of backstretch workers.

On the eve of Whitney Day, NYRA officially dedicated the Clubhouse entrance in Mrs. Whitney’s honor. Fans each summer will now pass through the “Marylou Whitney Entrance” upon their arrival at Saratoga Race Course.

The 2019 meet marked the debut of the Empire 6, NYRA’s new jackpot-style multi-race wager, which provided one of two mandatory payouts on closing day. A total of $5,379,911 was wagered on closing day of the Empire 6 for a total pool size of $6,173,478 which included the jackpot carryover. Monday’s five figure payout of $23,794 rivaled several other large Empire 6 payouts over the course of the meet including: $37,064 on August 21; $25,145 on August 14 and $12,547 on August 18.

The 2019 season saw the successful debut of the newest hospitality venue at Saratoga Race Course: the 1863 Club. Constructed over the course of only 10 months, the 36,000-square-foot, three-story, climate-controlled building welcomed thousands of fans who experienced its modern amenities and sweeping views and sightlines of the track during its inaugural season.

The Saratoga meet began with an Opening Weekend celebration to honor New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera. The legendary Yankees star visited the Spa just prior to his induction into Cooperstown as the first unanimous selection in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. During the event, NYRA presented Rivera with commemorative framed blue and white pinstriped silks featuring the closer’s famed number “42”.

On-track handle for 2019 was $146,618,750.

Total paid attendance for the 2019 Saratoga meet was 1,056,053 over 39 days, marking the fifth consecutive season that paid attendance has exceeded one million fans.

Figures for all-sources handle at Saratoga dating back to 2010, the start of the 40-day meet, are as follows:

All-Sources Handle

2010 $551,660,724

2011* $526,251,819

2012 $588,351,964

2013 $586,617,240

2014 $571,163,485

2015 $648,272,805

2016 $647,322,503

2017 $676,709,490

2018 $659,083,459

2019* $705,343,949

*39 race days, due to weather cancellation

Live racing returns Friday, September 6 to Belmont Park for the 37-day fall meet, which includes 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money – an increase of $1.45 million over 2018 – starting at Belmont Park from September 6 to October 6, and concluding at Aqueduct Racetrack, with Belmont at the Big A from October 11 to October 27. The fall championship meet will be highlighted by eight Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends.

For more information, visit NYRA.com for the report on horse racing in upstate New York.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Travers Card Sets Records

2019 Travers Stakes Card sets Record Handle numbers

Source: NYRA Press Office

For the second consecutive year, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated a Travers Day record all-sources handle as fans wagered $52,129,344 on an afternoon that featured the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

On-track handle was  $11,657,493, which is also a new Travers Day record.

Saratoga canopy walk throughA paid crowd of 48,213 witnessed Code of Honor secure the fourth Travers victory for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and second for Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Code of Honor, owned by William S. Farish and Lane’s End Farm, posted a final time of 2:01.05 in the Runhappy Travers.

For the first time in history, fans nationwide watched the Runhappy Travers action unfold on the FOX Broadcast Network as part of a special one-hour telecast. Overall, the FOX Sports family of networks broadcast 6 ½ hours of live racing action from Saratoga which included all seven graded stakes on Travers Day.

The 150th Runhappy Travers was one of six Grade 1s on Travers Day, including the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer; Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

The 2019 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com.

Travers Day Handle 2015-2019

2019 Travers Day

August 24, 2019

All-sources: $52,129,344

On-track: $11,657,493

 

2018 Travers Day

August 25, 2018

All-sources: $52,086,597

On-track: $11,466,264

2017 Travers Day

August 26, 2017

All-sources: $47,870,987

On-track: $10,862,095

 

2016 Travers Day

August 27, 2016

All-sources: $45,596,367

On-track: $10,778,993

 

2015 Travers Day

August 29, 2015

All-sources: $49,668,754

On-track: $11,472,451

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Ohio

Mahoning Valley Racecourse concluded its Fall Meet and 2018 calendar season and did so with yet another annual increase in wagering. Since its launch in 2014, the young racetrack in Austintown, Ohio, has seen handle increases each calendar year since opening its doors. All told, wagering volume on the Mahoning product for 2018 increased 10.6% compared to the prior year.

“We are extremely proud to announce yet another increase in handle and both the state of Ohio and Ohio horsemen should also take pride in this accomplishment,” said Vice President of Racing Mark Loewe. “It’s incredibly exciting to see our team, from Racing Secretary Ed Vomacka, his racing office crew, valets, gate crew, and all operate at such a high level year after year. It takes a team effort and we have one heck of a team.”

For the Fall Meet, jockey Luis M. Quinones captured his first riding title at Mahoning Valley, piloting 31 of his 189 mounts to the winner’s circle. Quinones also finished third nationally in 2018 with 281 wins.

“He’s such a hard worker,” said Quinones’ agent Billy Johnson. “He’s out there every morning working hard. He drives from track to track without complaint. I don’t know how he does it, but his work ethic and obvious talent make it a pleasure to work with him.”

While Quinones notched his first riding title, it was more business as usual in the trainer’s standings as Jeff Radosevich collected yet another training title. For the Ohio-based Radosevich, there’s little better than winning another training title on his longtime stomping grounds.

“I have great owners. Obviously, I couldn’t have done any of this without their continued and unwavering support. I love Ohio. Mahoning Valley gives me an opportunity to race year-round from my home. Thank you Mahoning Valley!”

Mahoning Valley held its signature event – the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint – on November 19 and the marquee race of the meet didn’t disappoint as Trigger Warning won an epic stretch duel with Bobby’s Wicked One. Trained by Mike Rone, Trigger Warning was put on the lead early under Irwin Rosendo and then engaged in a fierce battle with the runner-up from the top of the stretch to the wire and was made the winner after Tyler Gaffalione’s claim of foul was not allowed. In the $75,000 Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff on the Steel Valley Sprint undercard, the gray mare Puntsville was able to hold off a late charge from Lake Ponchatrain to score her 13th victory in 25 career outings.

While she did not take part in any of the unrestricted stakes Mahoning offered during the Fall Meet, Leona’s Reward was tabbed the horse of the meet after dominating Ohio-breds in her three starts in restricted stakes events. Trained by Tim Hamm, Leona’s Reqard romped by eight-lengths over Ohio-bred fillies and mares in the Ohio Debutante Handicap on November 3 and followed that up with a win against the boys in the Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial two weeks later. In her final start of the meet, the daughter of Parents’ Reward returned to face fillies and mares in the Bobbie Bricker and again cruised to a seven-length score. All told, Leona’s Reward banked a total of $135,000 during the Fall Meet for her owners Blazing Meadows Farm LLC and Michael Friedman.

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Jockey Standings (final)
Rank Jockey Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Luis M. Quinones 189 31 19 16
2 T. D. Houghton 163 25 24 17
3 Christian P. Pilares 122 24 15 22
4 Luis Raul Rivera 120 23 13 17
5 Luis H. Colon 60 22 7 9

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Trainer Standings (final)
Rank Trainer Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Jeffrey A. Radosevich 108 30 14 4
2 Robert M. Gorham 99 21 15 11
3 Gary L. Johnson 86 17 9 8
4 Jay P. Bernardini 60 13 8 10
5 Rodney Faulkner 102 12 9 8

Source: Press Release

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not Yet in No. California

Golden Gate Fields concluded its 2018 Fall Meet in strong fashion on Sunday, Dec. 9, as the track posted a robust 19 percent year to year gain in all sources pari-mutuel handle over the course of 30 racing days. The positive increase mirrors results in all sources handle achieved at this year’s Summer and Winter/Spring Meets, and further underscores the positive changes taking place as Golden Gate Fields now looks forward to its 2018-19 Winter/Spring Meet opener on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Increases in out of state wagering and off-track betting helped contribute to a total Fall Meet handle of $99.7 million, well above the $83.6 million wagered in 2017.

“We had another great meet,” said Golden Gate Fields Vice President and General Manager, David Duggan. “We, first and foremost, greatly appreciate the support of our loyal fans and horseplayers. Additionally, the horsemen have been working tirelessly as have our front-side staff.

“At the end of the day, it takes a great team to make a successful racing product and we have a great team here. We have improved our product in many ways this year and we look forward to continued progress in 2019.”

Jonathon Wong was the leading trainer for the third meet in a row, making 28 trips to the Winner’s Circle. Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer finished second in the trainer standings with 15 wins.

“I give the credit to all of my help, my owners, and the horses,” said Wong. “2018 was a great year for our team. My grooms, exercise riders and assistants work their tails off every day. The owners let me put the horses in the right spots and luckily, many of our horses performed well in the afternoon.”

William “Billy” Antongeorgi III topped the jockey standings with 36 victories, one more than Abel Cedillo. The accomplishment marks Antongeorgi’s first-ever riding title at Golden Gate Fields.

“Billy works so hard,” said jockey agent Fernando “Shoes” Navarro, who has represented Antongeorgi since 2015. “He has a great work ethic and great personality. He has that ‘it’ factor as a rider. I’m really happy for him. He wasn’t in the last race of the meet (on Sunday), so we watched it together and it was emotional when it was official and we had won the riding title. We hugged and congratulated one another.”

With the its upcoming Winter/Spring Meet running from Dec. 26 through June 9, Golden Gate Fields has announced an increase in maiden special weight and allowance race purses, while also bumping up bottom level claiming and maiden claiming purses to a minimum of $10,000.

 

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Louisiana

Louisiana horse racingLouisiana Horse Racing Gets Purse Increases …. Again

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to announce its third purse increase of the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season. Effective Saturday, September 8, an additional $2,000 was added for all races published in the condition book.

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs had previously acknowledged an increase in overnight race purses which went into effect on June 30.  All overnight races, up to and including $12,500, were increased by $1,500. All other purses were raised by $1,000.  On July 19, purses for each of the six stakes for accredited Louisiana-breds on Louisiana Cup Day were increased by $10,000. That announcement was made in partnership with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA).

“Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to announce a purse increase for the remainder of the 2018 Thoroughbred meet,” said David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Directory of Racing. “Our Louisiana horsemen have been extremely loyal and steadfast in their support of our live racing season. We are glad to be able to reward them and create added opportunities for Louisiana racing.”

The 84-day Thoroughbred meet began on Saturday, May 5 and will continue through Wednesday, September 26.  Live racing takes place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time. For more information on the current racing season and special events, visit https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-louisiana-downs/racing.

Source: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

 

Is Horse Racing Dead?  No it’s not.  Check out these positive stories throughout the horse racing industry

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in California

Positive Reports from Earlier in the Year at Santa Anita

With a closing day Pick 6 pool of $6,022,040 adding an exclamation point to the conclusion of Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring Meet, all sources pari-mutuel handle for the 102-day run dating back to Dec. 26, exceeded the $1 billion mark, an eight percent increase over a year ago. With overall on-track attendance showing a one percent increase, that day’s all sources handle of $18,534,801, which included a near-$10 million increase over the corresponding date from a year ago, helped to contribute to a meet-end handle total of $1,018,268,136.

Santa Anita San Gabriel

copyright Cheryl Ann Quigley

Due to a more than $75 million increase in overall handle, Santa Anita announced a purse increase of 10 percent, which was effective June 1, 2018 through closing day, and which facilitated in attracting larger, more competitive fields to close the meet out.

“We’ve said this consistently, our customers are the economic engine that drives our business,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer for The Stronach Group (TSG). “We want to sincerely thank all of our fans, those here on-track and around the country for supporting our racing in such a substantial way from late December through today.

“We also want to thank the owners and trainers and all of our staff for their support and cooperation. We have many stake holders and together, we feel we can accomplish great things and build upon what we’ve been able to establish these past six months.

“Looking forward, our goals are to provide safe surfaces and larger, more attractive fields to bet on. We’ve very optimistic for the future and we look forward to welcoming everyone back for our Autumn Meet in late September.”

Hammerle Credits Turf Superintendent Martinez and Crew
Santa Anita’s Vice President, Racing and Racing Secretary, Rick Hammerle was quick to acknowledge the pivotal role Santa Anita’s turf course played in the Winter/Spring Meet’s overall success.

“We ran 70 more races on the grass than we did over the same time frame a year ago and we’ve got to give our Turf Superintendent Jesse Martinez and his crew a ton of credit,” said Hammerle. “Our customers want larger, competitive fields and grass racing really helps us to provide that. Without a doubt, the MVP’s of this meet are the main track and turf crews who gave us safe and consistent surfaces for the entire six-month season.

“To run as often as we did on the main track and turf, you need great people. Right from the top, with our Track Superintendent Dennis Moore overseeing everything, to Jesse and his guys, they really made this happen. Without their dedication and work ethic, and the commitment of their staff, we would not have been able to present as many turf races as we did this season and Santa Anita management is indebted to all of them.”

Highlights from the 2017-18 Winter/Spring Meet
Dec. 26—Opening Day
Total Handle: $18.3 million
Attendance: 40,023
City of Light, trained by Michael McCarthy, took the Grade I Malibu Stakes under Drayden Van Dyke. The Grade I La Brea went to Jerry Hollendorfer’s Unique Bella, who was ridden by Mike Smith.

Feb. 18—Bob Baffert’s Justify debuts in a seven furlong maiden special weight, winning by 9 ½ lengths under Drayden Van Dyke.

March 10—Santa Anita Handicap Day
Total Handle: $17.2 million
Attendance: 17,377
Accelerate, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Victor Espinoza, wins the Big ‘Cap by 5 ½ lengths. McCarthy’s City of Light takes the Grade I Triple Bend under Van Dyke by 1 ½ lengths. The Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile goes to Phil D’Amato’sBowies Hero, who won by a half length under Corey Nakatani.

March 11—Justify, in his second start, stretches out to a flat mile and defeats allowance company by 6 ½ lengths under Mike Smith.

April 7—Santa Anita Derby Day
Total Handle: $24.1 million
Attendance: 39,023
Justify remains unbeaten in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, winning by three lengths under Smith. Trainer Bill Spawr’s Midnight Bisou, also ridden by Smith, takes the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks by 3 ½ lengths.

Spring portion of meet begins on April 13 and consists of 42 racing days, through June 24.

May 5—Kentucky Derby Day
Total Handle: $19.8 million
Attendance: 26,121
Justify becomes the 18th horse to use the Santa Anita Derby as a springboard to victory in the Kentucky Derby as Baffert and Smith again combine forces.

May 19—Preakness Day
Total Handle: $20 million
Attendance: 23,428
Ridden by Smith, Justify win his fifth straight overcoming a rugged speed duel and foggy conditions at Pimlico.

June 9—Belmont Day
Total Handle: $19 million
Attendance: 20,128
Justify joins Seattle Slew as only the second undefeated Triple Crown Champion. With Baffert and Smith again teaming for the win, the chestnut colt by Scat Daddy becomes the 13th overall Triple Crown Champ and Baffert’s second, along with American Pharoah, who did it in 2015.

June 24—Closing Day
Total Handle: $18.5 million
Attendance: 12,253
With a three-day combined Pick Six carryover of $821,858 coming into closing day, “$5,200,182 in “new” money was wagered, creating a massive total Pick Six pool of $6,022,040. This resulted in 208 winning tickets, each worth $20,255.20. The total closing day handle of $18,534,801 marked a nearly $10 million increase over the corresponding date from 2017.

Source: Santa Anita

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Virginia … Yet

Horse Racing Wagering Business Up in Virginia

According to a recent Virginia Thoroughbred Association report, rises in OTB and ADW handle in Virginia have prompted a $10 million increase in overall racing handle in the state from 2017.

Through the first seven months of the year, ADW was over $52 million, up 3.2 percent from the same period in 2017. OTB handle is up over $8 million as two new sites have opened up since 2017. Both new sites — Buckets Bar and Grill in Chesapeake, and The Windmill OTB in Collinsville — are the only two serving their regions, as the preexisting OTBs were both in Richmond.

TVG is the most popular ADW operator in Virginia, followed by TwinSpies, Xpressbet, and NYRA Bets, which is a relatively new addition to the options there.

Read more at the Virginia Thoroughbred Association

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in South Florida

Gulfstream Park grandstand copyright All Star Press 2012Gulfstream Park’s 2018 Spring meet set new standards for total and average handle despite six fewer days of racing.

Is Horse Racing Dead?  Not in South Florida or many other locations throughout the country.

Gulfstream’s total handle for the Spring was a record $334 million, up $22 million over 2017. Total handle on the Spring meet has climbed approximately $88 million since 2015.

Average daily handle topped $6 million ($6.312) for the first time since Gulfstream began running in the spring. This year’s average was up $1.012 million from 2017 and $2.1 million since 2015.

Highlights of the Spring Meet included victories by Stormy Embrace in the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2), a ‘Win & You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup race, X Y Jet winning the Smile Sprint, and a three-way tie for leading trainer between Todd Pletcher, Oscar Gonzalez and Victor Barboza Jr.

“We continue building and shaping Florida racing’s Spring and Summer meets,” said Bill Badgett, General Manager of Gulfstream Park. “We’re building a strong, year-round program with quality racing and full fields, and fans and horsemen are supporting our program. There is still more to do and much more to accomplish as we continue to combine racing with entertainment events.”

Source: Gulfstream Park

Is Horse Racing Dead in Massachusetts? Not Yet

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC (SSR), the company that operates Thoroughbred racing, wagering and simulcasting at Suffolk Downs, and Fairgrounds Realty LLC and Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment Project Inc., the entities that own the Great Barrington Fairgrounds, have reached an agreement for a long-term lease of the historic race track property in Great Barrington to commence racing as soon as 2019, the companies recently announced.

Under the agreement, Sterling Suffolk Downs would refurbish the Fairgrounds property and operate a commercial race meeting at Great Barrington while continuing to operate simulcast wagering at its current location in East Boston. Suffolk Downs, the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NEHBPA) and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders (MTBA) are seeking modifications in state racing and simulcasting laws, which are set to expire at the end of July, to accommodate the new arrangement.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for us to help preserve and refurbish an iconic property in the heart of the Berkshires, to boost economic development in Great Barrington, continue live racing and preserve the hundreds of jobs, associated agribusinesses and working open spaces associated with the Massachusetts racing industry,” said Chip Tuttle, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse’s chief operating officer. “We are confident that we can do this consistent with Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment’s vision for sustainable preservation of the fairground property as a space devoted to community recreation and with a strong connection to its agricultural heritage.”

“We are excited to enter into this partnership which offers potential benefits to so many people and organizations in our community, western Mass. and the surrounding area,” said Bart Elsbach, chairman of the Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment Project, “Finding a group to partner with us in a meaningful way to continue use of our site in keeping with its history while continuing to offer the area valuable recreational and economic benefits without aggressive commercial development is consistent with our ongoing vision for the fairgrounds.”

The Great Barrington Fairgrounds has a rich history. It was the host of the longest continually operating agricultural fair in New England. Horse racing started on the property in 1859 and it was regarded as the centerpiece of the Massachusetts fair circuit. Pari-mutuel wagering began at Great Barrington in September of 1940 and continued through 1983. The track last offered Thoroughbred racing 20 years ago in 1998. The grandstand, barns and track facilities still stand, though they will require restoration and repair. In addition to improvements to the track surface, grandstand and other facilities, SSR officials indicated that they would be looking at expanding the racing surface at Great Barrington.

Massachusetts map“In its current condition, we are confident that we could conduct racing as soon as next year, should we need to, and we plan to explore with Bart, his team and the town options on expanding the racing surface to accommodate racing at longer distances. There was traditionally strong support for racing here and we hope to attract fans from across New England and New York.”

Suffolk Downs is scheduled to host three live racing and food truck festival weekends this summer on Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10, July 7-8 and August 4-5. Track officials have said that they hope to continue racing at the site in 2019.

In December 2012, the 57-acre fairgrounds property was purchased by Sheffield couple Bart and Janet Elsbach with the vision to preserve and restore the environmental health of the site. The Elsbachs created the not-for-profit Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment Project which has provided agricultural, educational, recreational, and other beneficial opportunities to the local community and visitors through the preservation and sustainable development of this historic fairgrounds site.

The revival of racing at Great Barrington has the support of the NEHBPA and the MTBA. The two organizations entered a joint agreement with Sterling Suffolk Racecourse in November of last year to seek alternative venues for continuing Thoroughbred racing in the state and to pursue changes in the state’s racing and simulcast laws that would facilitate the continuation of live racing. SSR sold the Suffolk Downs property to a development company in May of 2017 and has continued to operate under a lease agreement since then.

“Our membership is made up of hundreds of small businessmen and women and local family farms who want to continue the chance to earn purse monies and to make a productive contribution to the Massachusetts’ economy,” said Anthony Spadea, president of the NEHBPA. “Many of us raced at Great Barrington in 1997 and 1998 and would enjoy the opportunity to make it the seasonal home of racing here. We appreciate the support of the Legislature, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Suffolk Downs team to keep this industry active and vital.”

Source: Press Release

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in New York

Expansion of Saratoga Race Course

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) received approval from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board to proceed with construction of a permanent building at the site of the current At the Rail tent at Saratoga Race Course.

The project will replace the seasonal tent and trailers located immediately adjacent to the end of the Clubhouse with a 36,000-square foot, three-story, climate-controlled building featuring differentiated hospitality options and modern amenities. In addition to the three floors of usable space for guests, a basement level will provide space for a fully appointed kitchen to service the building.

Saratoga canopy walk throughNYRA currently plans to break ground on the project at the conclusion of the 2018 summer season and anticipates the new building will welcome guests on opening day of the 2019 meet.

“This project is another example of NYRA’s continuous efforts to provide the best possible experience for our guests. The new building will transform the parcel of land at the south end of the property with the type of differentiated seating, dining options and amenities synonymous with a world-class sporting venue,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “Perhaps most importantly, the new building will address the modern-day needs of Saratoga Race Course while honoring its history. We have taken great care to ensure that the building is historically consistent with the fabled architecture of our grandstand and clubhouse. We look forward to beginning the next steps of this much-anticipated project.”

SOSH Architects will continue to oversee design, bid and construction administration services for the building. Matt Hurff, partner at Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects, will continue to serve as project consultant to ensure all historic preservation standards are met.

The project has received the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which specifically noted the importance of the new building to the future of Saratoga Race Course.

“The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is pleased to offer its support for the New York Racing Association’s planned At the Rail building at Saratoga Race Course, which incorporates historically sensitive design details,” said Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart. “The Foundation looks forward to seeing the New York Racing Association’s significant investment in this building come to fruition.”

In recent years, NYRA has placed significant resources behind historic preservation efforts at Saratoga Race Course. In 2015, NYRA began to restore the copper roofing that historically bordered the slate-covered roof on buildings throughout the property. This is visible in a number of locations, including the archway over the Clubhouse escalator, which was installed in 2016; the paddock mutuel building roof, to which copper accents were added in 2017; and the Clubhouse from the Easy Goer to the Club Terrace, which will feature the addition of copper along the roofline for the 2018 season.

In 2017, NYRA unveiled several upgrades to the historic paddock mutuel building, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are intended to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was constructed in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather.

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The Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board also expressed support for the new building.

“The objective of this project is to maintain the historic character of Saratoga Race Course while responding to changes in the sports and entertainment landscape to ensure a sustainable, successful future for racing at Saratoga,” said Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board Chairman Joseph A. Torani. “The Saratoga Local Advisory Board strongly endorses the decision by the Franchise Oversight Board to approve construction of this new building which will accomplish these stated goals.”

The new building is the latest in a series of capital improvements at Saratoga Race Course. Since 2013, NYRA has invested more than $30 million at Saratoga in efforts to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities that are consistent with those available at first-class stadiums and arenas.

These efforts are most recently demonstrated through the creation of The Stretch, Saratoga’s newest hospitality area located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, which will debut on opening day of the 2018 meet.

The Stretch will feature modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch drive. Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a dining tier, reserved bar seats, and approximately 200 premium reserved seats.

Additionally, guests now enjoy more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout Saratoga Race Course; 950 picnic tables available for free on a first-come, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards in the backyard and infield; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and new attractions and hospitality areas such as the Saratoga Walk of Fame, Fourstardave Sports Bar and Easy Goer.

The 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course will be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing.

The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.NYRA.com/Saratoga.

Source: NYRA