Thursday, 07 May 2020 13:25

Saratoga Race Course: To Open, Or Not To Open - Here’s What They’re Saying

The Alabama, 2019. Photo courtesy of NYRA. The Alabama, 2019. Photo courtesy of NYRA.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — First, the money. In 2019, $2.1 billion was wagered on 2,000 races at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont, according to the New York Racing Association. 

The Saratoga meet (40 days) delivered the largest return of gambled money - $147 million wagered at the track, and a $705 million all-source handle – meaning many more dollars were spent on Saratoga races at off-track betting sites across the globe, than were at the actual track. Other 2019 betting dollars: Belmont Spring & Summer – 48 days, $525 million all-source handle; Belmont Fall – 37 days, $275 million; Aqueduct – 25 days Fall, $205 million.      

What they are saying about Saratoga: 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region. We have time to decide first of all, but I don’t think you can open Saratoga Race Course (slated July 16) and the State Fair (Syracuse – slated Aug. 21) unless we can open all large-scale attractions statewide.  Density is not our friend...How do you do sit six feet apart at the racetrack?   

New York Racing Association plans to open at Belmont first, then Saratoga - Closing to spectators and reducing employees and support staff to only those who are required under the rules of racing.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, 113th Assembly District: move forward planning to hold this year’s race meet. Potential “opportunities including but not limited to social distancing, limited viewership, and personal protective equipment.”

Elsie Stefanik, 21st Congressional District: explore options for the racecourse to reopen for the meet with updated operations based on public health recommendations. Protect public health but also ensure the meet moves forward in a modified capacity to protect the public's health.

Board of Directors of the Adirondack Trust Company: give NYRA time to draw up careful plans—subject to state approval—that would allow a limited number of fans to attend racing consistent with safety protocols. Examples: limiting the number of seats and/or entry tickets sold, marking and monitoring designated viewing areas to ensure proper social distancing, plexiglass screens, mandatory temperature checks and masks, changes in backstretch housing and strong protections for workers, strictly enforced.

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