Special to Herald Press
The long-awaited arrival of full capacity horse racing will begin Thursday, July 15 at beautiful Saratoga Racecourse in Saratoga Springs, NY. The meet started as a four-day event in 1863 and is considered to be the oldest organized sporting venue in the country.
Today, the meet covers 40 days of racing, being "dark" on Mondays and Tuesdays until Labor Day weekend. The "SPA" will feature an unheard of 46 graded stakes races with 18 being G1's. The most notable races include the Whitney, Alabama, Diana, Ballerina and the "mid-summer classic" Travers with a purse of $1.25 million, along with two G1 steeplechase races.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has let it be known through media outlets that patrons have to be fully vaccinated; if not, there is a small area for those who are in attendance.
NYRA expects more than a million spectators to pass through the turnstiles during the upcoming summer days. NYRA also anticipates all forms of wagering to surpass the $700,000,000 mark hit in 2020, both on and off track.
Saratoga is definitely the place to be at least once during the summer of 2021. The quality of racing is second-to-none, as it is a global magnet for the best horses, especially turf (overseas) and the "babies" (two year olds). Past winning trainers Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher will be pressed by Eclipse Trainer, and trainer of the year 2020, Brad Cox from Kentucky, who is shipping in his fine stock for purse money that averages $1.5 million a day for the 10 races.
According to NYRA's website, general admission will be $7 and clubhouse $10-$12, excluding Travers Day. There are many sites to purchase tickets in advance, but GA is always available as a walk-up. Lodging is expensive, but if one were to be in East Greenbush, or even Lake George (both 30 miles north or south), you can be in the $125 range as opposed to $300+, and use the savings for wagering.
Picnic tables are available at the track for a premium and YES you can bring food and any beverage, but your cooler can only be 12x18 inches. One can consume on the lawn, far turn, and under the trees enjoying the many TV's and hopefully returning to the windows to "cash" a marginal victory.
Following the day's events the food, beverage and smiles lead to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center [SPAC] for one of the many nightly shows and concerts. A few of the talented acts consist of The New York City Ballet, Chicago, Hall & Oates, James Taylor and much more. If you desire more horse racing, there are the Standardbreds at Saratoga Harness a half mile away with the casino.
So, racing, great food, entertainment and the question asked by many: "when ya going up this year?"