The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has announced a number of potential improvements for Saratoga Race Course. The proposed improvements will enhance the facilities while preserving the historic nature of the race track. While the list is long, as is the timeline for completion, NYRA is looking for public comment and feedback to determine priority and implementation of the plan.
This project will be funded by revenue generated through the installation of VTL machines and electronic table game at Aqueduct Racetrack. NYRA receives 4% of this revenue for capital improvement, estimated to be $27.6 million annually.
Saratoga Race Course hasn’t changed much since the Jockey Club Plan in 1956. The grandstand was extended in 1965, the carousel was constructed in the late 1980s, and in 2000 the new entrance gates and jockey house complex were completed. The new ‘menu’ of improvements will take five to ten years to complete, but are sure to make the overall fan experience of the Track more enjoyable.
“NYRA is deeply committed to preserving the historic fabric of Saratoga Race Course while implementing a capital improvement strategy that will allow Saratoga to grow and flourish for years to come,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward. “This menu of potential projects is designed to generate feedback from the public in order to incorporate the needs and wants of every Saratoga stakeholder, including the fans, horsemen, and general community.”
The complete menu of potential projects:
Apron and Winner’s Circle Redesign – Relocation and enlargement of the winner’s circle including re-pavement and pitching of apron to improve sightlines. Additionally, the steps leading to the Clubhouse and Grandstand would be rebuilt to include up to six box seats on each unit.
At The Rail Building – A permanent air-conditioned At The Rail hospitality building to replace the current At The Rail tent and the luxury suites on the Clubhouse turn. The three-story building would include a 500-seat hospitality room on the ground level, 12 suites on the second level with capacity for 20 people, and three to six party suites on the top floor with capacity for 20 to 50. The building would include viewing patios to the track, paddock, and horse path.
Backyard Expansion – Expansion of the backyard to create additional space for patrons to enjoy. This would allow more room that could be used for promotional activities and casual hospitality offerings. The expansion would include a pedestrian path from the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In order to facilitate this expansion, approximately half of the parking area contained within the Union Avenue gate would be relocated.
Backyard Improvements – Reorganization of the backyard to create additional open space and improved flow throughout the area for patrons. The project would include general improvements and repairs to all landscaping, including drainage and grading and an assessment of all barriers, fences, and horse rails.
Current Jockey House Redesign – Redesign of the area that currently serves as the jockey house and executive administration building to include a player’s club for high-wagering activity customers, a restaurant on the ground level, and a lounge on the second floor.
General Clubhouse Refurbishment – General refurbishments to the Clubhouse, including renovations to the restrooms, dining porch, judges’ area, press box and the Turf Terrace Restaurant. The renovations would also include new fire stairs installed on all three levels and new elevator cores on all three levels to expand service, as well as new restrooms and box seats. Additionally, Clubhouse refurbishments would add a new hospitality club room for box seat-holders and a new bistro on the ground level at the west end.
General Grandstand Refurbishment – General refurbishments to the Grandstand, including a new Restaurant Row hospitality area on the ground floor of the Carousel and a new sports bar and simulcasting venue on the second floor of the Carousel. Additionally, there would be new restrooms, stairs, escalators, and mutuel bays.
Historic Saddling Shed Redesign – Redesign of the historic saddling shed that now serves as the paddock mutuel building and racing office. Two long islands of mutuel bays would bookend a champagne bar beneath a newly renovated roof. The racing office would be relocated.
New Lincoln Avenue Entrance – Creation of a new entrance on Lincoln Avenue located at the northwest corner of the backyard, close to the Big Red Spring.
Paddock Redesign – Redesign of paddock to include a new jockey house, saddling stalls, horse paths, walking ring, and racing offices. The current saddling shed would be rebuilt into a two-story building with saddling stalls, the jockey silks room, racing offices, and a medical facility on the ground floor; and the jockey’s room and a porch on the second floor. Additionally, the paddock would be redesigned to provide better flow and an improved viewing perspective for fans.
Production Kitchen – Construction of a production kitchen outside the main building complex east of the Clubhouse gate entrance on Wright Street and inside of Nelson Avenue. A permanent kitchen structure would simplify catering service to the restaurants on track and enhance food quality. This area could also serve as a broadcasting home to television trucks and potentially include additional administrative space.
Top of the Stretch Building – A new hospitality building at the Top of the Stretch. The three-story structure would include a terraced patio and bar on the ground floor, enclosed dining and a balcony on the second floor, and an open air bar and balcony on the third floor.
Wright Street Entrance Improvements – Renovation of the Wright Street Clubhouse entrance with landscape improvements and the creation of a more spacious and accommodating entrance area. Additional handicapped access would be included.
Dormitories – Replacement or refurbishment of existing backstretch dormitories to provide enhanced living arrangements for workers.
General Barn Renovations – Renovations to stabilize the existing barns and structures where needed.
General Landscaping – General improvements to the utilities and landscaping including re-landscaping the equine areas to create an improved separation between vehicles and horses.
Historic Asset Restoration – Restoration and improvement of identified historic assets in the backstretch, including the Horse Haven area, Fasig-Tipton barns, and additional barns and residences.
Improved Social Facilities – Improved and enhanced social and community facilities for backstretch employees.
New Stalls – The addition of 200 new stalls to increase the horse population and, in turn, field sizes.
Oklahoma Track Improvements – Enhancements to the Oklahoma training area, including a new entrance and viewing stands for the public and for horsemen and the relocation of main offices and workshops.
Securing Backstretch Boundaries – Improvements to secure the boundaries to the backstretch areas.
Do you have an opinion on the priority of these projects? Public comments and feedback will be used to determine what is most important to all Saratoga stakeholders. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.