SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. Board of Directors participated in a wide-ranging public meeting today focusing on the success of the spring Belmont meet and the current Saratoga meet, during which total handle has increased by nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The discussion was open to the public and streamed live on NYRA.com.
In his report to the Board of Directors, New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay outlined across the board increases experienced throughout the 2015 Saratoga meet thus far in comparison to 2014. For the first 15 days of the summer season through Sunday, August 9:
* On-track handle rose 18.7 percent over 2014.
* All-source handle rose 19.8 percent over 2014.
* Food & beverage rose 25.6 percent over 2014.
* Merchandising rose 27.4 percent over 2014.
“All kinds of things can and often happen in horse racing, but at this point in time, we believe that we will perform equal to, or better than budgeted for the meet,” stated Kay. “Certainly, the start of the meet has been very strong in every respect.”
Kay also discussed the more than $23 million in capital improvements and facility enhancements at Saratoga Race Course since 2013, and attributed these investments to aiding the boost in interest, attendance and handle for the 2015 season. These upgrades include the new reserved picnic table section, the revitalized sports bar in the lower Carousel, the Tom Durkin Replay Center, and the new Saratoga Walk of Fame.
“The New York Racing Association deeply respects and appreciates this treasured venue, and continues to be both a good neighbor and a good steward of this iconic facility,” said Kay. “Over the past three years, we have invested more than $23 million to further upgrade the physical infrastructure of the Spa. These projects have not only created safer, more enjoyable racing and resulted in a greater experience for horseplayers and racing fans alike, but they have also preserved the historic character of Saratoga Race Course.”
The meeting also featured a presentation from Robert Camoin, President and CEO of Camoin Associates, who discussed his firm’s recent economic study of the Saratoga meet as commissioned by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency. The study, which centered on the 2014 season, found that the Saratoga meet generates an estimated $237 million in economic activity and nearly 2,600 jobs across the nine-county territory that comprises the greater Capital Region. This figure represents a 9 percent growth rate in economic impact and more than 30 percent growth in jobs since the most recent study was completed in 2011.
The study also shows that Saratoga Race Course continues to serve as a catalyst for tourism growth with occupancy tax receipts at record levels for both the city of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County. This data is supported by visitor surveys conducted last summer which indicate that as many as six out of ten guests at Saratoga Race Course reside outside the greater Capital Region. The full report is available at www.saratogacountyida.org.
In July, the New York Racing Association completed a strong 2015 Belmont Park spring meet, highlighted by American Pharoah’s entrance into racing immortality as the 12th winner of the Triple Crown and the first thoroughbred to capture the honor in 37 years. Overall, total and on-track year-over-year handle increased for the Belmont spring meet, which ran 59 days from April 29 to July 19. All-sources handle on NYRA races was $636,621,791, up 7.5 percent from 2014. On-track
handle on NYRA races was $88,293,037, up 4.3 percent from 2014.
Stars & Stripes Day on July 4 was also a success, with an on-track handle of $2,779,529, and an all-source handle of $20,652,065, which was an increase of nearly 10 percent over last year. Featuring six graded stakes and broadcast live on NBC, the day featured excitement on and off- track and was capped by Lady Eli’s win in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks.
Finally, the Board announced the appointment of thoroughbred owner and New York Giants Senior Vice President Chris Mara to fill an existing board vacancy. Mr. Mara is a partner in Starlight Racing.
The next board meeting is scheduled for October 21 in New York City.