NYRA unveils new Jim Dandy Bar and extensive renovations to lower Clubhouse at Saratoga Race Course

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today unveiled sweeping renovations and upgrades to the lower level of the Clubhouse at historic Saratoga Race Course, highlighted by a reimagined Jim Dandy Bar to anchor a series of new and improved guest amenities in advance of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and Saratoga summer meet.


The renovations — which are part of a continuing series of capital improvements at Saratoga focused on offering fans the best in modern amenities while preserving the historic charm of the venue — have been made to the entire ground floor of the multi-level Clubhouse and its centerpiece, the Jim Dandy Bar.


Fans will now enjoy a new horseshoe-shaped bar distinguished by its open and airy atmosphere and reflective of the original green and brown color scheme of Saratoga. Originally founded as a members-only lounge in the 1940s and later named after the improbable winner of the 1930 Travers Stakes, the Jim Dandy Bar has been relocated within the Clubhouse to its original setting based on historical drawings, and is flanked by vintage scenes of Saratoga Race Course.


“We are pleased to unveil the newest capital improvement project at Saratoga for the start of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival,” said David O’Rourke, NYRA President and CEO. “As always, our goal is to offer fans an improved experience while balancing the history and tradition of this cherished venue. These are important investments which guarantee a successful future for Saratoga Race Course.”


The newest Clubhouse renovations supplement the initial phase of work from 2023, which featured significant upgrades to the Finish Line Grill and Modelo Finish Line Bar. A central part of the second phase is a new Clubhouse Grill that shares a kitchen with the Finish Line Grill and replaces an antiquated concession with limited food and beverage options. Located across from the Jim Dandy Bar, the Clubhouse Grill will feature an expanded menu, including hot food options previously unavailable to fans in this area.


One important element of the renovations includes the addition of an expansive drink rail. This innovative fixture encircles the lower level and will offer fans a clear view of the saddling paddock following the relocation of several nearby gazebos and tents.


A new prominent and centrally located information station is designed to accommodate reservations and requests for dining and box seats. Fans can now book their reservations for the Turf Terrace, Club Terrace and The Porch. Located adjacent to the stairs leading to the second level, the Box Seats and Dining Reservations station replaces the lower-level Clubhouse bar which was made superfluous by the newly enhanced Jim Dandy Bar.


In addition, the restroom facilities in the lower level have been significantly upgraded and expanded and feature historic photos embedded within the wall tiling near their main entrance.


Since 2017, NYRA has invested in a variety of important capital improvement projects both on the frontside and throughout the barn area. These projects have upgraded the facility for fans, horsemen and the backstretch community and reflect NYRA’s commitment to Saratoga Race Course.


In addition to the improvements to the Jim Dandy Bar and lower-level Clubhouse, NYRA has expanded the highly popular Stella Artois Spa Verandas to meet guest demand for the 2024 racing season. The expansion includes a second section comprised of five units to complement the original six. The Spa Verandas are situated at the Top of the Stretch and offer fans a close-up view of the thoroughbreds making their way around the final turn.  


Additional guest improvements over the last several years include the construction of the 1863 Club, Cutwater Stretch, Surfside Tailgate at the Turn, Paddock Suite and renovation of the Post Bar.


Beyond the frontside, NYRA will soon complete the construction of a backstretch residence adjacent to the lowlands on the Oklahoma Training Track side of Saratoga Race Course. NYRA will continue to renovate and modernize existing housing on both the Oklahoma and main track sides of Saratoga this year and in the future, with new dormitory construction planned for Saratoga in the coming years.


When complete, these new residences will represent the most significant upgrade to backstretch housing in the history of Saratoga Race Course.

In 2020, NYRA completed a major renovation to the main track at Saratoga that involved general improvements to the base and surface of the track as well as a complete overhaul of the drainage system and installation of a new rider safety rail. The following year, NYRA renovated and widened the Oklahoma Training Track to achieve consistency with the main track.


Highlighted by the 156th edition of the Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will begin on Thursday, June 6 and continue through Sunday, June 9. The four-day festival is being conducted at Saratoga Race Course for the first time to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park, the Long Island home of the third leg of the Triple Crown.


For more information about the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course, visit BelmontStakes.com.


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