SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Opening Day of the 2016 season at Saratoga Race Course featured new attractions, the debut of Saratoga LIVE and an all-sources handle of $17,768,443.
Opening Day was highlighted by Ancient Secret’s rousing win in the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George and Sweet Loretta’s triumph in the co-featured Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies.
“There is nothing quite like opening day at historic Saratoga Race Course,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “It’s a homecoming for all who make this sport great, and we’re thrilled to be back for 40 days of the world’s best racing.”
Opening Day marked the debut of Saratoga LIVE, the new racing program produced by NYRA TV, which is broadcast to an audience of more than 65 million viewers on Fox Sports 2 and MSG+ each day beginning at 4 p.m. and on Altitude Sports beginning at 3 p.m. MT. The program features a combination of racing coverage, analysis and feature items.
Fans were treated to a number of capital improvements and upgrades, including three new high-definition video boards located near the paddock, Fourstardave Sports Bar and the main gate off Union Avenue.
The historic elements of the Saratoga Walk of Fame have been enhanced with a pair of new interactive digital display tables, which enable users to watch video replays from each running of the Travers Stakes and Whitney Handicap dating back to 1973. Executives from the New York Racing Association were joined by Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr. to demonstrate the new displays.
Officials from NYRA and manufacturer KONE also gathered to formally unveil the new escalator which leads from the Clubhouse to the backyard and offers protection from the elements with a permanent, copper roof.
All fans in attendance on Opening Day received a free scratch-off ticket, with paid admission, through which they won a variety of prizes, including $100 betting vouchers and NYRA merchandise, as well as vouchers for concessions, program books, general admission and parking.
At the Community Outreach Booth, which provides local non-profit organizations with the opportunity to interact with thousands of guests who visit Saratoga and raise funds, NYRA hosted Saratoga Performing Arts Center in honor of its 50th anniversary. The day’s second race was named in honor of the milestone year for the performing arts venue.
Friday saw the return of Taste NY Craft Beer, during which guests sampled a selection of New York craft beers at the Saratoga Pavilion, presented by Time Warner Cable News. The sampling event is held in partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets each Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
A number of other enhancements to the historic property greeted fans throughout the day, including:
- The addition of two dozen high-definition televisions in the Fourstardave Sports Bar to bring the total number to 60. Guests this year can reserve two-person tables in addition to four- and six-tops. The Fourstardave Sports Bar includes an extensive selection of craft beers and will be open to the public following the last race on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- The official unveiling of The Easy Goer, the hospitality area that sits above the Fourstardave Sports Bar, which welcomes guests for a sit-down dining experience and features a new copper roof that replaces the former awning.
- A new Travers Bar, featuring Moet & Chandon champagne, greets guests on the Clubhouse porch near the maître d stand.
Opening Day also featured the debut of the Bets Squad, a group of individuals available to educate fans on various aspects of wagering, including how to read a program book and use a self-service betting terminal. The Bets Squad will be stationed in gazebos located in the upper grandstand and outside the paddock entrance throughout the meet, and fans can schedule private sessions with Bets Squad members.
The Bets Squad will return on Saturday for the all-new NYRA Bets Lounge at the Saratoga Pavilion, where fans will receive handicapping tips and analysis from racing professionals while enjoying a champagne bar and Lifestyles clothing boutique. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and continues through 5 p.m.
Total paid attendance for Friday, July 22 was 32,980.
A limited number of reserved seats are available for the remainder of opening weekend; as are bookings for select hospitality offerings, including the At the Rail Pavilion and Luxury Suites. Reserved seats are available for purchase through Ticketmaster.com. Reservations for the At the Rail and Luxury Suites may be made through the NYRA Box Office by phone at (844) NYRA-TIX. Ticket sales and reservations are based on availability; all will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The 2016 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 5. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, call (518) 584-6200 or visit www.nyra.com.