Saratoga Poised for Big Horse Racing Season with Return of Fans

| July 26, 2021

Following a quiet summer at Saratoga Race Course last year, all bets are off this year as the world’s most popular race track readies to open for the 153rd time.

The term “open” is essential here. The 40-day meet, which brings together the greatest horses, trainers, and riders each year, will also be reintroduced to those who were unable to attend last year. That’s all there is to it. Meanwhile, horse racing enthusiasts and wagers can obtain a Bet365 promotional code, the code works for all: sports, casino, games and poker offers. The Saratoga event is one of the most popular, and one that bettors will look forward to.

Last year, the Saratoga gates were closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, which compelled health and government officials to do so. Every race day, there was an eerie silence across the grounds. The major races, including the Travers, Alabama, and Whitney, were held in front of just the owners, trainers, key personnel, and the media.

“Really, it was sort of a depressing meet,” said Mechanicville’s Chad Brown, a three-time winner as the top trainer at Saratoga. “We had a lot of nice horses to run and we won some big races, but it was so different to go through it with no fans there, no family there. Just a very empty feeling throughout the meet, I think, for everybody.”

“Saratoga is the one place where we race that has the most electric crowd, the most enthusiastic crowd,” said Todd Pletcher, a 14-time leading trainer at the Spa who will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on Aug. 6. “The fans are very knowledgeable. It’s what you’ve grown accustomed to your whole career, and last year just didn’t seem right.”

Things are looking up after a bleak 2020. Vaccinations have restored some feeling of normalcy, and Saratoga begins with a sense of expectation that hasn’t been felt in a long time.

The New York Racing Association is expected to achieve new attendance and handling records. Saratoga is one of the few racetracks that attracts crowds. It only made 2021 a slam dunk destination when it was shut down a year ago.

“I think the place is ready to explode,” trainer James Bond said. “Every person I have talked to about Saratoga can’t wait to get here and get going. I think it’s going to be a coming-out party like they’ve never seen before.”

On opening day, anybody who shows proof of immunization via the New York State Excelsior Pass will receive free grandstand entry, according to the NYRA.

Those who have not been vaccinated are instructed to attend the races wearing masks.

The stakes program is looking good. The New York Racing Association will host 76 stakes races valued at a total of $21.5 million. The Whitney Stakes on August 7 and the Travers on August 28 are two of the 19 Grade I events on the calendar.

Despite the empty grandstand last year, the Saratoga brand was still able to pull in $702,535,468 in all-sources handle. This summer, the all-time high of $705,343,949 is expected to be topped.

The overall attendance for the 39 days of racing in 2019 was 1,056,053. More than a million people attended for the sixth year in a row. The all-time attendance record for a meet was set in 2018, when 1,124,149 people walked through the gates. This may also happen this year.

Category: International

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