Sunday, July 20, 2014

Strong out of the gate: Saratoga meet kicks off with increased attendance, increased handle, new, fan-friendly enhancements and thrilling, world-class races

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Contact: John Durso, Jr.

NYRA Director of Communication


Strong out of the gate: Saratoga meet kicks off with increased attendance, increased handle, new, fan-friendly enhancements and thrilling, world-class races


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Highlighted by three consecutive days of increased attendance and mutuel handle, thrilling world-class racing and the unveiling of nearly $2 million in upgrades throughout the facility, the 146th meet at Saratoga Race Course was off to a spectacular start this weekend for the New York Racing Association.


"The steps taken by the New York Racing Association to enhance the guest experience and improve the quality of our racing is reflected in the successful launch of our 2014 Saratoga meet," said President and CEO Christopher Kay. "The positive momentum generated from this collective effort could not have been possible without the selfless work and dedication of the men and women of the New York Racing Association, and I want to specifically salute them all for a job well done."


After Monday's card, racing will continue for another 36 days at the historic track on a Wednesday through Monday schedule, concluding on September 1.


On Sunday, 26,106 were in attendance, with on-track wagering of nearly $3.8 million on the 11-race card, which was highlighted by Stopchargingmaria's powerhouse victory in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Many were entertained by the distinctive hats worn by the participants in the 23rd annual Hat Contest, sponsored by Lord & Taylor. The colorful contest was commemorated by the first giveaway of the meet, a red baseball cap sponsored by Saratoga Casino and Raceway.  A new giveaway policy limiting the number of vouchers that could be redeemed at one time ensured that more of Saratoga's guests were able to receive the first premium giveaway.


Victories by Big Trouble in the Grade 3 Sanford and Somali Lemonade in the Grade 1 TVG Diana were the racing highlights of Saturday's 11-race card, which generated $4.9 million in on-track handle. In between races, many of the 22,155 guests were able to visit the first of the weekly "pop-up" Lord & Taylor stores, located in the Pavilion. 


"Lord & Taylor was so well received and all who visited the Saratoga Pavilion on Fashion Saturday were incredibly gracious," said Greg Towe, general manager of Lord & Taylor, which is opening a store in Crossgates Mall in Guilderland. "The Capital Region is already welcoming Lord & Taylor back in true style."


Friday's opening day attracted 25,612 who were treated to a number of improvements including 750 new high-definition television sets, an enhanced sound system, improved wireless capabilities and a new entertainment area for families. Guests also witnessed a number of heart-pounding finishes, including Fashion Alert's victory in the Grade 3 Schuylerville, and two wins by the international riding sensation, Frankie Dettori. The opening day crowd wagered $4.2 million.


This weekend also saw the launch of the "Taste NY" booth in the Saratoga Pavilion, in partnership with Empire State Development and the New York State Tourism Advisory Council.  Cristyne Nicholas, Chair of the New York State Tourism Council, joined Kay on Opening Day to kick off the partnership, with thousands of guests frequenting the booth to taste some of the best craft beer, cider and food produced across the Empire State.


Peter Schulick, General Manager of Geneva-based Red Jacket Orchards, producers of all natural, cold-pressed, no concentrate, no sugar-added juices for more than 20 years, noted that "Taste NY has us in so many places across New York State, from all the way up and down the Thruway, in the rest stops, in New York City and in the airports".  He was pleased with opening weekend and the reception received in the "Taste NY" booth, remarking that "everyone loves the juice, and everyone is so friendly".


Also impressed with opening weekend was Italian-born Dettori, who was riding for the first time ever at Saratoga. Although he was returning to Europe following Monday's card, Dettori did not rule out a return trip.


"When I rode, I thought I was in Disney World, there were so many people," said Dettori on Friday. "I thought maybe I got the wrong venue. It's nice to see people at the races. It's very warm - the people make the atmosphere. There's a lot of warmth here.


"I am only here for four days," he added, "but I may come back."






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