Why move the horses, trainers, and staff 170 miles north if no one can see the races in person? Some have wondered when the news came that the pandemic would close Saratoga Racecourse to the public.
Even closed, the historic course, now in its 152nd season, could surpass Belmont in attracting punters who produce the day-to-day driving that is essential to NYRA’s success.
In a typical year, Saratoga Horse Racing Tickets are sold at the door and online through Tickets4race. Reserved seats are generally available in the Grandstand and the Club House. However, under New York State guidelines, the Saratoga Racecourse opened on July 16, 2020, without the assistance of fans.
In the first four days of the race, Saratoga earned $ 80 million in handfuls, almost double the $ 41 million Belmont had dealt in his last four days.
The $ 80,325,660 that was wagered from all sources, from Las Vegas and tribal casinos to online gambling sites, including NYRA gambling, was also up 9.4% from the first four days of the game. of the year. earlier, when the public could visit the racetrack in person.
“The ID numbers are pretty consistent,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said Thursday. “Historically, we are seeing increases from Belmont to Saratoga.”
Even the presentation of trophies in the winner’s circle seemed surreal. Maybe two, or maybe three people are in the circle, masked and six feet apart. A long boom with a microphone at the end picks up and amplifies what they have to say. And then it’s in the next race.
The NYRA is, therefore, doing its best to stay at the center of the concerns of residents and tourists who inhabit Saratoga in the summer.
Picnic tables typically in the so-called racetrack backyard are now located in the city’s front yard in Congress Park, with their NYRA models visible.
Fox Sports will cover full coverage of every race from Saratoga, broadcast on FS2 nationally, and MSG Networks regionally. Additional coverage is underway on FS1 and Runhappy Travers on the Fox Network. This recent race was named after the champion sprinter Runhappy.
And the NYRA is even working with the Saratoga County Animal Shelter to find dog homes with virtual adoption clinics throughout the summer. NYRA charges adoption fees normally charged by the animal shelter.
One of the biggest successes of this meeting was the presentation of NYRA Bets gift cards available at 150 Stewart’s stores in the Capital Region. The $ 50 cards can be used to top up NYRA Bets betting accounts or purchased to be used as a gift for someone who enjoys horse racing.
“We had hoped they would be popular, but the cards exceeded our expectations,” said Tony Allevato, chief revenue officer and president of NYRA Bets. And with most of the meetings with Saratoga to come, he hopes the card market will continue. Whitney Day, Travers Day and Kentucky Derby are always in the future.
NYRA has evolved online over the past few years, with NYRA Bets and all of its features as a major component. NYRA TV coverage and YouTube channel coverage provided fans with an easy way to watch the races. NYRA does not disclose the number of registered fans on NYRA Bets.
“He has the highest margin on the track” for NYRA, added O’Rourke. “This year, we don’t have good management. That’s why we’re so focused on building the brand.”
NYRA says he and other New York City thoroughbred tracks are responsible for 19,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $ 3 billion, supporting hundreds of small businesses, from local stores and restaurants to hotels in the area around their race tracks. careers.
That’s why the seasonal move to Saratoga Springs, with the extra handles it provided, was so critical, especially this summer when the pandemic slowed travel and prevented crowds from visiting the racetrack in person.
And soon there may be more competition.
“It’s been a great first week here,” O’Rourke said. “But we are facing more competition,” notably Major League Baseball, which will grab the attention of punters. “It’s a 40 days meeting,” added O’Rourke.