SPRINGS, NY - /AP/ - It lasts about five hours a day for 36
days. Maintenance workers at Saratoga
Race Course, however, have spent the last four months
gearing up for the 133rd thoroughbred race meeting that starts
July 25 with the Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
160 employees - up from an off season crew of 25 - worked
10 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, to get the 350-acre
weed was left unpulled at the nation's oldest racetrack.
New York Racing Association, operator of Saratoga, Aqueduct
and Belmont Park, it was time well spent.
the Saratoga meet broke 10 attendance and handle records,
as more than 978,000 people streamed through the gates and
bet $116.4 million.
NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz hopes the number of visitors
tops 1 million for the first time. He also hopes a cut in
the amount of money taken out of each winning $2, daily double
and pick-six bet encourages more wagering.
more money goes back to the people winning bets, so the money
keeps churning,'' said Terry Meyocks, NYRA's chief operating
watchers say Saratoga
Race Course benefits from more than just quality racing.
The July 9 issue of ESPN The Magazine describes Saratoga as
"the loveliest racetrack in the country,'' and Sports
Illustrated has named the track among the greatest sports
facilities on the planet.
one of the most important things that makes us special is
the history - the traditions of this track,'' said facilities
manager George Hathaway, who first joined Saratoga's staff
has been written by horses such as Man o'War, Upset, Secretariat,
Jim Dandy, Onion and Fourstardave; jockeys Isaac Murphy, Eddie
Arcaro and Angel Cordero Jr.; and trainers Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons
and Woody Stevens.
Handicap, featuring top older horses such as Albert the Great,
will be contested Saturday. The centerpiece of the meeting
is the Travers for 3-year-olds on Aug. 25.
Racetrack at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains,
30 miles north of Albany, opened in 1863, as wealthy people
flocked to the grand hotels and natural springs that lend
the Spa City its name. One of those mineral springs is in
the popular picnic area behind the grandstands and clubhouse.