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NYRA officially announces changes to Saratoga Race Course schedule

OZONE PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced adjustments of racing dates for the Saratoga summer meet and the 2019 Belmont Park spring/summer meet.

The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) approved the 2019 Saratoga meet to begin on Thursday, July 11 and run through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

NYRA says Following opening weekend, Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, racing at Saratoga will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Closing week will run Wednesday, August 28 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

“It gives downtown merchants an extra weekend, so that gives us that economic engine that we love,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly.

Saratoga Springs businesses are bracing for the change.

“We’re trying to decide if it’s a benefit or if it’s going to spread things out. We’re still a little bit on the fence about that,” said co-owner of Impressions Marianne Baker.

“We'll have to take it into account. It’s the exact same business we’re doing during season, and during season we’re doing double if not triple, if not quadruple the business,” said Mercantile Bar and Restaurant Justin Laviolette.

The biggest impact will be felt on the horses and their trainers. New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Executive Director Tracey Eagen said this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a population of race horses that have dwindled over the years.

“By shortening the week, you’ll be giving the horses more days off, so it won’t be so hard on the trainers to get their horses into the races,” Eagen said. “It’s all about the horse. You keep the horse safe and you keep the jockeys safe, and then you keep the public happy,”Eagen continued.

"Given the initial and proposed timelines for the potential construction of a new arena at Belmont Park, we believe it is the responsible action to move our racing operations to Saratoga Race Course slightly earlier than usual this summer," said NYRA Interim CEO David O'Rourke. "We appreciate the patience of our horsemen, fans and the community in awaiting this announcement. We are working diligently with our stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to this new calendar."

There will be no change to the number of live racing days at Saratoga. That number will remain at 40, the same since 2010.


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