SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Opening day of the Saratoga Race Course is a time-honored tradition, but this year, there will be no mad dash and no fans in the stands.
One of the city’s top concerns is that fans will try to gather outside the track and sneak a peek of the racing. NYRA has installed temporary privacy screens on the outside fences to discourage people from coming.
“The enthusiasm for the Saratoga meet is unparalleled and these are painful conversations,” said NYRA’s Director of Communications Pat McKenna.
NYRA representatives and city leaders outlining their safety plans for the first ever spectator free season in more than 150 years.
“The critical part of this meet however is that we celebrate racing, but we celebrate it at home,” said Commissioner of Public Safety Robin Dalton.
Assistant Chief John Catone says there’s been social media chatter about fans planning to gather outside the track so two officers will be assigned to the race course.
“Making sure that we do not have any issues on the Union Avenue side or the Nelson Avenue side in terms of fans showing up with coolers and lawns chairs and et cetera and creating social distancing pedestrian flow issues,” said Catone.
All personnel at the track must wear masks, social distance, and be tested.
“That was our pledge to the city that everyone produce a negative test result,” said McKenna.
The 152nd meet will be a racing season like no other, with NYRA hoping next year will mean the return of a loyal fanbase.
NYRA hasn’t ruled out the chance that horse owners or a limited number of fans will be allowed at the track at some point in the season if the state allows.