What was the economic impact of the Saratoga racing season?

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In a photo provided by the New York Racing Association, Essential Quality, left, with jockey Luis Saez, holds off Midnight Bourbon, with Ricardo Santana Jr., to win the Travers Stakes horse race Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Adam Coglianese/New York Racing Association via AP)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Saratoga Springs has hung up its hat on track season, but what was the economic outcome for local businesses? 

Maddy Zanetti, Impressions co-owner, said the peak of the pandemic kept cash in people’s wallets. And this year, they were ready to shop after missing out on vacation splurging.

“We saw that even if the foot traffic was similar on a certain day, people were spending more,” Zanetti said. 

She said some of her store’s most popular products are out of stock, and that barware and food items were hot-ticket items throughout the season. 

“People aren’t going to bars or restaurants as much to drink. So, they are making at-home bars,” Zanetti said. 

Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said hotel stays were down compared to the 2019 racing season, but early projections show visitors were spending more this year.

New York Racing Association attendance numbers reflect that trend. NYRA was down around 10,000 people from 2019 to 2021. 

However, betting both on and off the track broke records in 2021. The all-sources racing handle was at $815,508,063 this year. That’s up 15.6% from the previous record set in 2019 at $705,343,949.

“It’s been like the roaring 20s here in Saratoga,” Shimkus said. 

He said the only thing that limited local businesses from making even more money were staffing struggles.

“We had a lot of restaurants, a lot of retailers shut down for a day or two during the week,” Shimkus said. 

Shimkus is hopeful the economic boost will continue in Saratoga County with Live Nation concerts and convention season throughout Fall and Winter. 

He told News10 ABC that the Chamber of Commerce’s final statistics on the economic impact of the racing season will be available the first week of October.

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