Work on stables continues prior to thoroughbred training season

Workers are sprucing up stalls at the Oklahoma Training Track to get ready for the thoroughbred trai

Workers are sprucing up stalls at the Oklahoma Training Track to get ready for the thoroughbred training season, which starts next week.

The training season is slated to start on time despite questions about the fate of racing in New York state.

The first trainers are expected to come to the track April 14, although as usual, a full slate of trainers and horses won’t be here for weeks.

Officials do not yet know how many horses will train at the Oklahoma track this spring.

Stormwater work at Horse Haven, the oldest stables where the first racing meet was held in 1863, is expected to continue for a couple of weeks beyond the opening of the training season.

Officials anticipate Horse Haven will be open April 30.

That barn area was closed at the end of last year’s meet while workers started building a retention basin at the stables to comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation requirements governing stormwater runoff on big farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations, said Charles Wheeler, planning and community relations manager at Saratoga.

Building stormwater basins and taking other steps to keep manure out of the ground and water was a years-long project at Saratoga Race Course’s backstretch, and it ends with the work at Horse Haven.

“This was the last phase, so we’ll be complete,” Wheeler said.

After hiring out subcontractors initially, the New York Racing Association brought the work in-house in November to save money, said facility manager Peter Goulet.

NYRA hired two supervisors to oversee the year-round maintenance staff while they worked at Horse Haven. Doing so was cheaper than contracting with a firm to do the work, Goulet said.

“It just made financial sense.”

About a dozen people worked through the winter on the project.

The project included a new storm sewer, fire alarm and asphalt, Goulet said.

Workers now have to wait for blacktop plants to open for the spring before they can finish off the project.

Another 55 seasonal workers this week are repainting barns and getting them ready for the horses.

NYRA is preparing for the training season while officials question how NYRA’s financial problems and the state’s inability to award a successful slots bid at Aqueduct will affect Saratoga racing.

Many industry insiders have said the competition from other states and the problems in New York are driving breeders elsewhere, which will mean lesser quality racing in New York in the coming years.

The Saratoga meet is NYRA’s most profitable of its three thoroughbred race tracks, so many observers believe the meet will go on.

Categories: Schenectady County

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