Saratoga harness opens to fans on Monday

ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE Harness racing at Saratoga Casino will be open to spectators on Monday.

Harness racing at Saratoga Casino will be open to spectators on Monday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The casino side of the Saratoga Casino and Hotel has been up and running to the public since Sept. 9.

The harness racing side of what many still call Saratoga Raceway will catch up on Monday.

Spectators will be allowed on the grounds to watch racing for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down last year.

The harness track has been running without fans since June 18, 2020.

Since the April 14 announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that racetracks in New York could begin allowing a limited number of fans to attend the races, Belmont Park opened up on Saturday, and the Saratoga harness track will follow suit on Monday for its noon card.

“We had a lot of our race fans calling about that,” Saratoga Casino director of marketing Amy Brannigan said. “We sympathize with their frustration and understand it, but obviously we were just following the guidelines that have been issued by the state all along.

“But we can absolutely understand, because we’re one property, and the casino is attached to the racing section. We have gotten several calls over the last several months that the casino has been open, but not racing.”

There is no admission charge, but spectators will have to pass a temperature screening. There is no proof of vaccination or negative COVID test requirement.

There will be a single point of entry that will monitor numbers up to a maximum capacity of 200 people.

Spaces available for viewing of the live races include the grandstand; at benches socially distanced on the apron; the lower clubhouse, where the concession counter will be open for food and beverage business; and in the Lucky Joe’s dining area.

There will be some mutuel clerk windows open, and the mezzanine and new SaratogaBets Simulcast Center will also be available for wagering on out-of-town tracks.

Spectators will be required to wear facemasks at all times.

“Everything is marked for social distancing, and there’s signage for people to be mindful of the social distance guidelines even when they’re outside on the apron,” Brannigan said. “That 200 will count toward whether you’re inside or outside.

“We’re anticipating that we have a lot of happy race fans, now that they’ll be able to return.”

The 80th season of harness racing at the casino opened on March 1 without spectators.

The track offers live racing Monday through Wednesday, with a first post of noon. Wednesday evening cards will begin on July 21. 

Categories: Sports

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