SARATOGA SPRINGS – The historic “Wilson Chute” at Saratoga Race Course will be reconstructed and in use this summer for one-mile races on the main track, the New York Racing Association said.
A longtime distinctive part of Saratoga Race Course, the chute was dismantled after the 1972 season to accommodate additional parking, the association said in a statement.
It was brought back briefly in 1992 when 25 races started in the chute, including an off-the-turf edition of the Grade 3 Daryl’s Joy, later renamed the Fourstardave Handicap and now one of the most popular Grade 1 races of the annual summer meet.
“The “Wilson Chute” will only add to the quality and consistency of dirt racing at Saratoga,” said Glen Kozak, NYRA’s senior vice president of operations and capital projects. “It’s a thrill to be able to reconstruct a historic element of Saratoga in a way that will undoubtedly prove beneficial to the summer meet.”
The chute was named to honor the contributions of the late Richard T. Wilson, a banker and president of the Saratoga Racing Association for most of the first quarter of the 20th century.
The reconstructed “Wilson Chute” will carefully follow the route of the original chute along the Clubhouse Turn, just to the east of the 1863 Club.
The project to reconstruct the chute has the support of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and will be accompanied by upgrades to the Tailgate at the Turn picnic area located at the Clubhouse Turn.
Wilson was among a group of investors led by William C. Whitney who purchased Saratoga Race Course in 1900. Wilson oversaw major capital improvements to the track’s facilities, which resulted in the overall beautification of the historic property.
“The Foundation is pleased that the chute that was part of the 1902 Master Plan, designed by landscape architect Charles Leavitt, Jr., is being restored,” said Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. “The 1902 Master Plan included enlarging the track, moving it westward, and rotating it 25 degrees as well as inserting a steeplechase course into the infield. The Foundation looks forward to reviewing the plans as they develop. This restoration will certainly add to the excitement of racing.”