Upgrades and renovations are in full swing at the Saratoga Race Course with opening day three months away.
The work is part of $4.4 million in capital expenditures by the New York Racing Association for 2012. It includes an expanded breakfast porch, a new clubhouse dining floor and upgrades to the water meter system. This is just part of the ongoing process at the race course, said Facilities Manager Peter Goulet.
“I’m planning now for what we’re going to do in the fall and next year. I’m implementing now what we planned last year. It’s always forward thinking,” he said. “It’s never ending.”
Goulet said he’s confident it will all get done in time, even if they’re working until the day before the meet. He added that the unusually mild winter allowed them to continue to work without many interruptions.
The most notable changes are over by the clubhouse.
The downstairs dining will stretch out six feet on the apron and be covered by an extended awning, which will feature new flower boxes.
Up two floors, the Turf Terrace will have a new look, as the carpet has been completely removed. Workers have taken out the plywood underneath that, which meant removing about 60,000 screws. They are in the process of restoring the original Douglas fir wood that was below it. They are also putting in a new row of televisions.
“It’s going to look fabulous when it’s done,” Goulet said.
Less noticeable to the patrons this summer will be the work that was finished under their feet, where new wireless water meters have been installed. This has involved digging up dirt and ripping through pavement, so city officials can get water readings simply by driving by.
Also mostly out of sight are six new boilers, new cameras and bunkhouse upgrades. “Eighty percent or more of what we do people don’t notice, and if that’s the case, we’re doing our jobs correctly,” Goulet said.
Outside the race course, the improvements by NYRA include work on the Yaddo property. They are currently wrapping up phase two of that project, which included putting in earthen dams. Phase three is being planned now and will involve dredging the three ponds.
Other work includes routine maintenance in the stables, moving production trailers away from the backside of the grandstand and clubhouse over to the gate along Union Avenue and continuing the “decluttering” of the space in front of “Restaurant Row.”
There is also a lot of painting planned before the first day of the meet, with Goulet noting that the race course is all stocked up on red, white, “safety yellow” and “barn green.” “The basic colors of the Saratoga race course,” he joked.
He also has Barn 43 in his sights. The historic barn is “melting” into the ground. As one of the oldest buildings on the property, he is hoping to add it to his to-do list.
Goulet said a viewing stand for the Oklahoma track is planned for construction after this year’s meet.
NYRA declined to give an itemized breakdown of the capital projects in Saratoga Springs.