Local training for this summer’s meet at the Saratoga Race Course starts Saturday.
The historic Oklahoma Training Track began its official spring training of thoroughbreds at 6 a.m. There are only three months until the annual meet kicks off July 19.
Renovations to a dormitory for backstretch workers had expected to be completed by now, but New York Racing Association President Ellen McClain said at a board meeting Thursday that it is behind schedule. There were plans this year to upgrade two dormitories, with NYRA board member Michael Dubb previously saying the focus was on new locker room facilities and changes to the heating and cooling systems.
“They will be a model for us to build on,” he said, promising other board members would feel comfortable sleeping there.
McClain said Thursday that both dormitories should be completed by the start of this summer’s meet.
On pace for completion by Aug. 3 is the viewing stand at the Oklahoma track.
“That is all under way,” said McClain, who noted permits should be granted this week for construction.
The viewing stand will serve as a permanent monument for the Saratoga 150 celebration.
Another big project for NYRA in Saratoga Springs is at the Yaddo Gardens, where efforts including dredging ponds is in the third phase of an ongoing cleanup project. McClain said this should be done by the middle of June.
Phase two, which included putting in earthen dams, was completed last year.
NYRA is involved in these efforts because runoff from Saratoga Race Course had flowed onto the nearby Yaddo property for years, leaving silt and manure in some of the artist retreat’s ponds.
McClain said they will soon begin talk about phase four at Yaddo.
There was also a discussion about the ongoing search for a new CEO during Thursday’s NYRA board meeting. Board Chairman David Skorton said the search committee doesn’t have a short list, but noted that more than 150 potential prospects or sources had been interviewed.
The CEO job has been vacant since last spring, when Charlie Hayward was fired over his alleged role in a takeout scandal that cost bettors millions.
NYRA is offering a $300,000 base salary and about $250,000 in annual incentives for the next CEO.
Skorton said there is no target date on when a CEO will be selected. Once a CEO is chosen, they will take over running day-to-day operations, which have been handled by McClain since Hayward was fired. She is leaving NYRA on April 30, with the board planning to come up with an interim leadership plan by then.