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No changes to 2020 Saratoga Race Course meet format

No changes to 2020 Saratoga Race Course meet format

2020 meet opens on July 16
No changes to 2020 Saratoga Race Course meet format
Opening Day for the 2020 Saratoga Race Course meet will be Thursday, July 16.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association had toyed with making a change to the 2020 Saratoga meet, but ultimately opted for the if-it-ain't-broke approach.

The 152nd meet will open on Thursday, July 16, and close on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 7.

NYRA switched to a five-days-week racing format last year, with dark days on Mondays and Tuesday. CEO and president David O'Rourke said toward the end of the meet that he was interested in experimenting with Tuesday and Wednesday for the dark days. In light of big betting handle and paid attendance numbers in 2019 — and in consultation with the local business community — NYRA stuck with what worked.

"The changes we made to the 2019 season received an overwhelmingly positive response from our horsemen, fans and the community," O'Rourke said in a NYRA statement. "We asked the local and racing communities for their feedback to these changes following the conclusion of the meet. Given their support, and to maintain consistency and stability for our fans and stakeholders, we will conduct a similar racing schedule in 2020."

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce endorsed the decision, citing support from organizations such as the Saratoga Downtown Business Association and Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau.

"We assembled a group representing local hotels, restaurants, retailers and entertainment and recreation destinations to meet with NYRA following the summer meet," Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce pesident Todd Shimkus said. "By the end of the discussion, everyone understood why two dark days is best going forward and agreed that keeping those two days consistent with this past summer offers the best chance to attract more visitors. We appreciate NYRA's collaboration with our local hospitality partners to make a decision in the best interest of the community."

The 2019 meet generated more than $700 million in all-sources handle for the first time in the history of the Spa despite a pair of weather-related cancellations that included a full Saturday card of racing. Paid attendance at Saratoga also surpassed one million fans for the fifth consecutive season.

The Saratoga Local Advisory Board also expressed its support.

"We appreciate the constructive and ongoing dialogue with NYRA and enthusiastically support the five-day racing schedule moving forward," Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board Chairman Joseph A. Torani said in the NYRA release. "Nothing is more important to the local economy than Saratoga Race Course, and we look forward to the continued success of thoroughbred racing at the Spa."

A complete stakes schedule for the 2020 Saratoga meet will be finalized in the near future.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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