Saratoga Gaming and Raceway
Saratoga Gaming and Raceway is a ½-mile standardbred harness racing dirt track located in Saratoga Springs, New York, just across Nelson Avenue from Saratoga Race Course which hosts thoroughbred racing each August. Saratoga Gaming and Raceway also includes a video gaming facility, The Racino.
Saratoga Raceway aka The Saratoga Equine Sports Center – otherwise known as the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway – was opened in 1941 as a facility for American harness racing and was the third racetrack to have pari-mutuel wagering. The track is located in Saratoga Springs in the state of New York and is right across the road from the Saratoga Race Course, a thouroughbred-racing track. The raceway is a half-mile in distance 1-mile (1.6 km) and two laps of the course are required for a one-mile race.
According to the history books, the Saratoga harness racing legend was born when two horses named Lady Suffolk (aka The Old Gray Mare) and Moscow were set against each other in a staged race. The event went down in history and spawned a culture of harness racing that still survives to this day. In fact, the sport is so popular that you will often find it being enjoyed on a lower scale at county fairs across the country. The Saratoga Raceway is a relatively small facility and it enjoys a peaceful country setting which gives it a reputation for being the most beautiful ½ mile track in the United States. More recent years have also seen the Raceway being developed into a video gaming facility known as The Racino. The Racino has been fully upgraded and provides all the state of the art entertainment and refreshment that a patron could possibly want.
So when the racing season ends, patrons can turn their attention to the gaming facilities and continue to enjoy their time spent at the Raceway. This has been a great help in reviving the Raceway by providing millions of dollars worth of additional funds. This money is spent both in increasing the prize money at the racing events, which draws more exciting competition, and in maintaining and developing the gaming and racing facilities. The Saratoga Gaming Raceway places an emphasis on fun, friendliness and fine horses. Visit this picturesque raceway and enjoy the racing and gambling combination for yourself.
In 2005 and 2006, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway was host to the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions. The night of champions, normally ran at Yonkers Raceway, was brought to Saratoga Gaming and Raceway because of the renovations being done to Yonkers, converting their track to a racino.
The night of champions gave Saratoga their highest purse offerings for a single day, offering over $1 million in total purses. Purses overall at the 1/2 mile oval have increased significantly since the addition of the VLTs.
Horses today run for a maximum purse of $15,000 in weekly open races (in divisions of Pace, Trot and Filly and Mare Pace). The minimum claimer purse is around $3,000. Before the VLTs came in, the maximum purse was $5,000 for a "Winners over $5,000 Lifetime" condition, and the minimum purse was $1,100 for a $2,500 claiming conditioned handicap.
Bret Hanover - won the 1965 Battle of Saratoga pace
Niatross - lost for the first time in his career when he fell over the hubrail in the stretch and did not finish - July 5, 1980. Trenton Time went on to win the race in 1:59.3. Niatross was uninjured and raced the following week.
Mack Lobell - won the Breeders Crown for aged trotting horses in a track record setting time of 1:56.0 on August 5, 1988 for driver John Campbell
Nevele Pride - won the 1968 Battle of Saratoga trot for legendary horseman Stanley Dancer
Scenic Regal - Trotting mare who raced often at Saratoga for local horseman Harold Story and went on to earn over $1 million in purses. She was named Trotting Mare of the year 3 years in a row and set a world record for older trotting mares in her 1:58.0 win at Saratoga on August 19, 1987 (still a track record).
Bunny Lake - Millionaire mare and 2001 Horse of the Year was stabled at Saratoga for her trainer. John Stark, Jr. Bunny Lake raced at Saratoga several times and held the all-age track record from 2002 to 2006.
Dan Cappello, Jr. - leading driver at Saratoga for most of the 1990s and 2000s
Kim Crawford - leading driver at Saratoga most of the 1980s
Del Miller - raced at Saratoga Raceway in the early years, and is an inductee into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame.
J.P. Morel - leading driver at Saratoga in much of the 1970s
Bill O'Donnell - moved to Saratoga in 1979 and set the all-time record for most wins (279) at a single track in a single season. O'Donnell soon moved to The Meadowlands and became one of the leading driver in the harness racing.
John Stark, Jr. - a top driver and trainer based at Saratoga since the mid 1990s, conditioned Horse of the Year Bunny Lake and many other stakes performers
Harold Story - a longtime fixture who drove and trained from the 1950s through the early 1990s. Story is best remembered as the trainer and driver of 3 time Trotting Mare of the Year and Scenic Regal (1987–1989) who earned over a million dollars for Story. Saratoga has named a Stakes series for younger trotters in Story's honor.
Saratoga Gaming and Raceway became the first gaming facility to open in New York State when it opened the doors to its newly renovated racino on January 28, 2004. As of 2009 the racino has over 1,700 video gaming machines, VAPOR a Night Club (open to patrons age 21 and over), The Lodge Reastaurant, three full-service bars, 2 hot dog stands, Jackpot's Deli, Fourtunes a track-side restaurant which is open during live racing, The Garden Buffet, a food court, valet parking, a simulcast racing center and a variety of guest services in the space which used to house the grandstand. All food centers except for the Garden Buffet are open to those people of all ages. The Garden Buffet is located off of the gaming floor therefore patrons must be age 18 or older. The gaming floor is now Template:Rnd/c6dec0 square feet (9,300 m2) after the 2007 expansion.
The gaming floor at the racino expanded in 2007, adding more machines, a nightclub called Vapor and The Garden Buffet restaurant to the services offered. As of May 2010 Saratoga Gaming & Raceway has plans to add an additional 400 parking spots near their Jefferson St. entrance and also has plans to renovate their current food court in to a new restaurant named Lucky Joe's. The Lucky Joe's grand opening is estimated to be sometime during the Fall of 2010. The new expanded parking lot is expected to be fully open by July 3, 2010. The racino is also known in Saratoga Springs for it's amazing Independece Day fireworks display held annually on July 3.
The addition of the video gaming machines has revitalized the racing at Saratoga Gaming & Raceway by providing millions of dollars in additional funds for purses.