Years ago the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY, was a closed unconnected property, no telephones in public areas, no TV, no connections to the outside world were allowed while the races took place.
The times they are a changing albeit it slowly, at all three New York race tracks, Belmont, Aqueduct and our favorite, Saratoga, in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.
Along came off track betting, closed circuit TV, then Silent Sam terminals dotted the grounds and automated pari-mutuel windows, infiltrated the betting process.
The Modern Sport of Kings is now catering to the connected generation. I-pads and tablets are replacing the traditional Racing Form newspaper folded under the arm. Cell phones are as commonplace as the racing programs. With the proliferation of smart phones, Selfies abound…smiling faces near the finish line, smiling faces by the jockey weigh station, smiling faces by the paddock, smiling faces collecting big winnings tickets…
The beauty of the race track’s manicured green lawns, colorful flowers, abundant shade trees and iconic roof lines is legendary. These days this bucolic setting is dotted with TVs hung on tree trunks and poles, large screens projecting the race of the moment, replays and simulcasts for the crowds to view.
NYRA recently announced plans for nearly two million dollars worth of upgrades to Saratoga, the Crown Jewel of Race Tracks. Included will be the installation of 750 HD televisions replacing older tube style TV’s. About two thirds will find homes in the backyard and in exterior grounds. The rest will be placed in the grandstand and clubhouse, including all dining rooms, bar and pari-mutuel areas. HD TV’s will also be placed in the Clubhouse box seats.
Video walls that can project single or multiple images at the same time will be installed in the paddock, the outdoor pari-mutuel bay, and by the Carousel Restaurant projecting races and current information. Trakus, a new high-tech system, offers television viewers the ability to effortlessly track a horse’s position from starting gate to finish line.
More improvements include 125 picnic tables added to the family friendly back yard area. The age-old honor tradition of first come first served will continue. Early risers may claim their table with a table cloth, a blanket or some identifiable item for the day.
In a continuing effort to make the Sport of Kings a family friendly event, the children’s play area is being expanded and the backyard will feature an area where children of all ages can visit up close and personal with one of Saratoga Race Course’s outrider horses and learn about the day-to-day routines.
To keep the tech-savvy generation connected Wi-Fi capacity in busy areas will be improved to offer improved service and reduce connectivity delays.
Great news for all track goers…the restrooms will receive a face lift and fixture upgrades. Maybe that will that shorten the lines in the women’s bathrooms so members of that gender don’t miss the post time!
Summer visitors to beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY love to spend the day at the track. Some prefer the old fashioned way, no phones and a good pair of binoculars to watch the favorite win. Others are glued to their electronic devices and, and some may never actually see a live horses while there. Whatever your preference, NYRA is committed to making a day at the oldest race course in the country an enjoyable one for the first timer or the racing veteran…
When the day is done Saratoga Arms, Saratoga’s premiere boutique hotel, is where many race enthusiasts prefer to stay. Binoculars and/or I-pads welcome. Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Arms…the best of all worlds in beautiful Upstate New York’s Saratoga Springs, the Spa City.