Opening Day of the 2018 season at Saratoga Race Course generated all-sources handle of $20,247,319, the second consecutive season that wagering exceeded this milestone figure.
On-track handle was $5,403,833, an increase of nearly eight percent over 2017.
Opening day of racing was highlighted by the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for juvenile fillies, the first stakes race for the 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course, as John Oxley's Catherinethegreat wired the field in impressive fashion to win by 4 ¼ lengths.
The Schuylerville was part of the NYRA Bets Lake Pick 5 which returns for the 2018 season. The multi-race wager, which quickly became one of the most popular bets in the nation last summer, covers the last five races of every card of live racing at Saratoga. It features a minimum single-ticket payout of $150,000 daily and $300,000 on Saturdays to NYRA Bets customers nationwide online and on-track in New York. The offer is only available to NYRA Bets customers.
“It's great to be back at Saratoga for another season of the best thoroughbred racing in the world supported by great fans. Opening Day is always special, and this year was made even more so with the debut of our new hospitality area called The Stretch,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “The weather could not have been more perfect as we look forward to a tremendous summer meet featuring the greatest owners, trainers, jockeys and horses in the sport.”
The Stretch, located in the Grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, welcomed a sold-out, standing-room only crowd for its inaugural afternoon at the Spa. The first significant enhancement to the Grandstand in more than 50 years, the private hospitality area offers a casual environment featuring new modern boxes, a two-tiered dining area alongside an expansive bar, and more than 200 premium reserved seats.
Guests at The Stretch today enjoyed exclusive access to a variety of amenities, including a full-service bar, kitchen and concessions, high-definition televisions and video screens, special events and private restrooms, all set against a breathtaking backdrop of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch run.
In addition to The Stretch, capital improvements at Saratoga this season include the continuation of efforts to restore copper that historically bordered the slate-covered roof on buildings throughout the property. Copper today extends along the exterior of the Clubhouse from the Easy Goer to the Club Terrace, which is designed to help preserve and protect the building from inclement weather.
NYRA today also welcomed Berkshire Bank to serve as the official partner of the Saratoga Family Zone. The Berkshire Bank Family Zone is a smoke- and alcohol-free interactive play area with an oval multi-lane running track, a miniature replica starting gate, a “selfie” photo station, spring horses and educational panels designed to teach children about the life of a race horse. New features for the 2018 season include a complimentary phone charging station, courtesy of Berkshire Bank, and a giant Adirondack-style chair designed for photo opportunities.
Opening weekend of the 2018 season will resume with the meet's first Grade 1 event, the Diana, on Saturday, July 21. Stakes action will continue on Sunday with the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
On Sunday, fans will also enjoy the first giveaway of the season – a black baseball cap emblazoned with the red Saratoga logo, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel (free with paid admission, while supplies last).
Paid attendance for Opening Day, Friday, July 20, 2018 was 33,714.
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