NYRA delays track opening, but Saratoga's meet on for now

NYRA delays track opening, but Saratoga's meet on for now
Photo: Konrad Weeber/HRN

The New York Racing Association has delayed the opening of the Oklahoma Training Track and stabling area at Saratoga Race Course because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Wednesday.

The Oklahoma facility originally was set to open April 15, when training traditionally gets underway in advance of the Saratoga meet, according to a news release.

NYRA said it is working with the New York State Gaming Commission and public health agencies to determine an appropriate date to safely open the Oklahoma for training and stabling.

RELATED: Churchill Downs' Spring Meet postponed

The delay does not affect the start of the Saratoga racing season. which is scheduled to begin on Thursday, July 16, and run through Labor Day, Sept. 7. The meet will be highlighted by the 151st renewal of the Travers and Whitney stakes.

Following opening weekend, July 16-19, racing will be conducted five days per week.

In a recent interview with the Albany Times-Union, Pat McKenna, a NYRA spokesman, said that "we are planning for Saratoga to open as scheduled and run in its entirety across the 40-day meet."

Saratoga's 2019 meet broke handle records and surpassed one million in paid attendance running Wednesday through Sunday, with Monday and Tuesday dark, but over a longer span of time.

"The changes we made to the 2019 season received an overwhelmingly positive response from our horsemen, fans and the community," said NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke in December, upon announcing the format would return this year. "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."

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