On July 16th, Saratoga Race Course will open without spectators for the first time in its 156 year history thanks to New York State’s current guidelines. Not only that, but they’re also still yet to announce whether or not owners will be allowed in. Listen, I understand that this whole Coronavirus thing is a big deal, but there truly is no reasoning behind not allowing ANY spectators at the track this summer. Don’t believe me? Well, stick around and let me change your mind.
Let’s see where we’re at in terms of COVID restrictions around New York State, and Saratoga Springs specifically. If you’re from around here, you have obviously noticed the town beginning to pick back up a little bit recently. Outdoor dining has been available at restaurants here for nearly a month, and indoor dining is now available at 50% capacity. Social distancing is still enforced – as tables are all 6 feet apart and customers are required to wear a mask whenever they are not sitting at their tables.
Now let me present to you a scenario that uses the same logic as these restaurants but for Saratoga Race Course. Here’s a brief rundown of the three main dining areas in the Clubhouse at the track:
The Turf Terrace:
– 3rd and 4th floor of the Clubhouse
– Open air seating
– Capacity: 800 people
The Club Terrace:
– 2nd floor of the Clubhouse, behind the box seats
– TV’s for additional viewing purposes
– Capacity: 375 people
– Track level of the Clubhouse
– Partly open air seating
– Capacity: 825 people
Alright, so right off the bat there’s a capacity of 2,000 people across these three dining areas. If we were to take that number and cut it in half, that’s still 1,000 fans that should be allowed in these restaurants at the racetrack. Keep in mind – these are also just the specific dining areas, so this doesn’t even include normal Clubhouse seats or the semi-new upscale seating/dining called The Stretch. If you have 10 people at Bailey’s watching the ponies on the simulcast, why can’t you have 10 people at The Club Terrace watching them as well? Same guidelines would apply and visitors would have to wear a mask when not at their table. Logically – there really is not difference between the two at all, so why the hell is this even an issue?
Maybe you don’t buy into that excuse. Maybe you think that there’s no way for them to stop the fans from spreading the virus, because Saratoga is such a big attraction and brings in people from all across the Northeast! Okay, that’s a solid reason, however it’s a flawed excuse because its outcome is preventable. Places like New Hampshire have put in regulations that require individuals from beyond a certain proximity to complete waivers saying they have quarantined for 14 days prior to arrival. Obviously not everyone would be truthful, but the penalties would be harsh just like that of New York State’s current guidelines on visitors coming in from high risk states.
At last years Saratoga meet, the track averaged just over 18,000 fans each day. If you’ve been to the track, I’m sure you’re aware at just how crowded this can be…but have you ever been to the track on a random Wednesday? I couldn’t find the attendance numbers for specific days, but the place is nearly a ghost town on Wednesday’s, with an abundance of room for spectators. When you look at how distanced people can be on days like these with significantly less fans, it truly doesn’t make any sense to ban spectators altogether now. I’ve proven that 1,000 fans can sit in the 3 main clubhouse restaurants, but why not add an additional 2k-4k to spread out across the remaining areas of the track? Picnic tables…how about taking half of them away and not allowing people to set up their own tables/blankets? Count out the amount of “seats” a table fits, have X amount of tables at the track, and then you can easily set a cap on the number of fans let in.
Listen – I know following in New Jersey’s footsteps may not be the answer, but Monmouth Park is opening up for fans this weekend and I am quite intrigued to see how it plays out. They are limiting the number of fans and will be doing temperature checks at the gate for everyone entering, as well as a brief questionnaire. In all honesty, this is a pretty fair way of doing things, and I don’t think anyone would complain about having to comply with these rules should they be allowed in. Require masks when walking around and not seated and actually have people enforcing the guidelines…it’s pretty damn simple!
I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the bullshit excuses that people come up with as to why the track shouldn’t be open. If you believe that, then you should also believe that none of these restaurants should be available for dine in, but for some odd reason I don’t see too many people complaining about that. The track isn’t like other sporting venues…you don’t have 50,000 people all packed into one indoor arena. Instead, it’s 20,000 people spread out across hundreds of acres of land that is, for the most part, OUTDOORS! I mean come on, can’t people understand this? Stop being fear mongering bitches and figure it out…at MINIMUM let a limited number of fans at the track. In the end, you’re only hurting the city of Saratoga more.
Oh yeah, for those of you that are just completely against the sport of horse racing and want to use this as an attempt to cancel it – this ain’t the site for you and that is a discussion for another time, so shut the hell up and go complain about something else. Horse racing ain’t going anywhere, and nor should it.