668 days. That’s how long it’s been since fans were last able to enjoy a beautiful day at Saratoga Race Track. Traditions were broken. There was no 7am sprinting to tables after a long night out on Caroline Street. There was no drinking beer and betting on the ponies in the picnic area or clubhouse. There was no post-races walk to the Horseshoe. There was no dancing the night away at Dangos. Instead, the great city of Saratoga Springs struggled through COVID just like the rest of the world. But finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s take a look at what Saratoga is looking like in a post-COVID world.
On June 16th, as New York state lifted their restrictions, NYRA announced that Saratoga Race Track would be open at 100% capacity. That’s right, there will be absolutely no limit to the amount of people there – especially considering that the track hasn’t reached the roughly 50,000 capacity since American Pharoah came to visit for the 2015 Travers.
While the majority of people won’t have to wear masks, those that are unvaccinated are “required to wear a facial covering, in accordance with the CDC”, per NYRAs press release. That being said…Saratoga Race Track will NOT be checking people’s vaccination statuses upon entry to the track, and nor do you need to show proof to purchase tickets/season passes.
So in other words…the track is back. The picnic area will be packed, the clubhouse will be rocking, and losing bet slips will be raining down across the entire park. The food trucks will be scattered and I cannot wait to get some buffalo chicken mac & cheese from the Mac Truck.
Reserved seating tickets are still available on Ticketmaster, but as always you’ll be able to purchase admission at the gates when you arrive. Note that if you are vaccinated and show proof upon entry on opening day, you get free grandstand admission (aka you save $7).
Also, if you happen to be an owner, NYRA also announced purse increases in each race. Higher purses = more money. And more money = more competition. Bring on the races.
If you’ve been to town over the past few weeks, I’m sure you’ve noticed things are starting to pick up significantly. More and more people are coming in whether it be for the summer or just for a weekend and it’s beginning to show. Restaurants are constantly packed on the weekend, and good luck finding a spot on Broadway without a reservation on a Friday evening. But hey, after what we experienced last summer, I don’t think too many people are complaining in the end.
Just like most places in America, the bars are absolutely back; and honestly – I believe they’re better than ever. Saratoga has become an increasingly popular destination for summertime nightlife over the years, and that certainly isn’t going to change this year. Lines outside of places like Dangos, Saratoga City Tavern, and Gaffney’s are a guarantee on a Friday or Saturday night. The good thing is that newer bars such as Night Owl and Soundbar have taken some of the attention away from the others, which makes for even better bar hopping and hopefully shorter lines altogether.
I mean, just check out this video from the band Funk Evolution of their first night back at Dangos this summer. Absolute electric factory. Get me there.
While the site lost some of its steam after last year’s Saratoga season, my goal is to ramp it up like never before; similar to what I expect Saratoga to be like this year. Per usual, I plan on having some race previews and betting predictions, but there’s so much more that I want to bring to this site. From the beginning, I’ve wanted to do video content, but for whatever reason I didn’t really get into it. That’s going to change this year. Expect to be seeing more and more content in the coming weeks, as I am gearing up for an electric eight weeks of races at the Spa. So make sure to stay up to date with all things Saturdays in the Spa by following us on Twitter @SpaSaturdays (or my personal page – @kylelevy123).
14 days. That’s how long it will be until fans pour into Saratoga Race Track once again. Traditions may have been broken last summer but that won’t stop us from bringing them back to life. Saturdays in Upstate New York are meant to be celebrated at the track with your friends and family, drinking and gambling, enjoying live music, and having the absolute time of your life. So get ready ladies and gentlemen, because Saturdays in the Spa are fucking back, and we aren’t going anywhere this time around.