A thoroughbred track located on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, New York, Saratoga Race Course opened in 1863. It is the fourth-oldest race track in the United States. Saratoga’s motto is health, history, and horses in an area famously known for its mineral baths.
Harness racing in Saratoga dates back to 1847. In August of 1863, approximately a month after the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg, gambler, casino owner, ex-bare knuckle boxing champion and future Congressman John “Old Smoke” Morrissey launched the first thoroughbred meet in Saratoga. It lasted all of four days.
Morrissey purchased 94 acres across the street from the Saratoga Trotting Grounds to construct Saratoga Race Course almost immediately after the conclusion of his inaugural meet. Within a year, construction was completed on a permanent grandstand. The 1864 race season commenced on August 4th with the inaugural running of the Travers Stakes.
In the mid-1960s, the size of the Saratoga grandstand was increased, doubling the capacity of the track to 50,000.
Today, the track holds a 40 race day meet, usually contested from mid-July though Labor Day. There are three tracks at Saratoga. The main dirt track has a 1⅛ mile length. The Mellon Turf Course is one mile in length. There’s also an inner turf track that covers seven furlongs and features steeplechase racing as well as thoroughbred events.
Over the years, Saratoga has earned a reputation as a graveyard for champions. Horse-racing legend Man o’ War suffered the only loss of his career to the appropriately-named Upset in the 1919 Sanford Stakes. Gallant Fox, the 1930 Triple Crown winner, was beaten by Jim Dandy in the 1930 Travers Stakes. Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, was defeated by Onion in the 1973 Whitney Stakes. Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, lost the 2010 Personal Ensign Stakes to Persistently. American Pharoah, winner of the 2015 Triple Crown, fell to Keen Ice in the 2015 Travers Stakes.
Saratoga has also popped up occasionally in pop culture references. The track appears in the early scenes of the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Singer Carly Simon included the track in her 1972 number one hit, “You’re So Vain with the line “I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won.”
Saratoga Race Course is licenced by the Schenectady-based New York State Gaming Commission.
Major Horse Betting Events at the Venue
The Travers Stakes and Whitney Stakes highlight a busy stakes season at Saratoga Race Course that includes 18 Grade 1 stakes races.
Past winners of the Travers include Man o’ War in 1920. Horse of the Year Damascus won the 1967 Travers by 22 lengths. Triple Crown winner Whirlaway won the race in 1941. He remains the only horse in history to win the “superfecta” of racing – the three legs of the Triple Crown and the Travers. The race has also featured two dead heats for the win. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has ridden a record six winners of the Travers Stakes.
A who’s who of horse racing elite have won the Whitney, a race that dates back to 1928. The list includes Easy Goer, Tom Fool, Dr. Fager, Stymie, Invasor, Slew o’ Gold, Alydar, Ancient Title, Key to the Mint, Devil Diver, Eight Thirty, War Admiral, Discovery and Equipoise. Kelso won the Whitney three times, his last victory coming in 1965 at the age of eight. Discovery won the race three years in a row from 1934-36.
A victory in the Whitney earns the winner an automatic berth in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Other Grade I stakes at Saratoga include the Alabama, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Ballerina, Coaching Club American Oaks, Diana, Flower Bowl, Forego, Fourstardave, H. Allen Jenkins Memorial, Hopeful, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Personal Ensign, Spinaway, Saratoga Derby, Sword Dancer and Test Stakes.
Bet Types Allowed
Types of bets available at Saratoga Race Course include win, place, show, across the board, exacta, trifecta and superfecta. Bets with multiple races included are daily double, pick 3, pick 4, pick 5, pick 6 and grand slam.
Horses can be boxed in exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering, enabling a ticket to cash as a winner no matter the order of finish of the horses that are part of the box.
Parlay betting is also offered at Saratoga Race Course and other NYRA tracks. Players may pick any combination of races from the track to include in their parlay card. Bettors select between 2-6 races. The minimum bet for a parlay is $1.
Winning pari-mutuel tickets from all races conducted at Saratoga Race Course must be presented for payment on or before March 31 of the following year and can be cashed during normal business hours.
Mobile Betting App
With an NYRA Bets account, players who download the NYRA Bets app can wager on races at Saratoga Race Course directly from their mobile device. Beyond Saratoga Race Course, the NYRA Bets app provides wagering opportunities on horse racing from around the world.
The iOS version of the NYRA Bets app can be downloaded from the App Store. A link to access download for an Android device is available directly from the NYRA Bets web page.
At NYRA Bets, they offer new players a 100 percent matching first deposit bonus worth up to a maximum of $200. NYRA Bets also offers a rewards program providing points for every wager played.
In partnership with other racetracks, NYRA is participating in special Cross Country wagers combining some of the best races from NYRA and around the country. Both Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagering is offered, enabling bettors to play multiple tracks in one bet.
Look for the “XCN” symbol under the track/event menu at a self-service terminal or ‘XC P4’ or ‘XC P5’ under Today’s Racing on NYRABets.com. If making a wager with a clerk, ask for the Cross County Wagers.
NYRA is the host of these special multi-track wagers and New York rules apply. The Pick 4 features the standard NYRA $0.50 base bet and 24 percent takeout rate. The Pick 5 features the standard NYRA $0.50 base bet and 15 percent takeout rate. All Pick 5 wagers will feature a mandatory payout.