Saratoga Gaming and Raceway
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
Saratoga Gaming and Raceway is a 1/2-mile standardbred harness racing dirt track located in Saratoga Springs, New York, just across Nelson Avenue from Saratoga Race Course which hosts thoroughbred racing each August. Saratoga Gaming and Raceway also includes a video gaming facility, The Racino.
Saratoga Raceway opened in 1941, and was the third racetrack to have pari-mutuel wagering. The track is a half-mile in distance, requiring 2 full laps to complete the normal 1-mile (1.6 km) race.
In 2005 and 2006, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway was host to the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions. The night of champions, normally ran at Yonkers Raceway, was brought to Saratoga Gaming and Raceway because of the renovations being done to Yonkers, converting their track to a racino.
The night of champions gave Saratoga their highest purse offerings for a single day, offering over $1 million in total purses. Purses overall at the 1/2 mile oval have increased significantly since the addition of the VLTs.
Horses today run for a maximum purse of $15,000 in weekly open races (in divisions of Pace, Trot and Filly and Mare Pace). The minimum claimer purse is around $3,000. Before the VLTs came in, the maximum purse was $5,000 for a "Winners over $5,000 Lifetime" condition, and the minimum purse was $1,100 for a $2,500 claiming conditioned handicap.
- Bret Hanover - won the 1965 Battle of Saratoga pace
- Niatross - lost for the first time in his career when he fell over the hubrail in the stretch and did not finish - July 5, 1980. Trenton Time went on to win the race in 1:59.3. Niatross was uninjured and raced the following week.
- Mack Lobell - won the Breeders Crown for aged trotting horses in a track record setting time of 1:56.0 on August 5, 1988 for driver John Campbell
- Nevele Pride - won the 1968 Battle of Saratoga trot for legendary horseman Stanley Dancer
- Scenic Regal - Trotting mare who raced often at Saratoga for local horseman Harold Story and went on to earn over $1 million in purses. She was named Trotting Mare of the year 3 years in a row and set a world record for older trotting mares in her 1:58.0 win at Saratoga on August 19, 1987 (still a track record).
- Bunny Lake - Millionaire mare and 2001 Horse of the Year was stabled at Saratoga for her trainer. John Stark, Jr. Bunny Lake raced at Saratoga several times and held the all-age track record from 2002 to 2006.
- Dan Cappello, Jr. - leading driver at Saratoga for most of the 1990s and 2000s
- Kim Crawford - leading driver at Saratoga most of the 1980s
- Del Miller - raced at Saratoga Raceway in the early years, and is an inductee into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame.
- J.P. Morel - leading driver at Saratoga in much of the 1970s
- Bill O'Donnell - moved to Saratoga in 1979 and set the all-time record for most wins (279) at a single track in a single season. O'Donnell soon moved to The Meadowlands and became one of the leading driver in the harness racing.
- John Stark, Jr. - a top driver and trainer based at Saratoga since the mid 1990s, conditioned Horse of the Year Bunny Lake and many other stakes performers
- Harold Story - a longtime fixture who drove and trained from the 1950s through the early 1990s. Story is best remembered as the trainer and driver of 3 time Trotting Mare of the Year and Scenic Regal (1987-1989) who earned over a million dollars for Story. Saratoga has named a Stakes series for younger trotters in Story's honor.
Saratoga Gaming and Raceway became the first gaming facility to open in New York State when it opened the doors to its newly renovated racino on January 28, 2004. The racino has over 1,300 video gaming machines, two eateries, three full-service bars, a food court, a gift shop, and a variety of guest services in the space which used to house the grandstand. The gaming floor was 55,000 square feet (5,100 m2) when opened.
The gaming floor at the racino expanded in 2007, adding more machines, a nightclub called Vapor and a buffet restaurant to the services offered.
The addition of the video gaming machines has revitalized the racing at Saratoga Raceway by providing millions of dollars in additional funds for purses.