The local tourist industry may be getting an extra week of Saratoga horse racing this year.
We hope so.
Saratoga is a destination for horse racing lovers all over the country, and that could mean a boost to the tourist trade locally.(tncms-inline)884a37b9-5288-4c98-a925-609b24722caa(/tncms-inline)
The New York Racing Association Board approved a tentative change last week that will significantly affect the thoroughbred horse track’s schedule this summer without increasing the number of racing days.
The plans call for five days of racing each week instead of six, with Mondays and Tuesdays dark.
The track will tentatively open a week earlier on Thursday, July 11, and run through Labor Day. Last year, the track opened on Friday, July 20, and ran through Labor Day. The total number of racing days will be 40, the same as last year.
That could mean an extra week of tourists heading north to Saratoga.
More horse racing — as long as you are not actually betting on the races — is good for business.
But there is one drawback for the city of Saratoga Springs.
The proposed opening day weekend at Saratoga coincides with the Dave Matthews Band two-day run at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, making hotel rooms scarce in Saratoga for horse racing visitors. But we’re thinking that might push more hotel business to places like Glens Falls and Lake George.
While Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly told the Times-Union she is concerned about two big events overlapping, we know from experience that Saratoga has handled big summer crowds at both venues before.
And if there is a strain, we’re sure local hotels and restaurants will be glad to pick up the slack.
The new schedule may only be a one-year thing. NYRA officials said it was precipitated by the building of a new arena for the New York Islanders on the land adjacent to Belmont Park. New York’s horse racing community is based at Belmont for a spring meeting before moving to Saratoga in July.
Dropping the Monday racing should be welcome to all.
The crowds are generally light on Mondays, and the racing card tends to be of a lower quality. Without racing on Monday, many businesses that cater to the race track crowd might have an easier time scheduling their staffs.
The only negative we can think of is a bit selfish.
Some of us tend to avoid the crowds in downtown Saratoga during the meet madness, so this means one more week we will be eating out elsewhere.