SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Thoroughbreds trotted onto the reconstructed Oklahoma Training Track on Wednesday, after spending the first few weeks of spring training on the main track while renovations finished up.
Christoph Clement, a trainer at the Saratoga Race Course, told NEWS10 consistency is key, and so far, the new surface on the Oklahoma is doing the job.
“The more consistent, the better the base, the better the drainage, the better it works. As you know, we’ve got the new track here, and it seems to be a great success. The next three or four months will tell us for sure,” Clement said.
Along with improved consistency from a limestone base, renovated surface layer, and modernized drainage systems, it also has improved safety features, including a rider protection system on the inner rail.
“If a horse or jockey were to go off, or go into the rail, they’re able to slide off the rail instead of go into the post,” explained Glen Kozak, Senior VP, Operations & Capital Projects for NYRA. “We’ve set up a shield on top of it.”
The track was also widened by 10 to 14 feet in most areas.
“There’s so many young horses that come in here green, and come off a farm, and this gives them a little more room on the track,” Kozak said.
The Oklahoma renovation was modeled after the work done to the main track last year. Pat McKenna, Communications Director for NYRA called this a significant investment in the future of Saratoga Race Course.
“This is an incredibly important piece of property in thoroughbred racing, not just here, but around the country,” McKenna said. “Some of the finest trainers make this their home.”
Capacity limits for outdoor venues are expanding, and McKenna says logistics are being ironed out for ticketing options and seating sections.
“What fans can look forward to is a 2021 meet that looks nothing like last year. We will absolutely have robust attendance,” McKenna said. “We’re hoping to be able to offer general admission.”
The 40 day summer meet for the Saratoga Race Course starts on July 15.