• Saratoga Business Report
Friday, 18 June 2021 16:40

100% Capacity: Saratoga Race Course Opens July 15 - NYRA Hosts Job Fair Featured

Written by Thomas Dimopoulos | Saratoga TODAY
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Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Race Course will open all sections at 100 percent capacity, the New York Racing Association announced June 16. The update was made one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the immediate removal of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions for nearly all activities as the benchmark was met of 70 percent of adult New Yorkers receiving at least one shot of the vaccine.

At the racecourse, the lifting of all COVID-19 protocols includes the requirement for fans to provide vaccination status, and applies to all hospitality areas and venues within the facility, including the popular Saratoga backyard, 1863 Club and The Stretch. Season admission passes, which provide access to the backyard, will be available for purchase and use without the prior requirement that fans provide proof of vaccination status.

The overall capacity at Saratoga Race Course is approximately 50,000. Non-vaccinated individuals will be required to wear a facial covering during their day at Saratoga Race Course, in accordance with CDC guidance.

“We’ve remained operational throughout the pandemic. After a 54-day suspension of racing at the height of the pandemic downstate, we were able to resume live racing at Belmont Park on June 3, 2020 without spectators in attendance, ran the entirety of the Saratoga race meet in 2020 without spectators in attendance – but uninterrupted, without any cases of COVID-19 on the backstretch, among employees or vendors,” said Patrick McKenna, NYRA’s director of communications.

“Being able to welcome fans back to Belmont on May 3, for the first time in 552 days at Belmont, was exciting and in some ways emotional – because of what everyone has been through.  Thankfully now, we are turning the page on the pandemic with the rise of vaccinations, with the easing of restrictions that recognizes the incredibly powerful protections provided by these vaccinations,” McKenna said. 

“On July 15, there will be a very special moment when we open those gates and the crowd comes through at Saratoga. We’re really looking forward to what should be a spectacular summer of thoroughbred racing here.”

The New York Racing Association hosted a job fair last weekend and aims to hire about 2,350 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers for the 2021 Saratoga Race Course summer meet. It is a hiring number NYRA expects to meet.

“We have a large percentage of seasonal employees return year-after-year – some for decades, said McKenna, who was at the racecourse for the first day of the job fair, on June 11. 

“We went on sale with tickets (last week) and saw an unprecedented response in terms of tickets sold. The enthusiasm and the energy we’re seeing that is running through this community is significant in ways that frankly we’ve not seen before, so we’re optimistic that will carry over in the hiring.” 

NYRA was fully staffed for last week’s Belmont Stakes where 11,000 fans were in attendance, and the hiring process downstate went smoothly, he added. 

“Saratoga is a wonderful place for seasonal employment, and we remain optimistic we will see the same level of hiring we’ve been accustomed to. These are good-paying jobs for young people and for those who may be looking for seasonal work and it’s an incredibly exciting and dynamic place to work,” McKenna said. 

The number of employees sought this summer is similar to the number generally hired at the racecourse in pre-pandemic times, he added. 

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