Spring training at Saratoga Race Course is returning to its rightful home across Union Avenue. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) today announced the completion of a major renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track, which sent spring training activities to the main track for about a month.
Horses and riders were welcomed back to jog and gallop over the surface beginning on Wednesday morning, and were met with a completely reconstructed Oklahoma track, featuring a limestone base, renovated surface layer and modernized drainage systems. The training track has been widened by 10–14 feet in most areas to address the increasing population of horses training over the Oklahoma annually from April to October.
Additionally, to enhance safety for exercise riders and jockeys, the inner rail has been replaced with a rider protection system designed by Horsemen’s Track and Equipment.
The work at the Oklahoma mirrors the work performed on the Saratoga main track in 2020. As at the Oklahoma, the main track renovation involved general improvements to the base and surface of the track, as well as a complete overhaul of the drainage system and installation of a new rider safety rail.
“The renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track is an investment in the future of Saratoga Race Course that reflects NYRA’s ongoing commitment to safety,” says Glen Kozak, NYRA’s senior vice president for operations and capital projects. “Just like the work done to the main track last year, the Oklahoma will now recover quickly from summer storms resulting in a consistent and high-quality training surface for horses and riders.”
Serving as consultants on the Oklahoma renovation were Dr. Mick Peterson and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL), which performed regular testing of the quality and composition of the new surface. As a final step before reopening, Peterson and the RSTL team inspected the surface and base utilizing ground penetrating radar and the Biomechanical Surface Tester, which replicates loads and speed of a thoroughbred’s leading forelimb at gallop.
The team assembled by NYRA to contribute expertise to the renovation
included GRW, the architectural and engineering firm based in Lexington, Kentucky, with deep experience in racetrack design. Michael Depew, a soil scientist and agronomist, provided additional consulting services.
Beginning on Monday, May 17, a limited number of owners will be permitted in the barn area and to observe morning training at Saratoga. In order to secure access to the Saratoga property, owners must provide NYRA with proof of completed vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within three days of the request. Licensed owners who satisfy the vaccination or testing requirement must have a horse stabled at Saratoga in order to access the property.
To secure barn area access, owners can obtain updated credentials by reporting to Gate 21 at Saratoga Race Course with their New York State Gaming Commission license to provide NYRA security with proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test. Gate 21 will receive owners seeking barn area access Tuesday-Friday between 8am and noon.
Owners approved to enter the Oklahoma barn area will be required to practice social distancing and wear a mask at all times.