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Spike Visits the Iconic Saratoga Race Course
On Wednesday, August 8th, I loaded up the car and took a road trip to what was certainly a bucket list destination for me (and should be for any advantage player!) – the historic Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY. The summer meet was in full swing and the card did not disappoint with two $65,000 claiming races and the QuikCall $100,000.00 stakes race. While this was a chance to watch quality horses run and place a few bets, what made the day special was the venue – a special slice of Americana that everyone should experience.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 2018
Allow me to begin with some basic information. The day I was there Saratoga had 10 live races on the card with a 1PM start for race 1. Simulcast was available to bettors during that card as well, with tracks like Thistledown, Finger Lakes, Delaware Park, Gulfstream, Indiana Grand, and Louisiana Downs in the mix. There were plenty of screens set up at convenient locations around the grandstand ($23 ticket) and general admission ($7 ticket with no guaranteed seat) area so that a patron could sweat the simulcast action. Saratoga’s grandstand and club level are mostly protected from the elements, but Saratoga is overwhelmingly an outdoor facility with easy access to the outside rail from wherever you are situated. I spoke with two veteran track workers and they reported that the day I was there was simply an average crowd – nothing like later in the summer meet when Travers Stakes day arrives. This was good for me as the food lines (anything from Italian sausages to fish and chips to grilled chicken and Cobb salads) and the betting windows were not long. Sit down dining with table service was also available.
Win/Place/Show, Exacta, Trifecta, and Superfecta wagering were in play at the track, with Pick 5 wagering on the first five races also offered. That type of action was continued as you could hit a Pick 4 on races 2-5, and a Pick 3 on races 3-5. The Pick 5, Pick 4, and Pick 3 action was repeated on races six through 10.
While in between live races, I really enjoyed walking through the grounds of this venerable race track. Clearly fun for family and friends was at the forefront of the design of the facility. It is first come, first serve, but there is a large area with picnic tables that families or groups can claim and bring their chairs and coolers in at no charge. As you can imagine, even on a day at the track that wasn’t so crowded these tables went quick. Another nice feature of the picnic area was a large projection screen that showed the races – I actually went to the picnic area from the grandstand to sweat race 4 because the screen was so large and nice. You had to have a special badge to get into the paddock area, but that didn’t matter as much as there was a fenced off track that ran through the picnic area where all horses were walked through before they hit the track. I also enjoyed going through the Saratoga Hall of Fame and learning more about the time frame of the tracks growth and development.
Last but in no way least, I cannot end this post without throwing in a handicapping story! After reading the Racing Form and listening to the locals, #2 (named Factor This) in the fourth race was simply getting no respect, no respect at all I tell ya!! (RIP Rodney Dangerfield). Consensus ranked him third, but I bet him $20 to win and he took it wire to wire, paying $94 on the $20 bet.
Saratoga Raceway is a great way for the advantage player to spend a day. It was clear that the patrons were enjoying it as well, and I would recommend attendance for anyone. I was very happy – and with a fatter wallet no less! – to strike Saratoga Springs off of my bucket list.