There’s nothing quite like a summer in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a small town nestled near the Adirondacks that comes alive each July as Thoroughbred racing returns to Saratoga Race Course. This year’s meet kicks off July 11, attracting many of the best horses, trainers, and jockeys, as well as avid fans and bettors, from across the country.
Read on for 10 must-know facts about this year’s Saratoga meet.
1. Saratoga Race Course first opened in 1863, making it one of the oldest major sporting venues in the country.
2. Fourstardave, “The Sultan of Saratoga,” won a race at the meet every year from 1987 (age 2) to 1994 (age 9). He now has a Grade 1 race at the track named after him as well as a sports bar.
3. This year’s meet will last more than seven weeks, longer than any Saratoga meet in recent history. The meet will open July 11 and close Sept. 2, but will only race five days a week to keep its customary 40-day meet intact.
4. A total of $20.85 million will be won in Saratoga’s 76 stakes races this year. Sixteen races are worth more than $500,000 each.
5. The 2019 meet will feature five Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races: the Whitney Stakes on Aug. 3, the Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 10, and the Ketel One Ballerina Stakes, Sword Dancer Stakes, and Personal Ensign Stakes all on Aug. 24.
6. More than a million people attended the races at Saratoga last summer. A total of 1,124,149 fans packed the track over the course of the 40-day meet, an average of 28,104 people each day.
7. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has won a race on his birthday nearly every year he’s raced at Saratoga. From 17 years when there was racing on his birthday (July 29), there’s been just once when he didn’t win.
8. There will be 18 Grade 1 (highest level) races at the track this summer, including historic stakes like the $1 million Whitney Stakes and the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers Stakes.
10. The total dollars bet on last year’s Saratoga races was an incredible $659,083,459, second only to the record $676,709,490 bet in 2017.