A commitment to customer comfort and an increase in purses will greet fans when Aqueduct Racetrack opens the doors on its 45-day Fall Meet Oct. 24.
The biggest physical change at the Big A is to the Sunny Jim Room. Named for the legendary Hall of Fame trainer “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons, whose 70-year training career from 1894-1963 included managing such top horses as Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and his son, Omaha, the Sunny Jim Room harkens back to an early 1900s’ theme.
The old-time feel of the room has meshed beautifully with modern-day technology. The television walls have been enhanced with the addition of two AOB boards. A raised platform has been built to accommodate 21 handicapping desks, which presently have lamps, but can be easily converted to E-machines.
There are three living room carpeted areas in front of the platform with betting machines inside old bookie stands, between chalk boards to follow odds and results and etched glass racing scenes to bring some nostalgia back to the Big A.
In addition, the box seat area has undergone a makeover, and third-floor grandstand seating has been changed from the old wooden seats to vinyl.
Nearly 400,000 square feet of painting, more than in the past four years combined, has been accomplished, including the clubhouse entrance and window wall, which was painted from roof to ground.
The first floor grandstand will be open on all racing days, which allowed NYRA to move the video game room back to its original location. The barber shop will be open all racing days.
Major renovations were also completed in the Jockeys’ Room and in the Telebet and Internet Wagering rooms.
Earlier this month, New York Racing Association President and Chief Executive Officer Charles E. Hayward announced purse increases through the final day of Aqueduct’s Fall Meet, Dec. 30. Daily average purses are projected to rise approximately 12 percent or $43,800 from $365,000 during the corresponding meet last year, to $408,800 this year.
The lucrative purses should attract top horses, especially for the meet’s marquee race, the $300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) Nov. 24.
“Better purses attract better horses and better horses attract bettors,” Hayward said. “Aqueduct is an historic track - New York City’s track - and we look forward to it opening for the Fall Meet.”