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Saratoga Plans to Expand Meet to 40 Days

Saratoga will add four racing dates in 2010 to bring the meet total to 40.

The Saratoga meet will expand by four days in 2010 and “for the foreseeable future,” the New York Racing Association announced Oct. 7.

The Spa, which wrapped up a successful 2009 season in early September, is adding dates as several racetracks this year have reduced their racing schedules for economic reasons.

“Going into this year’s Saratoga meet, we predicted that wagering would decline approximately 5% from last year,” NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said in a statement. “We greatly exceeded those expectations. The expansion to four racing days was a measured decision that reflects the overwhelming demand for racing that we have from horsemen in Saratoga.”

The 2010 meet will begin Friday, July 23, and conclude Labor Day, Sept. 6. NYRA officials said each racing program will feature a stakes. The NYRA board of directors must approve a recommendation to move the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) from Belmont Park to opening weekend at Saratoga.

NYRA earlier reported a decline of 1.7% in all-sources pari-mutuel during this year’s 36-day Saratoga meet. Nationally, handle in August was down 12.5%

Horsemen submitted a record 3,500 stall applications for 1,800 stalls this year. Field size, which heavily depends on the weather at Saratoga, was 8.38, up slightly from 8.13 in 2008.