Opening day of the 2017 season at Saratoga Race Course saw all-sources handle of $20,332,051, a 14.47% increase over the 2016 opening day total.
The day of racing was highlighted by a stunning performance from Hoolie Racing Stable's Dream It Is. The 2-year-old filly romped to an impressive nine-length victory in the grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes. The performance was followed up by a 1 3/4 length victory by Proctor's Ledge in the grade 3, $150,000 Lake George Stakes.
Fans on opening day experienced a series of capital improvements at the historic property, including technological enhancements which more than doubled the facility's Wi-Fi capacity; the Saratoga debut of NYRA XP, the new all-in-one Saratoga mobile app; the opening of a newly-revitalized children's play area; and the unveiling of a restored historic paddock mutuel building. Since 2013, the New York Racing Association has invested $29 million in capital improvements at Saratoga.
"Opening day at Saratoga Race Course is truly one of the most special days of the year. We are very pleased to welcome back the greatest fans in the world with new cutting-edge technology and outstanding capital improvements that will continue to enhance the guest experience," said New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay.
Through NYRA XP, fans can access a host of new services on their mobile device. Fans who download NYRA XP will be able to learn about upcoming events, purchase and scan tickets, find their seat location, pin their car location, wager through NYRA Bets, live stream races, conduct wayfinding activities, and later in the meet, order food from on-track concessions and purchase reserved parking.
The track also unveiled several enhancements to the property on opening day, most prominently the newly-renovated Saratoga Family Zone, a smoke- and alcohol-free interactive play area with an oval multi-lane running track, a miniature replica starting gate, a "selfie" photo station, spring horses, and educational panels designed to teach children about the life of a race horse.
Additionally, NYRA officials celebrated the official unveiling of the historic paddock mutuel building, which received several upgrades during the off-season, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are designed to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was built in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather.
NYRA's flagship broadcast show "Saratoga Live," presented by Claiborne Farm with supporting sponsorship from Gallery Racing and Team Runhappy, returned for its second season. The program will be broadcast to an expanded audience of 75 million households nearly every day of the meet from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Prime Ticket, FOX Sports San Diego, and FOX Sports Ohio, MSG+, and Altitude Sports.
This summer's broadcast will feature veteran horse racing analyst and former Major League Baseball All-Star Paul Lo Duca, in addition to the talented "Saratoga Live" broadcast team that includes host Greg Wolf, handicapper Andy Serling, analyst Gabby Gaudet, paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale, and trainer Tom Amoss.
Opening weekend will continue with the meet's first grade 1 event, the Diana Stakes July 22. The action continues Sunday with the grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
Paid attendance for opening day was 32,730.