Track attendance eclipses one million, handle smashes record

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – By the time race fans shuffled through the turnstiles on the way out on the final day of the 2021 summer meet, it capped off the sixth straight summer (with the exception of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic prohibited fans) that more than one million fans attended the races.

"This is the summer that will long be remembered for the return of fans, their energy, and their enthusiasm," said Patrick McKenna, of the New York Racing Association. "Their support has made this a tremendously successful meet."

With the total attendance for the 40-day meet reaching 1,046,478 this summer, the daily average attendance was 26,162.

"The summer meet at Saratoga has never been stronger," McKenna added.

Even more amazing to NYRA officials was the record-smashing handle of $815.5 million. When compared to the previous high water mark of $705 million established in 2019, all purpose wagering increased by 15.6%

"It demonstrates the excellence of the Saratoga meet," McKenna adds, "It demonstrates the continued growth of the Saratoga meet and the quality of the racing year after year."

If you’re looking for the reason why fans keep coming back, search no further than track regulars Willie and Kayla Dabbs, of Albany, who have been coming to the track for years.

"The people here are great,"Willie Dabbs states, "They’re from all over the world and they talk to you even if they don’t know you. It’s like a family environment around here."

Jerry and Michelle Calcagnile, from Queens, have been coming to Saratoga Race Track for years. When they couldn’t make it last summer because of the pandemic, they say it was kind of depressing.

"It’s always better to be at the track," Jerry says, "You can play the horses, you can see the horses, and you can see the paddock. You get a better feel that way about it."