Updated: April 19, 2021 06:04 PM
Created: April 19, 2021 11:27 AM
It is a sure sign of spring's slow return to the Capital Region; thoroughbreds are back and ready to train for the upcoming season at the Saratoga Race Course.
Their first laps were around the main track Monday, while the Oklahoma track undergoes renovations.
"It demonstrates we are turning the page on winter. This year it feels like we are turning the page on the pandemic at the same time," said Patrick McKenna, communications director for NYRA.
With the governor giving the go-ahead for racetracks to have a 20% spectator capacity, the mood is joyous.
"This year it certainly feels like the wind is at our back. The governor's announcement is obviously welcome news to sports fans, racing fans, and horse players across New York State," McKenna explained. "We want as many people in this historic venue as possible, safely, securely, and we're committed to working with the state."
However, eager fans will need to wait a little longer to see what the racing season will look like, and how many fans will be let inside the gates.
"We're working through to determine what regulations and guidelines will be applicable to our venues, which are a little bit unique considering we have indoor seating, outdoor seating, restaurant areas, general admission, so we are working through those questions as quickly as we possibly can," McKenna said.
Saratoga fans will be looking to the upcoming Belmont season as a guide.
"We are looking forward to welcoming fans back to Belmont Park. That gives us an opportunity to lay a strong foundation implementing whatever rules, guidelines, and restrictions remain in place," he added.
With more New Yorkers being vaccinated, NYRA is hopeful that more horse racing fans will be able to see their picks in-person this year.
Copyright 2021 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company