Canceling or scaling back the horse racing season in Saratoga Springs could have a detrimental effect on the region’s economy, lawmakers on Friday warned.
This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cast doubt for the first time on whether the track meet could go off as planned in July due to the coronavirus pandemic. The New York Racing Association has devised a plan that would allow for races to still be held, but without spectators in attendance.
“I am concerned about comments from the governor [the] Saratoga Race Track could be fully canceled due to COVID-19,” said Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. “I share these concerns with my bipartisan state elected colleagues who also represent portions of Saratoga County and I believe any potential decision to cancel is premature since the races do not begin for another eleven weeks.”
Saratoga Springs relies heavily on the track season for summer tourism, but the pandemic has already led to the cancellation of other summertime staples in upstate New York, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony.
"I couldn't possibly disagree more with the governor’s instinct to cancel this year’s meet at Saratoga Race Course, even without fans," said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, a Democrat. "The equine industry is a core component of New York state agriculture, the largest sector of the state's economy. Opening the rest of the economy while keeping the track closed disrupts a major economic driver and the livelihood that thousands of people rely upon."