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NYRA Board of Directors highlight Belmont success and backstretch investment

Outlining the success of the 2015 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival presented by DraftKings as well as the New York Racing Association's continued investment within the backstretch areas of Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, Chief Executive Officer and President Christopher Kay delivered a far-reaching, comprehensive report at this afternoon's Reorganization Board of Directors meeting.  The meeting was open to the public and streamed live on NYRA.com.

the first time, the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival was expanded into a three day mega event, which included 17 stakes races and more than $10 million in purses.  Kicking off at Rockefeller Center on June 3 with the post-position draw for the Belmont Stakes and the announcement of NYRA's television contract extension with NBC, the Festival honored the Community Mayors on Thursday and featured a concert by O.A.R. on Friday.

On Belmont Stakes Day, guests enjoyed internationally renowned entertainment, premium hospitality and world-class racing, highlighted by American Pharoah's entry into sporting immortality as the 12th winner of the iconic Triple Crown.  Paid attendance was capped at 90,000, and issues that impacted last year's Belmont Stakes, including food and beverage, ingress and egress, and security were successfully addressed.  

Improved pedestrian flow throughout parking lots and the Long Island Rail Road, whose platform underwent $5 million in improvements, resulted from the investment and extensive planning effort.  Additionally, communication with fans and local communities was also recognized as clear, consistent and effective.

Overall, $138.4 million was wagered on Belmont Stakes Day, the second largest handle ever.  More than 22 million people also watched the historic race on NBC, making it the most-watched Saturday program of the year.

Kay also discussed other "must-see" events rapidly approaching, including the second "Stars & Stripes" Racing Festival on July 4, featuring an internationally flavored card with $4 million in purses, as well as the 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course, kicking off 30 days from today.

New to the Spa this year will be a renovated lower carousel, now offering a sports bar and tables; the Tom Durkin Replay Center, where guests can watch their favorite calls by the legendary track announcer, and the unveiling of the Saratoga "Walk of Fame" featuring memorabilia attained from the greats of our sport.

In all, the Saratoga meet will offer 69 stakes, 17 of them Grade 1's, and $18.7 million in purses. Six Grade 1 events will take place on Travers Day, August 29, while the Whitney Festival on August 8 will feature the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test. Following the Whitney will be Jockey Legends Day on August 9 and New York Showcase Day on August 28, which will feature the annual "Red Jacket" ceremony honoring Ogden "Dinny" Phipps and Marylou Whitney.

Finally, Kay detailed the extensive renovations and improvements to the dormitories at all three tracks, which began in 2013 and which will total $28.8 million by completion of the project in 2017. 

At Aqueduct, all dorms have been renovated and upgraded, including new carpeting and plumbing.

At Saratoga and in addition to the 29 cottages that have already been renovated, five will be renovated this year, six in 2016 and six in 2017. By project's end, a total of 46 cottages will have been renovated and upgraded.

These improvements reflect the New York Racing Association continued, steadfast commitment to the hardworking men and women of the backstretch, and their families," said Kay.

 
(Source:  New York Racing Association)
 

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