Dave O'Rourke

Belmont Stakes Tickets On Sale Feb. 10

Tickets for the 2022 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will go on sale Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster.com. Capacity for the June 11 Belmont Stakes card will be 50,000 fans. Fewer general admission tickets will be available for the festival following the construction of the UBS Arena, which reduced the size of the Belmont Park backyard. The capacity of Belmont Park is expected to expand in future years following the completion of a significant capital improvement project that will provide spectator access to the infield. In January, NYRA received...

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Master of Excuses or Victim of Vendetta? Caustic Baffert/NYRA Hearing Closes

Bob Baffert's five-day hearing on "detrimental conduct" charges levied by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) closed Friday with NYRA's attorney arguing that the Hall-of-Fame trainer has trashed the sport with such an unprecedented litany of medication violations that NYRA needs to be allowed to punish him, while Baffert's lawyer countered that the real extraordinary aspect of the case involves vendetta-based accusations that could result in draconian sanctions NYRA has never before attempted to impose upon any other trainer. "Bob Baffert is not a cheater," the trainer's attorney, W. Craig...

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Aqueduct to Re-Open to Fans Nov. 11

Aqueduct Racetrack will re-open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 11, opening day of the 2021 fall meet. Originally closed to fans during the height of the COVID-19 emergency in March of 2020, Aqueduct then became the site of a New York State mass vaccination center in January 2021. The vaccination center, which has distributed more than 300,000 COVID-19 inoculations to date, was a critical piece in the New York State led effort to quickly and efficiently vaccinate New Yorkers. The size and scope of the center, which occupied the...

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Live Racing at Belmont Park Extended Through Nov. 7

The Belmont fall meet, originally scheduled to conclude Oct. 31, will be extended to include three additional dates from Friday, Nov. 5 through Sunday, Nov. 7, it was announced Saturday. These dates were originally scheduled to be run at Aqueduct Racetrack as opening weekend of the Aqueduct fall meet. New York State is continuing to operate a COVID-19 mass vaccination site throughout the first floor of Aqueduct. As a result, the facility remains closed to the public. "NYRA is committed to supporting the ongoing effort to vaccinate New York, and...

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With Five Days Left In Meet, Saratoga Sets New Handle Record

At the completion of Wednesday's card, all-sources handle for the Saratoga meet stood at $709,437,410, which was enough to set an all-time handle mark for the historic race meet. After Wednesday, there were still five days left to the meet, which means the final handle number will shatter all records. The previous handle record was set in 2019, when $705,343,949 was wagered. With fans not allowed on-track last year due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2020 handle came in at $702.5 million. "The record-breaking handle numbers reflect the quality of racing...

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Spirited Debate On HISA Highlights Saratoga Conference

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY-To hear some, the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) is badly needed legislation that will right the ship for an industry that has gone badly off course when it comes to issues of horse safety, integrity and illegal drugs. To others, it is another example of big government wading into a sport where it doesn't belong, which will ultimately cause horse racing a lot more problems than it solves. There was little middle ground Monday as the HISA issue dominated day one of the Racing and...

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NYRA to Honor Johnstone

The New York Racing Association will honor the late horseman when it presents the Bruce Johnstone Best Turned Out Horse Award to the groom of the horse deemed by NYRA racing officials to be best presented in the paddock ahead of the GI Longines Test at Saratoga Aug. 7. The winning groom will receive a $150 gift card. Johnstone, who passed last February, transitioned from a successful career as a trainer to management at NYRA, where he spent the last 13 years of his career as Manager of Racing Operations....

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Jockey Club Round Table To Be Held Aug. 15

Edited Press Release The 69th Annual The Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing will be held virtually for the second consecutive year Sunday, Aug. 15, at 10 a.m. ET. It will be streamed on The Jockey Club's website at jockeyclub.com on and will also air be aired on NYRA's YouTube channel, the FOX Sports app, and Racetrack Television Network's respective platforms. The Jockey Club Chairman Stuart S. Janney III will preside over the conference. Kristin Werner, senior counsel for The Jockey Club and administrator of The...

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Normalcy Returns as Saratoga Meet Opens

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Once again, Saratoga opens its world-renowned race meet with the question: How many? During the COVID-19 summer of 2020, the issue was whether there might be some loosening on the ban on spectators during the 40-day season. That never happened, though a limited number of owners were allowed to see their horses run, and some of the world's best Thoroughbreds played to a oh-so quiet empty house at America's oldest race track. With restrictions completely lifted in New York State in time for the 153rd season,...

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Saratoga Merchants Look Forward to Return of Fans

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY--Precisely 52 weeks ago, King's Tavern co-owner Jason Fitch valiantly tried to be at least a little bit positive about the prospect of a racing season without spectators across Union Avenue at Saratoga Race Course. Closed for three months by the COVID-19 lockdown, King's had reopened in mid-June at the partial-capacity limits of the time. While just being able to operate was better than nothing for Fitch and his brothers and partners, Adam and Patrick, he acknowledged it was going to be a difficult summer without the thousands...

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NYRA Gains Approval in First Step to Add Tunnel at Belmont

The project that will ultimately lead to the construction of a tunnel to the Belmont Park infield and possibly the installation of an artificial surface at the track gained approval from the New York Racing Franchise Oversight Board Wednesday, according to the Daily Racing Form. The board approved the construction of a retaining wall on the backstretch, which would need to precede the tunnel's construction. Beginning from a planned parking lot on Belmont's backstretch, the tunnel would lead to the track's infield, at approximately the location of the three-quarters pole....

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Big A Already Given Over 180K COVID Vaccines

With live racing transitioning from New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) 's Aqueduct Racetrack to Belmont Park for the start of the spring/summer meet Apr. 22, Aqueduct will continue to serve as mass COVID-19 vaccination center. The New York State vaccination distribution center opened Jan. 18 and has provided more than 180,000 doses. Operating seven days a week, the Aqueduct site is now providing as many as 4,000 doses per day. "This facility has vaccinated more than 180,000 individuals since January thanks to the teamwork displayed by employees from the...

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