Saratoga Springs, New York, is the center of the universe for American horse racing for a couple of months each year.
Located just a couple of hours from New York City, Saratoga Springs used to be, and still is, a fashionable getaway for the East coast wealthy. They come to enjoy the mineral water and Spa treatments, the fine dining and of course some of the best horse racing in the world.
The Saratoga Race Course is part of the New York racing circuit, along with Belmont Park and Aqueduct. There is no overlap between the racing calendar of these tracks and the New York horse racing crowd just moves from one to the other depending on the season.
Saratoga holds a relatively short season each year between July and September with 40 race days. Each day is a great one however with a Stakes race every day and some of the best horses of the country all travelling to upstate New York for the Saratoga season.
The race track is a great place to go with a family and the atmosphere is unlike any other racetracks. There is a feel of community and pastoral fun that can be enjoyed by the whole family not only the horse racing betting public.
Entrance to the track starts at $5 but can go up to hundreds if you want to reserve one of the boxes in the Grandstand. Seats in the stands go fast so if you plan on visiting the track on a weekend and especially the main racing days, you should book your seats well in advance.
If you are interested in betting on Saratoga races but can't make the trip to upstate New York, you can check out our list of US Betting Sites and participate in the action online.
Saratoga Race Course History
The Saratoga Race Course is one of the oldest sporting venues in America and one of the most famous, in the same league as Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.
The Race course was opened for thoroughbred racing in 1863 and has held races almost every year ever since.
The Saratoga Race Course for thoroughbred replaced the old standardbred (trotting course) but a new Saratoga Harness track was opened in the 1940s and now Saratoga Springs hosts both Thoroughbred racing in the summer and Standardbred racing all year long.
The Saratoga region is of course home to many of the horse racing farms of the New York circuit who can enjoy top of the line horse training facilities. Many horses who travel to New York City to race at Aqueduct or Belmont Park actually live and train in Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Race Course track configuration
There are three separate race tracks at Saratoga:
- A dirt track of 1 mile and one eight
- A turf track of 1 mile
- An inner turf track of 7 furlongs
This three tracks configuration is the standard in New York. Both Aqueduct and Belmont Park also have the three separate tracks.
Saratoga race track bias
A track bias is the tendency of a racetrack to give an advantage to some horses, based on their style or position on the track. A racetrack could for instance give an advantage to horses who have a specific racing style (on the lead or coming from behind). The racetrack could also favour somewhat horses who run on the inside or outside part of the track.
For example, a track could give an advantage to horses who start with inside post positions (position 1 to 3). The reason for that bias could be that the turns are pretty tight and therefore racing on the outside means more centrifugal force. (Inner turf racetracks are usually this way)
The track could also be better on the inside (or outside) regardless of turns. Maybe the track is sloped a little bit meaning that moisture tends to accumulate on the inside. In that case the outside part of the track is probably drier and harder which allows horses to run slightly faster on it.
In the case of the Saratoga race track, there is no strong bias.
The racecourse plays pretty fair at all distances but statistically, there is a little advantage to some styles on some distances:
On dirt sprints, slight advantage to horses who have early speed and can grab the lead early or stay close to it. Post positions in the middle or outside have a little advantage.
On dirt route races, horses who can stay close to the lead are faring better. A horse with some early speed is generally having a better race, it is hard to come from way behind. Being on the inside track is an advantage, because of ground saving around two turns.
On turf sprints, there is advantage of staying close to the lead, it is hard to come from behind by many lengths. The outside part of the track is a bit better.
Turf routes are pretty open, no strong track bias to report
Serious horse racing bettors should follow the race results and try to see if the track bias is evolving. It might be affected by weather or the number of races run recently on the track. You can use the results charts or services like Brisnet or Equibase to follow the track bias.
For more information about track bias and its use in finding winners, please read our.
Saratoga race track best trainers
Saratoga is the place to be in the summer and therefore all the best trainers in the USA bring their best horses to compete at The Spa. Many horses will travel from Europe as well, especially for turf races and the longer distance racing.
Some trainers have a higher success rate than most and these are the ones to keep an eye out for at the Saratoga Race Course.
On the Dirt track:
- Todd A. Pletcher (27% win rate)
- Chad C. Brown (25% win rate)
- Kiaran P. McLaughlin (19% win rate)
- Rudy R. Rodriguez (18% win rate)
- Steven M. Asmussen (17% win rate)
- On the Turf track:
- Linda Rice (32% win rate)
- Chad C. Brown (25% win rate)
- Todd A. Pletcher (20% win rate)
Saratoga race track best Jockeys
As with any race track, it might take a while for jockeys to get used to the track profile and bias. New York based jockeys might have an advantage in that respect.
Most importantly, because many horses travel from other parts of the USA to compete in the Saratoga meet, the best horses are often entrusted to well known jockeys by trainers from other states who might not have personal relationships or know the local jockeys.
In any case, a few jockeys were really above the rest at Saratoga Race Course in 2017. They are likely going to be deadly once again so here are the main jockeys to pay attention to.
On the Dirt Track:
- John R. Velazquez (34% win rate)
- Jose L. Ortiz (18% win rate)
- Irad Ortij Jr. (19% win rate)
- Luis Saez (16% win rate)
- Javier Castellano (15% win rate)
- Kendrick Carmouche (15% win rate)
On the Turf Track:
- Jose L. Ortiz (21% win rate)
- John R. Velazquez (19% win rate)
- Irad Ortij Jr. (18% win rate)
- Jose Lezcano (18% win rate)
Saratoga racing season
The Saratoga racecourse holds great races every day between July and the start of September each year.
Traditionally, Tuesdays are off days but you can enjoy the best horse racing the other 6 days of the week with at least one Stakes race every single day.
18 Grade 1 races are organized at the Saratoga Race Course every year including three races with more than a Million dollar in purse: the Travers, the Whitney and the Sword Dancer.
The racetrack holds sprint races and route races, including multiple at classic distances but also a few distances that are uncommon in America. There is even a steeplechase race which is very uncommon in the USA despite its popularity elsewhere, in the UK and France especially.
GRADE 1 STAKES at Saratoga Racecourse
- Coaching Club American Oaks
- A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Steeplechase)
- Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
- Longines Test
- Whitney (BC)
- Fourstardave Handicap (BC)
- New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase
- H. Allen Jerkens Memorial
- Ketel One Ballerina (BC)
- Personal Ensign
- Runhappy Travers
- Sword Dancer (BC)
- Runhappy Hopeful
GRADE 2 STAKES at Saratoga Racecourse
- Honorable Miss Handicap
- Bowling Green
- Jim Dandy
- National Museum of Racing Hall Of Fame
- Saratoga Special
- Lake Placid
- Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa
- Glens Falls
- Bernard Baruch Handicap
GRADE 3 STAKES at Saratoga Racecourse
- Quick Call
- Forbidden Apple
- Lake George
- Fasig-Tipton Waya
- With Anticipation
National Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga
True horse racing fans should not miss the opportunity to visit the museum and hall of fame, located just a few blocks from the entrance of the racecourse.
The museum has both permanent and temporary expositions that trace the history of racing in the USA and of course information about the most important figures in American Horse Racing history.
The museum displays art and racing memorabilia, so this is a must see for anyone with interest in the world of horse racing.
Saratoga Race Course address and website
- 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866