Successful opening day at Saratoga Race Course
They're off at Saratoga! Friday was opening day at the Race Course. Along with excitement on the first day comes uncertainly surrounding NYRA, after several recent scandals. YNN's Matt Hunter has more
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- After eleven long months, horse racing is back at historic Saratoga Race Course.
"I think the whole excitement of opening day at Saratoga, the horses, how beautiful it is, the day we've got today, it's just wonderful," racing fan Gail Letourneau said.
"Top racing, top quality, all the best, now with the enhanced purses, it's making a good product even better," said racing fan Bill Regan.
There's no denying excitement is in the air, but recent woes at NYRA, the managing body of Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct racetracks, have cast somewhat of a shadow.
In May, lawmakers reached a deal to take over the troubled franchise for three years.
"We never want government involved, but I think it's the right thing to do at this time because NYRA has messed up things for 10 years," racing fan Ken Gates said.
"They needed to step in and I'm glad they did," said Richard Fenton, another racing fan.
In the weeks leading up to opening day, NYRA officials have kept a tight lip, but on Friday morning, new President and COO Ellen McClain said despite the negative press, it should be business as usual here at the Spa.
It's been a very difficult period, as you can imagine. But we have a tremendous team at NYRA. And there's nothing like adversity to focus the mind and we've had to be very focused because we did not stop running the company," McClain said.
While it's too soon to say what the future holds for NYRA and its top executives, many racing fans remain cautiously optimistic those issues off the track won't have a noticeable effect here on it.
Gates said, "Hopefully Governor Cuomo does the right thing and pulls it together with the casino and makes the quality even better."
"You can't spoil Saratoga,” John Cornell said. “It's the best meet on the planet, bar none."