Updated 08/03/2012 08:33 PM
Racing 101 at Saratoga Race Course
Horse racing has been a big part of Saratoga since the Civil War era, but to many fans, it's still a new sport. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, a new initiative at the track is helping them get into the game for the first time.>
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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -– Prior to last week, Jordan Craig had never placed a foot, let alone a bet, at Saratoga Race Course.
"There's a lot going on,” Craig said Friday. “I feel there's a lot more I could understand but my eyes are open."
Lucky for Jordan, NYRA has partnered with America's Best Racing to offer "Racing 101," an initiative designed to introduce novice fans to the "sport of kings."
"A lot of folks when they come to the track, just because of the nature of it, really aren't experts at it because they just don't have the knowledge," America’s Best Racing Executive Producer Ken Adelson said.
"It's a beautiful sport to watch and get engaged in but a lot of people see the obstacle of 'what am I doing? How do I smartly bet?' and what have you," NYRA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Rodnell Workman said. “So we thought we needed to create a platform that allowed us to educate that audience."
Featuring its own betting window, Racing 101 offers fans the chance to sit down with a professional handicapper and learn the tools of the trade. You'll get tips on everything from how to read the program, what type of bets to place and even how to size a horse up in the paddock before the race.
"So what we like to do is give them some tools and a better chance to win, see some success, with knowledge comes interest, with interest comes confidence and they enjoy the game a lot more," said Joe Kristufek, America’s Best Racing’s professional handicapper.
Perhaps more than any other track on a day-to-day basis, Saratoga's grounds are filled with amateur bettors.
That's a big part of why NYRA will make the new feature available over the course of three of the track's busiest weekends.
"We want people to learn, we want people to be educated and hopefully welcome more people into the franchise," Workman said.
"I think if other fans had this opportunity, you'd have no choice but to come back to Saratoga again,” Craig said.
The “Racing 101” tent is located near the Big Red Spring and will be open Saturday and Sunday for Whitney, Alabama and Travers Stakes Weekends.