The New York Racing Association announced May 12 the completion of a major renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course.
Horses and riders, who were welcomed to jog and gallop over the surface beginning Wednesday morning, were met with a completely reconstructed Oklahoma track featuring a limestone base, renovated surface layer, and modernized drainage systems. The training track has been widened by 10-14 feet in most areas to address the increasing population of horses training over it annually from April to October.
Additionally, to enhance safety for exercise riders and jockeys, the inner rail at Oklahoma has been replaced with a rider protection system designed by Horsemen’s Track and Equipment.
The work at The Oklahoma Training Track mirrors the work performed on the Saratoga main track in 2020. As at Oklahoma Training Track, the main track renovation involved general improvements to the base and surface of the track, as well as a complete overhaul of the drainage system and installation of a new rider safety rail.
“The renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track is an investment in the future of Saratoga Race Course that reflects NYRA’s ongoing commitment to safety,” said Glen Kozak, NYRA senior vice president for operations and capital projects. “Just like the work done to the main track last year, the Oklahoma will now recover quickly from summer storms resulting in a consistent and high-quality training surface for horses and riders.”
Serving as consultants on the Oklahoma renovation were Dr. Mick Peterson and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, which performed regular testing of the quality and composition of the new surface. As a final step before reopening, Peterson and the RSTL team inspected the surface and base utilizing ground-penetrating radar and other hi-tech equipment.
The team assembled by NYRA to contribute expertise to the renovation included GRW, the architectural and engineering firm based in Lexington with deep experience in racetrack design. Michael Depew, a soil scientist and agronomist, provided additional consulting services.
Beginning May 17 a limited number of owners licensed by the New York State Gaming Commission will be permitted in the barn area and to observe morning training at Saratoga. In order to secure access to the Saratoga property, owners must provide NYRA with proof of completed vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within three days of the request. Licensed owners who satisfy the vaccination or testing requirement must have a horse stabled at Saratoga in order to access the property.
According to current Centers for Disease Control guidance, individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days or more after receiving the second dose in a two-dose series, or 14 days or more after they have received a single-dose vaccine.
To secure barn area access, owners can obtain updated credentials by reporting to Gate 21 at Saratoga Race Course with their NYSGC license to provide NYRA security with proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test. Gate 21 will receive owners seeking barn area access Tuesday-Friday between 8 a.m. and noon.
Owners approved to enter the Oklahoma barn area will be required to practice social distancing and to wear a facial covering at all times.
The 40-day summer meet at Saratoga, featuring 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses, runs July 15-Sept. 6.