Saratoga Race Track History



The first races began in 1864 at Saratoga Race Course. William R. Travers and John Hunter, Were the two gentlemen behind the building of Saratoga Race Course in 1864, they where both, Men prestige and position, and that were very important to getting racing accepted at the time. A meeting was conducted and decided to build a racetrack across the street from Horse Haven. The inaugural meeting at Saratoga was short and sweet. The Travers Stakes was the highlight of the meeting being named, for one of the track's founders and its first president. That Travers and Hunter co-owned the first winner, a colt named Kentucky, of the race named for Travers is not as unusual as it might first seem. In the 1800s, the men who built racetracks were often the ones who bred and owned many of the best horses at these meetings. They built tracks to showcase their horses more than to make money.

Due to war and restrictions on travel, in the 1943, 1944 and 1945 Saratoga meetings were conducted at Belmont Park.

Travers was a prominent businessman in New York City most of his life and for many years bred and owned some of the period's better horses. In later years, he broke up his partnership with Hunter and no longer was involved in breeding and owning horses. Travers died later on at the age of 68.

In the mid-1950s, legislators in New York joined with racing officials in determining that something needed to be done to maintain New York's historic place at the zenith of Thoroughbred racing.


A breath taking view of Saratoga Race Track

Their answer was one association conducting all racing on a non-profit basis. Thus, the Greater New York Association (GNYA) was formed. It later changed its name to the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

One by one, shareholders of the four tracks racing in New York sold out to the GNYA. Saratoga accepted $102 per share, Jamaica accepted $325 a share, Belmont accepted $91 per share and finally Aqueduct accepted $183 per share on September 7, 1955. The GNYA was officially in business.

In 1963, Belmont Park had been razed for a new grandstand. It reopened in 1968, but no one apparently saw the need to refer to "old" Belmont or "new" Belmont.

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