A normal 2020 Saratoga racing season is already upended. Fasig-Tipton has cancelled its select sale of yearlings, moving it to Lexington, Kentucky, and it is improbable that the Travers will be run one week before the rescheduled Kentucky Derby.

NYRA is reportedly considering a contingency plan to conduct the 2020 Saratoga meet without fans permitted in to watch and bet.  Another contingency apparently under review is to move this summer’s Saratoga races to Aqueduct or Belmont. 

Either way, the Saratoga region would experience a huge loss of income.  Restaurants, hotels/motels, private homes who rent to tourists, retailers, and others who cater to racing fans would be deprived of their main earning months of the year.

If NYRA decides to run races absent fans, the question is whether to hold the meet in Saratoga or at Aqueduct or Belmont?  Since Saratoga is a favorite with bettors, how much would it matter to them if the meet was held, for instance, at Belmont?  Also, how much of the usual on-track handle would transport to advanced deposit wagering?  As for the latter issue, there would likely be a significant loss of revenue in that Saratoga attracts lots of tourists who bet at the racetrack but do not bet online or via phone.

The best outcome, of course, is a regular Saratoga meet with fans in attendance.  However, if fans are barred, it makes a lot of sense from health and financial standpoints to hold the meet at Belmont.  That way, the moving of horses, trainers, grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, veterinarians, and others from New York City to upstate New York would be avoided, as well as expenses. Out-of-state contingents would still have to travel to New York City, but the New York City-stabled horses and attendants would be able to remain in place.

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