Condolences to the family of Kelley D. Ferguson

August 25th, 2020

Kelley D. Ferguson,59, passed away on Thursday evening August 20th as a result of a motorcycle accident.

He was born in Schenectady, the son of the late Marshall and Marie (Kelley) Ferguson.

Kelley worked in the forestry and construction business for many years but his true passion was the standardbred horses he owned, trained and drove over the years at Saratoga Track. Kelley started working with horses with his dad Whitney and continued this through the years.

He was an avid hunter and a member of the United States Trotting Association.

He is survived by his son, sister, brother, nieces, nephew, great nieces and nephews and dear friends.  

 A celebration of Kelley’s life will be held on Saturday August 29th at 5 pm at Bond Funeral Home, Broadway & Guilderland Avenue, Schenectady, NY (COVID-19 restriction as to capacities, masks and social distancing). A visitation will be held at the funeral home from 2 to 5 pm prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the United States Trotting Association.

Security Protocol for Sale of Backstretch Horses

August 2nd, 2020

Horsemen stabled on the backstretch at Saratoga who have horses to sell must contact Administrative Manager Charles Astarita, Backstretch Security, to coordinate access into the backstretch for the horse buyer. These visits must be scheduled in advance to ensure compliance with our COVID-19 policy on file with New York State.
Please make contact with Manager Astarita in advance (a minimum twenty-four hours) through the Stable Gate Guard to ensure he can determine a day and time where there is adequate staff to provide an escort for the horse buyer. Horse buyers cannot just show up and expect to be admitted.
The buyer must be COVID-19 screened at the Stable Gate by Security and then escorted by Security to the barn area where they are viewing/picking up the horse. The buyer must remain inside their vehicle. If they exit the vehicle for any reason they must maintain social distancing and wear a face mask when outside the vehicle. Buyers will not be allowed inside barns nor are they able to roam about freely. These visits must be as abbreviated as
possible due to the required escort.

Owner Protocols for Live Racing and Backstretch Access

July 18th, 2020

In accordance with the Addendum to the Interim Guidance for Racing Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency issued by the New York State Gaming Commission, Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. is implementing the following Owner Protocols to allow limited attendance at live racing events or training sessions beginning Wednesday, July 22, 2020. For the purposes of this section, the term owner shall mean a Commission-licensed owner.
Attendance Limitation
 Owners with a horse entered to race may only attend on the date of the race.
 No other spectators shall be admitted, including guests of owners and children.
 No owner shall be allowed in the stable or backstretch areas of a racetrack except in conformance with guidance regarding attendance during training hours.
Determination of Ownership
 Once the overnight list is published, the owners of horses entered may email [email protected] to make a reservation to attend live racing. The email must include the owner’s name as it appears on the Commission license, license number and phone number. Alternatively, they may call 518-581-5747. The following deadlines apply:
Race Day Reservations Close
Monday Friday at 1 p.m.
Tuesday Monday at 1 p.m.
Wednesday Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Qualifiers Monday at 1 p.m.
Please do not call the Race Office for reservations.
 The license status of the owner shall be confirmed and a roster of all owners authorized to be admitted each day will be issued.
Admissions Protocol
 To attend any live racing event, reservations to attend must be made in
 No same day admissions shall be accepted.
 If reservations are made via electronic mail, an email confirmation will be sent to the owner.
 Owners will park in the South Casino Parking lot (lot closest to the covered entrance to the Lower Club).
 Each owner shall present to the check point in the Lower Club. Positive
identification for each owner (valid NYS Gaming Commission Owner’s License) must be presented and confirmed.
Health Testing Protocol
 Each owner shall receive a non-invasive temperature test and be asked
general COVID-19-related health questions.
 Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4°F or above will be required to have a secondary temporal temperature screening. Anyone with two confirmed temperature readings of 100.4°F or above shall not be permitted entry.
 No owner who fails to pass the COVID-19-related health questions may be
permitted entry.
 Following passing of the health protocol, each owner shall receive a color coded wrist band that is identifiable for that particular race day.
General Attendance Requirements
 Owners shall always wear a face mask covering both the nostrils and the
mouth while on the grounds of a racetrack.
 Appropriate social distancing shall be practiced.
 The racetrack shall provide touchless hand sanitizer dispensers throughout any area open for owners.
 Neither the grandstand nor any box area shall be used for seating of any kind.
 Owners may sit in outdoor seating areas and must practice physical distancing of six feet between groups.
 While owners may observe races from the apron area in the front of a
grandstand, they shall maintain physical distancing from others.
Paddock Access
 Until further notice, owners may not enter the Paddock.
Winner’s Circle
 Owners of the winning horse will be allowed in the Winner’s Circle, provided they maintain a proper social distancing from others.
 To ensure the safety of everyone in the Winner’s Circle, one person from the Paddock (either the trainer or designated groom) will ride to the winner’s circle to hold the horse for the photo.
Limited to Owners
 Only owners shall be admitted to the backstretch during training hours. No guests shall be permitted.
Training hours are as follows and are subject to change according to the live racing schedule:
Monday and Tuesday 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Thursday through Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Access Restrictions
 To access any backstretch location, an owner must pre-register at least 48
hours prior to his/her first planned visit to the backstretch so his/her name
can be added to the Master List. Owners may pre-register by emailing
[email protected] or by calling 518-581-5747 Monday through
Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The following information will be needed for inclusion on the Master List: name as it appears on Commission license, license number, date of birth, gender, mailing address, phone number and email address.
 Ownersshall be required to display their Commission license at the Stable
Gate to gain entrance.
 Driver’s licenses will be scanned for contact tracing purposes.
Health Testing Protocol
 Each owner shall receive a non-invasive temperature test and be asked
general COVID-19-related health questions.
 Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4°F or above will be required to have a secondary temporal temperature screening. Anyone with two confirmed temperature readings of 100.4°F or above shall not be permitted entry.
 Owners will be required to complete a COVID-19-related health
questionnaire each time they enter the Stable Gate.
Location Limitations
 Owners with horses stabled on the grounds of a racetrack will otherwise be permitted to watch their horses during training.
 Neither any grandstand nor any box area shall be used for seating of any kind during attendance at training sessions.
General Attendance Requirements
 All owners shall wear a face mask covering both the nostrils and the mouth while on the grounds of a racetrack.
 Appropriate social distancing shall be practiced.
 Owners shall not be permitted to watch races from a barn area.
 Any owner found violating restrictions is subject to racetrack and Commission disciplinary proceedings.
 Any owner accessing the backstretch should be mindful of restricting
engagement with all other personnel unless proper social distancing can be

SCH & SHHA Meet to Discuss Owners Ability to View Racing

July 16th, 2020

Tomorrow, two members of the SHHA Board of Directors, Thomas McTygue and Jeffrey Cantine will meet with Saratoga Casino Hotel’s Racing Director John Matarazzo to discuss the current NYS COVID -19  protocol regarding owners inability to view their horses racing at the facility.  They will create guidelines pertaining to owners that will hopefully be accepted by NYS.  Please remember this takes time, so your  continued patience is greatly appreciated

Live Racing Dates for July 15th-Sept 2

July 10th, 2020

Month/Day Post

July 15 12:00PM

July 20 & 21 12:00PM

July 22 7:15 PM NYSS Card

July 27 &28 12:00PM

July 29 7:15PM

Aug 3 &4 12:00PM

Aug 5 7:15PM

Aug 10 12:00PM NYSS Card

Aug 11 12:00PM

Aug 12 7:15PM NYSS Card

Aug 17 &18 12:00PM

Aug 19 7:15PM

Aug 24 & 25 12:00PM

Aug 26 7:15PM NYSS Card

Aug 31 12:00PM

Sept 1 12:00PM

Sept 2 7:15PM NYSS Card

SHHA Board of Directors Nomination Forms Available

June 30th, 2020

The following SHHA’s directors terms expire 12/31/20:
Brian Cross
Thomas McTygue
Mark Whitcroft

Want to be on the ballot?
If you are a current SHHA member- owner, trainer or driver interested in serving on the Saratoga Harness Horsepersons’ Board of Directors, please request a nomination form by email [email protected] or call 518-775-0975.
You must receive signatures from 25 current SHHA members, please attempt to obtain more than 25 signatures.

Forms must be postmarked no later than Sept. 1, 2020
Mailing address: SHHA PO Box 171 Saratoga Springs NY 12866

Revised Paddock Stall Assignments 6/24/20

June 24th, 2020

***Revised 6/24/2020***


For Qualifiers and Pari-mutuel Races

1, 4, 7, 10 and 1311-1
 99 stall (same row as race 2)
2, 5, 8, 11 and 1412-1
 99 stall (same row as race 2)
3, 6, 9, 12 and 1517-2
 99 stall (same row as race 2)

Race Staging Revised

June 24th, 2020

For Qualifiers and Pari-mutuel Races
1, 4, 7, 10 and 13


1 1 – 1
2 1 – 3
3 1 – 5
4 1 – 7
5 3 – 2
6 3 – 4
7 3 – 6
8 3 – 8
9 9 stall (same row as race 3)


2, 5, 8, 11 and 14

1 2 – 1
2 2 – 3
3 2 – 5
4 2 – 7
5 4 – 2
6 4 – 4
7 4 – 6
8 4 – 8
9 9 stall (same row as race 2)


3, 6, 9, 12 and 15

1 5 – 1
2 5 – 3
3 5 – 5
4 5 – 7
5 7 – 2
6 7 – 4
7 7 – 6
8 7 – 8
9 9 stall (same row as race 3)

Race Staging Procedures

June 20th, 2020

Only three races will be in the Paddock at a time.  Please refer to the Lasix/Paddock Schedule for pari-mutuel Paddock times.  Please also review the Paddock Stall Assignments.

For pari-mutuel races, horses, trainers and grooms will be in the Paddock for approximately 30 to 45 minutes prior to the post time of their race. They may not come in earlier and must leave immediately after the race.

For qualifiers, horses, trainers and grooms will be in the Paddock for approximately15 minutes prior to the post time of their race and again, they may not come in earlier and must leave immediately after the race.

All warmups will be on the jog track before coming to the Paddock.

When your race is call up, gather all equipment and stage for departure.  If a horse is not one of the horses selected for testing, and the trainer is stabled on the grounds, the horse should be removed from the Paddock immediately after the race and returned to its barn.

If the horse is shipped in, and is not selected for testing the trainer/groom may bathe the horse in one of the Post 9 stalls(use every other stall)  If the Post 9 stall is not available, the trainer/groom should proceed immediately to one of the outside wash stalls in Barn C (previously the pool barn) to bathe the horse.  Shipped in horses racing in the last three races may return to their stall in Paddock to bathed.

If the horse is selected for testing NYSGC personnel will direct the trainer/groom to one of the designated bath stalls.

Bath Stalls for Horses Being Tested:

Races 1,4,7,10,13:  Use Race 6, stall #1 and #3

Races 2,5,8,11,14:  Use Race 6, stall #5 and #7

Races 3,6,9,12,15:  Use Race 8, stall #1 and #3

If more than two horses are selected for testing use Race 8, stall #5 and #7

PADDOCK STALL ASSIGNMENTS for Qualifiers and Pari-mutuel Races

RACES                            POST POSITION                   STALL                         

1, 4, 7, 10 & 13                1                                         1-1

                                          2                                         1-3

                                          3                                         1-5

                                         4                                         1-7      

                                          5                                         3-2

                                          6                                         3-4

                                          7                                          3-6

                                          8                                          3-8

                                          9                              9 stall same row as race 3


  2, 5, 7, 11 & 14             1                                           2-1

                                         2                                           2-3

                                         3                                           2-5

                                         4                                           2-7

                                         5                                           4-2

                                       6                                           4-4

                                        7                                           4-6

                                         8                                           4-8

                                         9                              9 stall same row as race 2


3, 6, 9, 12 & 15                 1                                              5-1

                                           2                                              5-3

                                           3                                              5-5

                                            4                                              5-7

                                            5                                              7-2

                                            6                                              7-4

                                            7                                              7-6

                                            8                                              7-8

                                           9                              9 stall same row as race 3

FAQ for Reopening

June 20th, 2020

Some common questions have been raised to Board members who have done their best to respond to them. We thought it may be helpful
to summarize some of those concerns and provide detail to address
them which hopefully will bring some clarity to these recently addressed topics:
1) What went into the reasoning for the anticipated purse levels?
In April we did an initial analysis of the Purse account beginning with the balance on hand and then made certain estimates based
on current events of what we thought we could reasonably expect for
a reopening date for the racing and for the casino and at what phase in levels over the upcoming months. Those estimates are updated as new
information presents itself but the important factors and assumptions
to understand were:
The purse account is funded from two sources, the Video Lottery Terminal games (VLT’s) and our commission from betting handle both live
at our track and simulcast. The commissions vary by track and include
expenses that have to be paid related to the broadcast signals. VLT makes up approx. 87%, Handle 13% of the total. For purposes of the projections
we focused on the VLT revenue since it is the majority and it is basically the
total that falls to the bottom line for the purses.
Of the VLT revenue approx. 70% is generated by Saratoga Casino and 30% by Rivers Casino as they are contractually obligated to contribute to our
account as part of their casino licensing deal.
The timing of when we have access to the revenue is generally the next month for Saratoga and after each 3 month quarter for Rivers so there
is a time lag to factor in.
Normally the amount and timing of those cash flows is consistent but with the current events we have to use our best estimate as to how much
and when we will get the money before it can be committed as expendable
on a Condition Sheet.
Based on our conversations with Casino management we are currently hopeful for the casino opening on July 1 but only at a 50% maximum
capacity. There are so many subjective factors to consider related to the
financial results when the casino reopens and we will have to accept the
actual impact to our purse account as the time comes but for discussion and initial planning purposes we considered the following hypothetical results:
the first month revenue will be at 40% of the former normal monthly revenue. We expanded that to an estimated 70% revenue for the second
month and almost back to normal by the end of September, say 90%. So based on these assumptions we would basically lose a month of revenue over the next 7 months. This is on top of the half month we will use up by starting in mid-June ahead of the casino earning any new money so
that’s 1.5 months of revenue gone over the next 7 months or an approximate 21.5 % cut through the end of the season. Since we also lost a few months of racing handle and will likely take a hit in August, our largest VLT month, since out of town visitors will be down for the flat track, a blended 25% hit appears to be a reasonable expectation over the rest of the year.
2) Why is our current purse decrease even greater than the above explanation?
Besides the 25% mentioned above, for the first few months we have to factor in the timing of when the money will be available for distribution. We won’t have any of the Saratoga money until August at the earliest and that will be a reduced amount. The Rivers money owed to us from the first
quarter is still outstanding since it normally would have been received from them in late April and they were shut down similar to Saratoga. So that 30% contribution is not available to be spent yet and because it is not in our control it isn’t being considered currently available for distribution. If we did and increased our purses now and there was a delay we would run the risk of running out offunds in August.
3) Why do we appear to be racing for less or at a larger discount than other tracks?
It’s difficult to answer this definitively since each track has different schedules, number of race days, number of races per day, purse account balances, ownership etc. Some tracks hadn’t opened yet
before this all hit and should have had more reserves in their purse account at that particular time. We had already begun drawing at our full normal rate and actually raced for some period after the casino was closed therefore drawing on our purse account with no replenishment coming in. Some don’t race for as long as we do so they don’t have as long of a period to try to stretch their funds over before their season ends. Some tracks have owners who are willing to negotiate “loans” to the purse account that will eventually have to be repaid. We don’t borrow funds to support operating
expenses. Our approach is to budget for the losses and the cash flow timing issues by starting at conservative levels based on available cash and increase as the year goes on and revenue becomes more definite and in our possession.
4) When can we expect the purses to increase?
The Race Secretary has the discretion over this but it can be impacted by the receipt of our installment due from Rivers. The timing of this is something we will monitor but unfortunately is an unknown at this point. Also critical is the opening of our casino, at what level of activity it is allowed to operate and how successful that reopening is. As the Saratoga revenue increases so will our purses since our access to those funds is a shorter normal lag period and more controllable than the Rivers money. We also plan on expanding in mid-July to three race days a week at 13 races per day which will increase the gross amount of purse money being paid out.
In closing, in conversations with the Race Office although we are at an initial significant purse reduction the goal is to be back to as close as normal by the end of the year and start of 2021. Therefore our projected total loss will be blended in over the season. As purse money is earned and
received it is considered by the Race Secretary for distribution. There is no incentive on anyone’s part to stockpile purse money and the efficient management of that account has been very consistent. We will of course monitor the activity and raise any questions that may come up along
the way. Any setbacks in the general COVID situation and related shutdowns will obviously have a negative impact on the plans. If you should have any questions please ask a SHHA representative. If they can’t immediately answer your questions, someone will get back to you. This will hopefully
avoid misunderstandings and the potential spread of inaccurate information.
Thank you, Joe Battaglia-Treasurer/Secretary-SHHA