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

NYS Racing Licensing

June 11th, 2020

Licensing by Appointment – An appointment system to get people licensed at the N.Y.S. Gaming Commission Racing Office at the Saratoga Casino Hotel on 342 Jefferson Street, Saratoga Springs.  Appointments will be June 8-12, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, applicants must call the following number during regular business hours: 518-388-3457.

Documents Needed

To make the process clean and quick, applicants must bring a completed License Application, Proof of Identification, and Request for Card Scan Services – Information Form.  Other forms may be necessary, depending on circumstance.  The failure to bring completed forms will likely result in the cancellation of an applicant appointment. 

The Commission has a document that explains what is necessary to successfully navigate the licensing process.  That document may be found at the following link:

  • Instruction for Harness Racing Applicants


The various required Commission forms may be found at the following links:

  • Commission Racing License Application


  • Commission Proof of Identification Checklist


  • Request for Card Scan Services – Information Form


If applicable, the license applicant must also bring the following completed forms:

  • Investigator’s Supplement IS-1 Form


  • Parental Consent Form


  • State Public Employees Information Form

PE-1 https://www.gaming.ny.gov/pdf/pe-1.pdf

  • Certification of Compliance CS-1


Required PPE

An applicant will be denied access to the Commission Racing Office if they fail to wear a mask.  No masks will be provided for applicants.

Answers to Questions from COVID-19 Session

June 11th, 2020

Will there be a special protocol for Sire Stakes Ship in?

At this time, this cannot be answered because the State of New York may be in a different phase.  

Can  Qualifiers be  6/13 or another day prior to 6/18?


Can Sire Stakes outside the 60 mile radius qualify and or race? 


Exactly where will drivers be waiting and accessing the horses?  

As stated at the COVID-19 info session, Drivers will be outside the paddock by the locker room until time to get on their horse.  They will walk around, go in paddock gate, walk along the paddock building, and get on their horse as they leave the paddock for the track.   

If you have a bad-mannered horse, can you remove its equipment inside the paddock before bringing back to barn?

A suggestion is to obtain permission from the paddock judge to use one of the wash stalls or a urine stall for this specific issue.

New Instructions for Info for Master File Form

June 8th, 2020

The SHHA received new instructions for completing the Info For Master List:

Each person requiring access to the backstretch should complete a form for themselves.

Trainers are responsible for reviewing the reopening Policies and Procedures with their grooms and ensuring that they fill out their info for the master list, receive a copy of the COVID-19 Training Packet and sign the training acknowledgement form.

Vendors (vets, blacksmiths, feed suppliers) will fill out their own forms.

Trainers are not responsible for vendor forms, but may wish to remind anyone that comes to their barn regularly to fill out their form and turn it in at the Stable Gate.

Copies of the above forms documents will be available at the Stable Gate starting Tuesday, 6/9/20.

COVID-19 Reopening

June 6th, 2020

Qualifiers for local trainers will be June 13th and Racing resumes June 18th with a noon post. Open qualifiers will be held after the races on June 18th The SHHA would like to thank the local trainers for attending the reopening session. Trainers and their staff must review the Covid-19 training pamphlet, each must sign the Covid training acknowledgement form, along with the Info for Master List form. The trainers must collect all completed forms from their staff and service providers and return the forms to the stable gate by Thursday June 11th. Please provide all licensed essential employees with the Covid Questionnaire form, so they may have a completed form to present to Security when having their temperature taken at the stable gate everyday.

Saratoga Harness Reopening Process Timeline as of May 30, 2020

May 31st, 2020

Members of SHHA and the management team of Saratoga Casino Raceway (SCR) have been working together throughout the closure to try to get racing back as soon as possible after the Covid-19 related closure on March 22, 2020. There appears to be questions as to the efforts being taken by SCR and SHHA to be as prepared as possible for the earliest safe reopening possible. The following timeline hopefully will answer many of the current questions/concerns and bring everyone up to date.

3/22 Tracks are closed for horse racing by the NYS Gaming Commission (NYSGC) by Executive Order of the Governor.

4/2 NYSGC issues a memo to tracks and Horseperson Organizations about continuing operations including appropriate procedures for items including Racetrack Access (ie: no owner visitation allowed, gate access restrictions that had to be put in place by SCR to meet the memo standards).

4/3 SCR contacts SHHA to form a reopening committee to address issues as they evolve to be as prepared as possible for reopening consideration. Through the month of April several conference calls took place, communications with the NYSGC occurred and a formal plan was developed for presentation for reopening consideration. This preparation included an analysis of the purse account balance and estimated future funding and expenses to determine the feasibility of a prompt reopening. The plan was reviewed with the Race Secretary and it was determined that reopening with initial months modified dates and reduced purse levels was viable for SCR. The plan at that point in time was being prepared with the hope that a May 1 reopening date would be considered.

4/24 NYSGC issued a memo to tracks that reopening would not be considered until no earlier than 5/15. Issuance of our plan was put on hold until further developments were received.

5/7 NYSGC requested advance reopening plans be forwarded from tracks for their review ahead of the release of their “official “guidelines. The SCR report in its then current form was submitted to demonstrate our preparedness based on the information then available.

5/15 Governor announces that racetracks can be considered for safe reopening as of June 1.

5/27 NYSGC released their version of Guidelines for Racing Activities. Many of the provisions were included in our plan from a few weeks earlier however several specific elements that are NYS Dept. of Health driven are also included.

5/28-29- SCR working on rewording the procedures document to address item by item the Commission Guidelines. Since it is almost certain that we should anticipate a visit and review by the NYSGC and Dept. of Health it appeared to make the most sense to not push our own version as some tracks are and incorporate our previous plans into the NYSGC format. There are some elements of the Guidelines that we believe should be modified and are providing feedback to the NYSGC on those. An example being the testing procedures included for ship-ins. It appeared proper for us to include our local farm participants under the same rules related to the on track horsepersons since they have already routinely shipped in and out on a regular basis. That would exempt them from the Covid test requirement and put them in the temperature test and questionnaire requirement. This was addressed with the NYSGC and it was agreed that we can follow our suggested procedure with the recommendation of isolating the ship-ins as much as possible. It is the opinion of SCR and SHHA that the original document submitted in early May addressed many of the current requirements and any necessary modifications to be in line with the new guidelines can be timely incorporated into the document to be prepared for reopening.

6/2 the revised plan will be completed and a copy forwarded to SHHA for review and input. On June 4 a meeting or conference call will occur between SHHA representatives and SCR management to discuss any potential open issues and come to an agreement on the final operating policies and procedures document. That document will be available for distribution to all the SHHA members after any final changes are made, likely by June 5 or 6. At the same time the final required paperwork will be submitted to the NYSGC along with our proposed schedule date changes for at least June and July (two days a week). A general meeting of membership will be scheduled at the backstretch on June 6, details to be announced, to review the required procedures and any questions.

The plans mentioned as of the date of this memo forward are anticipated but subject to change as events related to the Covid issues change frequently for all businesses. Because of the volatility of the current events, there has been a hesitation to release any proposed guidelines to this point since the directives being passed down to the tracks change constantly. Our track in particular has many additional considerations to be addressed that some do not since we have an active backstretch barn area including dorms. At this point hopefully this will serve to catch-up where we currently are and how we got here. It should be emphasized that SCR management has been supportive throughout along with

SHHA to try to get our local members back racing as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Joe Battaglia-SHHA Treasurer/Secretary

Sire Stakes Qualifiers and Shipping

May 30th, 2020

At this time, NYS has the following policy in place for trainers shipping horses out and to be allowed to return to the Saratoga Casino Hotel backstretch.


Scroll down to Racing Activities, then click on Read and Affirm Detailed Guidelines.

This information is on page 5

Transport Out.  Trainers may ship to run horses at another racing facilities provided the trainer and their staff does not accompany the horse to the other track. Therefore, trainers must hire a shipper to transport the horse, designate a trainer to care and race the horse and use a driver from the other track.  The shipper may return the horse to the original racetrack property.  In this case, the ship-in policy will be followed.

Ship In. Shippers will access the racetrack property at the common gate and COVID 19 protocol will be followed. If the driver is cleared through the screening, they will be able to proceed onto the grounds to unload the horse. If the driver is not cleared, then the horse is unloaded outside the racetrack grounds into the custody and control of the trainer’s present on track licensed personnel.

Several parties are working to get this requirement changed, but until it is changed, it currently remains in effect.

Schooling Scheduled for June 1st and June 8th

May 27th, 2020

There will be schooling on Monday June 1 and June 8 at 10:30am on the main track. Only 2YO’s (or green 3YOs) jogging. The gate will not be opening and closing. Each set will consist of a maximum of 6 horses. Please sign up at the McGivern Stable.

Attention Horsemen Stabled on the Backstretch

May 6th, 2020

Saratoga Casino Hotel and Raceway will allow “local” shippers and farm managers to pick up and drop off horses for turnout at near by farms, provided the following procedures are followed:

Trainers must notify the stable gate with the name of farm/shipper, horse(s) name and the scheduled time the transport will arrive.

When the shipper arrives, he or she will turn around after entering the stable gate and pull off to the side. The shipper must remain in the vehicle.

The trainer will unload or load the horse(s).

Stable Gate staff will record the horse(s) leaving for and returning from turnout on the daily log.