Open Enrollment- Health Insurance

October 2nd, 2020

SHHA trainers, drivers and grooms are welcome to attend the open enrollment session. A representative from Bouchey and Clarke Benefits will be holding an open enrollment session on Monday, October 26, 2020 from 12-2 PM at the SHHA Office. The SHHA members will learn about the programs available and the premium rates.

SHHA Member Events

October 2nd, 2020

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 is the Grooms Luncheon at the Track Kitchen. Meal Tickets for the Grooms will be provided prior to the event. Due to COVID 19 protocol and guidelines, serving will be begin at 11:30am…as take out.

The annual Santa Luncheon and the annual banquet are canceled.

The Board hopes everyone remains healthy and look forward to a better 2021.

Six Candidates for the Election

October 2nd, 2020

The following individuals will be on the ballot this year:

Brian Cross, Jordan Derue, John Hoagland, Thomas McTygue, Kyle Spagnola and Mark Whitcroft.

The ballots will be mailed November 11, 2020. Please be sure to complete your ballot and mail your ballot in the return envelope as quickly as possible. All Ballots must be returned to the SHHA no later than Friday December 4, 2020.

The Ballots will be counted on December 5, 2020. Please remember that SHHA members may observe the Board of Directors tally the votes.

October and November Race Dates

September 24th, 2020

Racing will continue on Mondays and Tuesdays during October through November 24, 2020 Post Time 12:00PM

USTA -Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

September 21st, 2020

Columbus, OH — The U.S. Trotting Association is requesting the assistance of all members and other harness racing participants in contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives to express opposition to new legislation called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (S. 4547) recently introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

If enacted, the new law would:

1. Significantly increase your cost of racing
2. Eliminate the use of race-day Lasix
3. Place harness racing under the regulation of a new, federal Authority with little or no harness racing representation or consideration for our concerns

Attached is a letter template that can be customized by individuals and organizations to express opposition to the proposed legislation.

Contact information your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives (House),

The attached letter can be sent by email or individuals can call their Congressman’s office directly to state opposition to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020.

Here’s why the law is bad for both harness racing participants and the industry.

Significant increase in the cost of racing
The proposed legislation would establish a new fee structure approximated to be a $45 surcharge to owners and trainers for every horse in every race. This significant increase in the cost of racing will force many small horse owners and trainers out of business.

Elimination of race-day Lasix
The new law would phase out the use of race-day Lasix, the only known medication to treat Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (bleeding) for all horses. Before taking any action on Lasix, the USTA has recommended an independent, large scale study to examine its effects. The USTA along with the major veterinarian organizations endorse the use of Lasix because it is in the best interests of the health of the horses.

New, federal racing Authority
The newly-created federal, regulatory Authority would regulate horse racing nationwide with a board made up of a majority of members who have no experience in the horse racing industry and hand-picked by the same Thoroughbred elite interest groups behind this legislation. With little or no representation on that board, the interests of harness racing will be ignored as they have been in the formulation of this bill.

Following is the letter template to use for contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives:

September XX, 2020

The Honorable XX
XX Senate/House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator/Representative XX:

The United States Trotting Association advocates for the betterment of the horse and horse racing on behalf of Standardbred racehorse owners, trainers and backstretch personnel. In that context, the USTA and many others who are supportive of the horse industry are very concerned about, and have strong feelings against, the newly-introduced Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA).

If enacted, the HISA would, over the next three years, mandate a phase out of an important, protective medication, commonly known as Lasix. Lasix is the only known medication to treat a condition called Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs. Because EIPH threatens the health and well-being of many racehorses, we believe that, until an alternative treatment is developed, Lasix should be utilized on race day. Lasix is not performance enhancing, it is not doping, and due to the very sensitive capabilities of testing, it cannot be used to mask illegal medications. Science and national veterinary leadership groups continue to support the administration of Lasix on race-day. If bill sponsors truly care for the health of racehorses, they should consider an independent, peer-reviewed, U.S.-based, large-scale study on Lasix prior to implementing any ban on race day Lasix.

Additionally, the HISA states that initial funding for the new horseracing regulatory Authority will come from loans taken out by the Authority. Those loans must then be repaid through a new fee structure determined by the Authority. Bill supporters have indicated that it would be funded by a surcharge to the owners and trainers of every horse in every race to cover operational costs and to repay the loans. Compounding this reality with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic would force many small, agricultural-based business owners out of the industry.

Finally, the new Authority created in the HISA would regulate horseracing nationwide through a board that will have a majority of members who have no experience in the horseracing industry. This board will be hand-picked by the same elite interest groups pushing this legislation. We believe that a majority of the board should be represented by those who will be impacted by the new regulatory scheme, and it should specifically include practicing veterinarians.

According to a recent American Horse Council study, the horse racing industry contributes approximately $36 billion annually to the national economy and provides about 240,000 direct jobs. Any measure which will add further regulatory and cost burdens will only harm those state and local economies that depend on the industry. Accordingly, we urge you to oppose the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.


[Insert Signature]


(United States Trotting Association 9/19/20 USTA Department of Communications.)

Saratoga Casino Hotel to Reopen on September 9

September 8th, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (September 8, 2020) – Saratoga Casino Hotel announced today that they will reopen their doors to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, September 9 at 2pm after being closed for nearly six months. The casino will be open from 2pm-10pm on Wednesday and 10am-2am beginning on Thursday.

Last week Governor Cuomo announced that casinos were permitted to reopen starting September 9 with a 25 percent occupancy limit and strict enforcements of guidelines including face coverings, social distancing, and enhanced air filtration and cleaning protocols.

“We’re ready,” said Alex Tucker, General Manager of Saratoga Casino Hotel. “We’ve been waiting and preparing for this day for a long time. We’re happy to have more team members back to work and be able to open our doors to our guests. We’re confident that our plan will allow us to deliver the fun and entertaining experience our guests have come to expect in a safe environment.”

Over the last several months, Saratoga Casino Hotel has developed a plan to implement physical modifications as well as policy and procedural changes to protect the health and safety of team members and guests. The highlights of their “Safe Bet Plan” plan include:

Cleaning & Sanitation

  • Heightened cleaning, sanitation and hygiene protocols involving the frequent cleaning and sanitation of high touchpoints, self-cleaning wraps and pads on door handles and crash bars, and nightly misting sanitation.
  • Use of MERV-13 air filters throughout the property.
  • Installation of several hand sanitation stations throughout property.
  • Enforcing social distancing guidelines through the use of floor guides and plexiglass barriers at guest service locations.
  • In-service slot machines will be spaced 6 feet apart. Any machine not available for play will be placed out-of-service and the chair will be removed to assist with social distancing.
  • Guests and team members will be required to wear masks while on property. Masks may only be removed when dining in designated locations.
  • Guests and team members will be screened upon entry with a non-invasive temperature scan. Guests may also opt to have their ID scanned for assistance with contact tracing.
  • All guests will be required to enter and exit through the south entrance, located near Crescent Avenue to assist with monitoring capacity.
  • Hours will be limited to 10am-2am to allow for enough time for proper disinfecting and sanitation.

Some casino amenities such as cocktail service, self-service beverage stations, Mane Bar, Garden Buffet and Vapor will remain closed at this time. The reopening of these amenities will be reevaluated as restrictions are lifted. The Hotel, Morton’s The Steakhouse and the Jackpot Deli with simulcasting are all currently open on the property as well.

For the full list of health and safety protocols, visit to review the “Safe Bet” Plan in its entirety. 

About Saratoga Casino Hotel:
Saratoga Casino Hotel, located on Crescent Avenue in Saratoga Springs, NY, features slot machines, a 117-room luxury hotel, electronic table games, Vapor, Morton’s® The Steakhouse, two full-service restaurants with buffets, a casual dining restaurant, three full-service bars, deli and a variety of guest services including valet parking and coat check. Simulcast wagering is available and live harness racing runs February through mid-December. Much of Saratoga Casino Hotel remains closed due to the pandemic, for information on what is open on property, please visit

6 More Race Dates in September

August 27th, 2020

Saratoga Casino Hotel proposed additional 6 days of racing to the NYS Gaming Commission and today the dates were approved. Besides September 1 and 2nd, there will be racing on Mondays and Tuesdays; Sept 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29.

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