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NYRA touts Saratoga plans

With legislation still pending regarding the New York Racing Association's franchise, it announced plans Monday, June 23, at the Desmond Hotel in Colonie to bring in big crowds and supply good times for the 2008 Saratoga racing meet.

Charles Hayward, chief executive for NYRA, acknowledged NYRA's legal red tape is still an ongoing issue, but emphasized that NYRA is planning an exciting season for its 140th summer session at Saratoga.

I hope next year by this time there won't be any talk about the franchise, Hayward said.

Hayward said that Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, R-Brunswick, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Gov. David Paterson have all been supportive of NYRA in its attempts to come out of bankruptcy.

Gavin Landry, NYRA's senior vice-president of sales and marketing, highlighted several new ideas to help improve customer service and bring people to the track.

Five new restaurants; Grey Gelding, Hattie's, Brindisi's, Panza's and 1 Caroline Street Bistro/Mouzon House, will be featured on-site this summer, a feature that Landry believes will provide a boost to the overall atmosphere at the track.

"NYRA is happy to be working with the local area to promote some of its more popular restaurants on track. As a gesture to the Saratoga community, NYRA waived some of its profits and paid for certain infrastructure in order to accomplish this. NYRA's food and beverage concessionaire, Centerplate, was also a significant partner with these quality restaurants that are part of the attraction of Saratoga," said Landry in a written statement.

Landry said this season there will be more corporate sponsorship, an additional picnic area and a "Spa" program that will offer an "elevated level of service" to customers.

NYRA is also hopeful they will be able to have Big Brown as a fan attraction. Big Brown won two out of the three legs of the Triple Crown and NYRA officials believe it is a possibility the horse will run at the $1 million, one-and-a-quarter-mile Travers on Aug. 23.

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