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Photo Courtesy of EIE Editorial Staff
Photo Courtesy of EIE Editorial Staff

New York has a long and prestigious reputation in the sport of horse racing. There are many tracks, both Thoroughbred and harness, in the Empire State. The state boasts many farms of myriad breeds, and historic, world-renowned tracks.

The first formal horse race in North America took place at Salisbury on Long Island, in 1665 – not far from the site of Roosevelt Field, a sentimental favorite harness track in the 1940s – 1988. The first track was named Newmarket, no doubt influenced by the British, as Newmarket was the home of British racing.

In 2005, Belmont Park celebrated the 340th anniversary of that first race meet with a ceremony during Belmont’s Breeders’ Cup weekend. English equestrians and their horses, adorned in gear and tack from the mid-17th Century, paraded onto the track, holding ceremonial flags.

Many tracks in the State are being renovated; even the world-renowned Saratoga Race Course has created new dining and seating options to accommodate the sport’s growing fanbase.

To many, horse racing is synonymous with betting, and the New York State Gaming Commission oversees all gaming in the State. The Commission has authority over all racing to assure that they adhere to the letters of the law. As online betting is becoming the new trend across most American states, horse races will be included within the new options available for sports betting in New York.

The Gaming Commission requires all facilities to maintain the highest standards, to assure that horses living and working on their tracks are well cared-for. Racetracks in New York have some of the nation’s most advanced facilities: horses here get the best care before, during and after events.

This list of noted tracks are highly-recommend and if you love horse racing and visit New York - do check them out!

1. Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack is an historic Thoroughbred track in New York, built in 1894. (Saratoga Race Course is the oldest, opened in 1864.) The New York Racing Association’s offices are at Aqueduct, in the Ozone Park/Jamaica neighborhood of Queens and it is located adjacent to the Resorts World New York City Casino;—distinguishing Aqueduct as the only horse track in New York City.

Aqueduct’s 2021-2022 meet runs from December through March. The track itself has three courses. The main track (dirt) has a circumference of 1 1/8 miles Inside of the main track are two courses: the 1 mile, main turf course, and the inner turf course measuring 7 furlongs.

This venue has been featured in movies Lucky Number Slevin and A Bronx Tale, as well as an episode of The Sopranos. Along with Belmont, Aqueduct is used often for scenes in Law & Order TV show franchises

2. Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs, in western New York, offers several options for race fans and general tourists, alike: besides their harness (Standardbreds) track, there’s a casino, restaurant, spa and other amenities for folks keen on extending their stay.

Horse racing takes place from July to September, and you’ll find that ticket prices are pretty reasonable. Bets can be made before the start of any race via the cashier’s box,but the online betting wave provides another option.

Schedules for races can be found online too, allowing fans to check dates and times before booking a reservation or obtaining tickets.

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3. Buffalo Raceway

Buffalo Raceway has been around since 1942, and still is a top New York racing venue. Spectators can enjoy harness racing from January to July; night races are also a neat attraction. Fans can see schedules online, as well.

There’s free entry and parking, and always special events throughout the year: giveaways, handicap competitions, festivals and more.

4. Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

Folks can enjoy 160 full days of Thoroughbred racing every year. Finger Lakes also has a casino and several dining and nightlife options, many of which offer live entertainment.

Fans may choose to spend a few days exploring all that Finger Lakes offers, or simply enjoy a day of racing with friends.

Schedule and ticket information for Finger Lakes can be found online too, while all of the races, live or previous, are available for viewing on the web. All that’s needed is an Internet connection.

Stats can be accessed through Finger Lakes’ portal which comes in quite handy for persons looking to place bets.

5. Goshen Historic Track

Goshen Historic Track has offered harness racing since 1838, making it the world’s oldest continuously-operating harness track.

The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is on the property, offering visitors a trip to times past and a history lesson. Having new knowledge and respect for the sport, fans can place bets and enjoy racing during the Historic Track’s season.

There are many festivities during the season – most are family-friendly, offering days of fun, games, and surprises. Also! Guests may choose to don their best clothing and attend the Historic Track’s Kentucky Derby Party, on the First Saturday in May. (Derby festivities will be broadcast on large-screen TVs.)

Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the two internationally-renowned New York tracks that round out NYRA’s powerful Thoroughbred trinity: Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course which both offer world-class Thoroughbred racing and historic races, including the Travers, Whitney, Woodward. Jockey Club Gold Cup, Sword Dancer and Belmont Stakes. (The third – and often, the deciding -- race in America’s Triple Crown.) For more information on all NYRA’s tracks, check out

There are more interesting articles in our section on Horse Racing.

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