Horse racing has been around for centuries; however, the first organized Thoroughbred horse racing track to open in the United States was Saratoga Race Course. Saratoga opened on August 3, 1863, which not only makes it the oldest horse racing track; it also makes it the oldest type of sporting venue in the United States.
Saratoga Race Course is known by many different nicknames, including The Spa, due to the mineral springs that are located in close proximity to the race course. Another nickname for the track is the Graveyard of Favorites. The track received this nickname because of the many upsets that have occurred over the years of racing that have taken place at Saratoga. One of the several upsets happened to Man O’ War at Saratoga. This is the racetrack where Man O’ War received his only defeat in twenty one starts. Another favorite to fall at the infamous racetrack was Secretariat when he was defeated by a horse by the name of Onion. This defeat came after Secretariat impressively won all three races of the Triple Crown. The 1930 Travers Stakes also saw the fall of another favorite when Gallant Fox was defeated by Jim Dandy. Jim Dandy was the long shot of the race and went off at odds of 100:1.
The historic racetrack has seen continuous racing for most of its history. The track has only closed on four occasions. The first time the track closed was in 1911 and 1912 when the governor of New York outlawed all types of wagering on horseracing. The next time the track closed was during World War II. The last time that Saratoga closed was during the 2006 summer meet. This closure was due to a heat wave that made it unsafe for the horses to race.
Saratoga is similar to the other racetracks in New York in that there are three separate tracks that compose the race course. The main track at Saratoga is the dirt track that is one and one eighth miles in length. There is also an outer turf course located on the inside of the dirt course that is one mile and ninety eight feet in length. There is also an inner turf course that is located on the inside of the main turf course that is approximately seven and one half furlongs in length. There is also a separate track that is used for training and warm-ups.