The New York Racing Association (NYRA) plans a complete overhaul of the Elmont, N.Y., Thoroughbred facility, including the possible addition of a synthetic track.
“They’re built in such a way to take advantage of today’s technology to make the track safer and operate more effectively,” NYRA president and CEO Chris Kay explains in an interview with Daily Racing Forum. “It would certainly make sense if we’re going to be having this kind of reconstruction to the dirt and turf courses to also look at a synthetic track.”
The plans, which are in the conceptual stage and will require regulatory approval, include renovation of the main track and two turf courses, in addition to each floor of the grandstand.
“We think it would be best to go down to bedrock and rebuild each of our tracks so it has a better drainage system, better irrigation system,” he says.
NYRA also will need regulatory approval to make these changes, but they hope to be able to start construction in May 2019 with completion set for fall 2021. This coincides with construction of other parts of the facility by the New York Arena Partners, which will include a new hotel and a new arena for the New York Islanders professional hockey team.
With modernization of the grandstand, Kay hopes for congregational space on the first floor, restaurants that overlook the paddock and racetrack, a simulcasting facility like that at Longshots at the Aqueduct and rooms that outside entities could use for events or meetings.
“I’m trying to create places where people of different ages and different demographics would have a great time and either renew their love affair of horse racing or fall in love with horse racing for the first time,” he says.
Finally, Kay still wants to see night racing at Belmont Park. Opposition from the Standardbred industry and Yonkers Raceway made it so that a bill permitting night racing was not included in New York’s budget for 2018. He plans to fight for its inclusion in the 2019 budget.