It took well over two years of planning, with thousands of people participant in the more than 200 events, but this summer's Saratoga 150 celebration is all but over. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, committee members are ready to call the historic anniversary a success.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – "When I saw people lined ten deep on both sides of Broadway from Route 50 all the way down to Congress Park, I was completely amazed,” Saratoga 150 Committee Chairman Charles Wait said, recalling the Floral Fete parade in downtown Saratoga Springs earlier this month. “I’d never seen a crown like that in my life in Saratoga.”
"I think this was the biggest celebration in the history of Saratoga," said John Hendrickson, who served as the committee’s co-chair, along with his wife, Marylou Whitney.
Culminating the first weekend of August and lasting all summer, the Saratoga 150 celebration brought together countless people in honor of Saratoga Race Course's sesquicentennial anniversary.
On Friday, Saratoga 150 committee members and NYRA executives join in the winner's circle to tie a bow on the festivities that come to a close with the end of the race meet.
"It was a great success,” Wait said. “If you look at the financial numbers, everybody I talk to, all the merchants downtown say they've had record years."
"I think the smiles on the faces, the attitudes of the fans, they really love it and so we call the people's track so we'll let them be the judge," Hendrickson said.
While the overall financial impact won't be known for some time, committee members did raise more than anticipated through donations and medallion sales.
"We started out hoping we could have a budget of about $400,000,” Wait said. “If we took all of the money raised, given, donated or spent on our behalf and it would approach $2.3 million to $2.4-million."
As a result, the group ended up with money left over.
"We don't know what kind of surplus we'll have, we will have a substantial surplus,” said Wait, who added committee members have yet to decide how they’ll spend it. “We'll have to wait for the closing of the books to do that and then we'll certainly do something that benefits Saratoga."
With 50 years until the track's next great milestone, committee members call it a safe bet that the town will be talking about this party for many years to come.
"Saratoga is the most important race meet in the world and they should be proud. They came out and showed their pride," said Hendrickson, who joined Wait and NYRA CEO Christopher Kay in adding items to a special Saratoga 150 time capsule Friday.
"People have been standing in essentially the same location watching the finest thoroughbred horse racing in the world for 150 years and that part of the tradition has not changed," Wait said.
The 2013 Saratoga meet ends Sunday with the 109th Running of the Hopeful.