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Saratoga Springs Asks Visitors To Prepare For Travers Crowds

Lucas Willard

Saratoga Springs will be packed with visitors for Travers weekend and public safety officials are putting a plan in place to make sure guests enjoy their stay.

Between the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, the viewing parties for those who couldn’t get in and still want to watch American Pharoah, and Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire performing at SPAC on Saturday night, the population of Saratoga Springs will undoubtedly double several times over.

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen has simple advice for those heading into the Spa City.

“Come early,” he laughed. “Come early. Obviously be careful and have a great time, but yes, obviously it will be harder to get into the city than usual.”

That message about being early also refers to parking.

“Otherwise you’ll probably be walking quite a ways to get from your cars into the track.”

Attendance for the Travers Stakes has been capped at 50,000 this year. While there have been larger days before, the New York Racing Association is not taking any chances after last year’s Belmont Stakes, where traffic was snarled for hours. This year the Belmont was capped at 90,000 attendees.

NYRA is opening the Race Course at 7 a.m. for ticketed patrons, and guests are encouraged to stay after the last race with live entertainment until 9 p.m.

Saratoga Springs Assistant Chief of Police John Catone said the police department started planning for a big Travers weekend as soon as American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in June.

Catone is encouraging all motorists to take a look at the city’s Travers Day traffic plan.

“If everybody tries to get to exit 14, they’re going to find that they’re going to wait and awful long time on the Northway. We’re also asking that they think about using Route 9, Route 50, 29, etc. There’s probably six or seven ways to get to the race track and we’re asking everyone to explore all the different options.”

As far as the volume of police officers that will be on duty…

“Pretty much everyone that’s available to work will be working,” said Catone.

Catone said the department is splitting up into two different details throughout the day and evening – one at the racetrack, and the other throughout the city and downtown.

Additional assistance will be provided by state police and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.

The city fire department is also bucking up. Chief Robert Williams…

“The fire inspector is going to work Friday and Saturday nights, checking occupancy loads for local business and bars, we have a detail that will be working at the track during Travers during a HAZMAT team and two engine crews, as well as EMS. And we’ll have extra EMS and ambulances on duty both days.”

For a link to the safety plan, visit: https://local.nixle.com/alert/5480924/

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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