Let the races begin! 🏇🏇
A hallmark of the Albany area, the Saratoga racing season is a summer-long national event based in New York’s capital region.
Starting in mid-July, horse races are held weekly until early September at the Saratoga Race Course.
With ticket sales beginning May 18, our New York market research company wanted to see how Capital region residents felt about the event by launching a survey.
Drive Research surveyed over 450 Albany residents who were happy to share their likes and dislikes about the races. Below are some key findings:
- 75% of Albany residents will attend a horse race at the Saratoga Race Track in 2022.
- 1 in 3 Albany residents will attend 10 or more horse races in the 2022 season.
- Over half of Albany residents say spending time with loved ones is what they enjoy most about attending the Saratoga Race Track.
- Lack of parking is the factor Albany residents enjoy the least about attending a horse race at the track.
- The Grandstand and the Clubhouse are the most preferred seating options to watch the horse races at the track.
- 1 in 3 horse race attendees agrees Hattie’s is their favorite food vendor at the Saratoga Race Course.
- 38% of residents will bet $100-$200 on horse races at the Saratoga track.
- 43% of race-goers prefer to bring their own beer to the Saratoga Race Track.
- Albany race-goers would most like to see more parking, more food vendors, and more betting stations added to the Saratoga Race Track.
- Nearly 1 in 2 Albany residents prefer to wear informal attire when attending horse races at the track.
Keep on reading to learn about these statistics and the rest of our findings.
75% of Albany residents will attend a horse race at the track in 2022.
What’s a Saratoga racing season without an audience?
As our headline reads, 3 in 4 Albany residents will be enjoying the races this summer at the Saratoga Race Course!
Additional information revealed that 9 in 10 Albany residents had already been to the race track during past seasons.
25% of those surveyed will not be attending the races, however. Common reasons for this were a concern for the well-being of the horses.
Other reasons people explained why they would not be attending a Saratoga horse race in 2022 included:
- I’m not interested in horse racing (17%)
- I'm not comfortable attending large crowds (13%)
- I have other plans (7%)
- The horse races are too expensive (12%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: The vast majority of Western New York residents will be attending the horse races in Saratoga, with others opting out due mainly to ethical concerns.
34% of Albany residents will attend 10 or more horse races in the 2022 season.
It appears we have some die-hard racing fans in our midst.
Our online survey company found that over 1 in 3 Albany locals plan to attend 10+ Saratoga horse races in 2022 (34%).
Other common answers included:
- 1 to 3 horse races (24%)
- 4 to 6 horse races (25%)
- 7 to 9 horse races (14%)
- Unsure horse races (3%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: We think it’s a fair assumption to say that the racecourse will see repeat attendees this year with 34% of Albany survey respondents saying they plan to attend 10 or more races.
Over half of Albany residents say spending time with loved ones is what they enjoy most about attending the Saratoga Race Track (57%).
With life returning to normal, being able to socialize with family and friends offers a new level of fun and meaning.
The proof is in the pudding.
A whopping 57% of locals say hanging out with friends and family is what they are looking forward to most when attending the horse races this summer.
Other factors Albany residents enjoy most about the Saratoga Race Course include:
- Watching the races (74%)
- The betting (55%)
- Being able to bring in my own food and/or beverage (41%)
- The food (18%)
- Dressing up (16%)
- Visiting other saratoga attractions (15%)
- Shopping (6%)
Amongst other attractions were “people-watching” and enjoying the beauty of the region.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Many residents enjoy watching the races and having fun with their friends and family at the Saratoga racecourse.
Lack of parking is the factor Albany residents enjoy the least about attending a horse race at the Saratoga track.
Although the vast majority of the Albany community will attend a horse race at the Saratoga Race Track in 2022, there are factors that could be improved to maximize their experiences.
For instance, 35% of respondents agree the lack of parking at the track is what they enjoy least about attending these events.
Other factors Albany residents enjoy the least about the racecourse include:
- Crowds 25%
- Not enough entertainment options (7%)
- Not enough options for families with children (4%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: Issues with parking and crowd size proved to be the top grievance at the course.
The majority of Albany residents agree the 8-week horse racing schedule is perfect (55%).
Our Saratoga Race Course survey found that Summer appears to be an ideal time for the racing season in Albany, with 55% of locals appreciating the roughly two-month race track schedule.
However, some respondents wanted a longer schedule, while others would like to see it shorter.
- 25% said, "I want fewer races in the summer."
- 13% said, "I want more races in the summer."
The remaining respondents were unsure whether they wanted the schedule to be shorter, longer, or remain the same.
💡 The Key Takeaway: A majority of respondents enjoy the races being held 8-weeks during the summer months.
The Grandstand and the Clubhouse are the most preferred seating options to watch the horse races at the track.
It’s the battle of all battles: the best seat in the house. Or, in this case, the track.
Our PR survey company learned that 32% of residents enjoy Clubhouse seating, with Grandstand seating coming in right behind at 31%.
This is where the rest of our respondents enjoy sitting:
- Box seats (12%)
- Turf Terrace (8%)
- The Porch (8%)
- Club Terrace (7%)
- 1863 Club (The Rail/Legends & Hall Suites) (7%)
- Easy Goer (6%)
- The Cutwater Stretch (4%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: Based on what we found, Saratoga Race Track seats make a big difference. The top two choices for locals were the Clubhouse and Grandstand seating options.
Nearly 1 in 3 horse race attendees agrees Hattie’s is their favorite food vendor at the Saratoga Race Course (29%).
With all the high energy from watching the races, people need to have a good spot to eat and recharge. It looks like there are many options for this at the track!
Interestingly enough, 30% of locals chose our “none of the above” option after listing 10+ food vendors at the track. This could be due to 41% of attendees bringing their own food, as we showed earlier.
Of all the food vendors mentioned, 29% of Saratoga Race Course attendees agreed Hattie's was their favorite.
Here are the other Saratoga Race Track food vendors attendees most enjoy:
- Ben & Jerry’s (11%)
- Mac Truck (9%)
- Dunkin Donuts (7%)
- Eddie F.’s (7%)
- East Coast Street Taco (6%)
- Greenhouse Salads (6%)
- Pies on Wheels (6%)
- Doc Popcorn (3%)
- Polish Water Ice (2%)
- Tipsy Scoop (2%)
- Thorn & Roots (2%)
- Meatball Planet (2%)
- Greenhouse Salads (6%)
Now we’re hungry.
💡 The Key Takeaway: While most residents prefer to bring their own food to the Saratoga Race Course, residents also most enjoy eating from Hattie's Track Shack located in the carousel.
38% of residents will bet $100-$200 on horse races at the Saratoga track.
As part of the Saratoga Race Course survey, our market research company asked attendees on average, how much money they bet when attending a horse race at the track.
Our survey showed that 32% of Albany residents will bet $120 and over on races, with a few responses reaching into the thousands.
One respondent reported betting an average of $5,000 at the Saratoga Race Course.
Other more conservative answers included $50 (12%) and $0 (13%).
💡 The Key Takeaway: We found that 38% of local betters are willing to bet at least $100 when attending a horse race at the track.
Wraps or subs are the most popular type of food Albany residents bring to the Saratoga Race Track.
As reported earlier, being able to bring in their own food and/or beverage is what 41% of Saratoga Race Track attendees enjoy most about the event.
Wraps or subs, chips or fries, and fruit or vegetable trays were among the top answers for what Albany residents are most likely to bring into the track with them.
To summarize, here are the top food options attendees most often bring to the racecourse:
- Wraps or subs (43%)
- Chips or fries (25%)
- Fruit or vegetable tray (23%)
- Salad (12%)
- Wings (3%)
- Hamburgers (2%)
- Hot dogs (1%)
- Pizza (1%)
Additionally, cheese and crackers or charcuterie supplies showed up multiple times in our “other” option.
💡 The Key Takeaway: According to locals, wraps and subs pair well with horse racing as it is the most common food options attendees bring to the track.
43% of race-goers prefer to bring their own beer to the Saratoga Race Track.
Beer is a popular drink option to bring from home at the race track. However, as much as beer was well-loved, water was the top response with 53% of attendees bringing their own.
Surprisingly, a significant number of residents choose not to bring their own drinks to the track at all.
To summarize, here are the top drink options attendees most often bring to the racecourse:
- Water (53%)
- Beer (43%)
- Soda (31%)
- I don’t bring my own drinks (27%)
- Hard seltzers or cider (16%)
- Champagne (13%)
- Wine (12%)
- Hard liquors (10%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: Beer and water are the top choices for residents to bring on their own during the Saratoga racing season.
Albany race-goers would most like to see more parking, more food vendors, and more betting stations added to the Saratoga Race Track.
When asked what types of improvements they would like to see made to the Saratoga Race Track, Albany race-goers wanted more, more, more.
More specifically, it would be most beneficial for the race track to add more parking options -- this is a concern we saw repeatedly throughout the survey.
The top improvements Albany residents would like to see added to the track in 2022 include:
- More parking (33%)
- More food vendors (22%)
- More betting stations (16%)
- More nearby dining options (9%)
- More family activity options (7%)
- More shopping areas (7%)
As we mentioned earlier in this post, many responses in the “other” category brought up ethical concerns for both the horses and jockeys.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Additional parking options, more food vendors, and added betting stations are the most desired improvement areas for Saratoga horse race-goers.
57% of Albany residents have chosen to not attend a horse race due to weather.
Our Albany market research company found that poor weather conditions proved to be the largest detraction for local race-goers.
Other factors that have caused Albany residents to not attend a horse race at the Saratoga Race Track in the past include:
- Parking options (15%)
- Ticket cost (14%)
- Not enough childcare options (1%)
- Dress code (1%)
💡 The Key Takeaway: Bad weather was by far the top reason locals choose not to attend the horse races in past summers.
Nearly 1 in 2 Albany residents prefer to wear informal attire when attending horse races at the track.
Based on pop-culture coverage, many might assume every horse race track follows the same dress protocol as the Kentucky Derby.
However, the sport has a variety of different racing atmospheres where patrons leave their big hats at home and trade them for a more carefree casual look.
For instance, nearly half of Albany locals prefer to dress casually in jeans and t-shirts when attending horse races at the Saratoga Race Course (48%). In fact, only 6% of respondents choose to wear formal attire at the track, such as a dress or suit and tie.
💡 The Key Takeaway: According to our Saratoga Race Track survey, casual dress is the preferred attire for most race-goers.
The majority of Saratoga Race Course attendees arrive at the track after 11:00 AM (59%).
Not an early bird? You’re not alone.
Although lack of parking seemed to be a big concern for Saratoga race-goers, this does not most cause attendees to show up to the track before 11:00 AM (when the gates open).
In fact, Drive Research discovered that 58% of Albany respondents chose to come to the track after 11:00 AM, and only 27% arrive before 11:00 AM. Even fewer arrive right at 11:00 AM (15%).
💡 The Key Takeaway: Although the gates open at 11:00 AM, many Saratoga racegoers arrive at the track after 11:00 AM.
67% of Albany residents like that the Saratoga Race Track attracts tourists to the community.
Now, possibly more than ever, Saratoga residents will be seeing plenty of tourists this season.
Luckily, many of our respondents appreciate the tourists that come to the area.
We found that 67% of the residents strongly or somewhat agree that they like the influx of tourists.
However, this may be a bit of a bummer for 21% of locals, who do not appreciate the tourist attention the Saratoga horseraces bring to the community.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Our survey found that 67% of Albany residents like the attention tourists give to the area during the Saratoga racing season.
About the Survey
- The survey received 455 responses.
- Fieldwork was conducted with adults 18+ in the Albany, NY DMA.
- Fieldwork for the survey began on April 12th and lasted until April 27th.
Respondent Profile (By Age)
- Baby boomers: 59%
- Generation X: 25%
- Millennials and Generation Z: 16%
About Drive Research
Drive Research is a full-service market research company located in Upstate New York. Our market research firm works with a variety of organizations, helping deliver insights, action items, and ROI on their survey efforts.
Our research has been featured in top-tier media outlets including USA Today, CNBC, Forbes, Spectrum, Yahoo Finance, and Statista.
To learn more about our market research services, contact our team today.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at [email protected]
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.
Learn more about Lark, here.