The Spa: Saratoga's Legendary Race Course

Paul Roberts and Isabelle Taylor

As the oldest surviving sports ground in the United States, Saratoga Race Course has lured the superstars of racing since its earliest days.  For six weeks every summer, nearly one million visitors flock to the small upstate-New York city to enjoy for themselves this bastion of the racing calendar.  But it is not purely the quality of the sport that draws them; the allure of Saratoga is the unparalleled history that presides over the track itself.

While baseball fields, football stadiums and racetracks country-wide have torn down their historic facilities in a race to modernize, Saratoga’s story is one of amazing survival. Its 350-acre property is a panorama of historic buildings and landscapes that has, over a century and a half, evolved to forge the essential character of the racetrack. The Spa: Saratoga’s Legendary Race Course brings to life the history of the racetrack’s physical fabric, outlining how the historic buildings and landscapes that make up the site today came into being.  This is no pure architectural study, but a portrait of how Saratoga’s highs and lows, and its gangsters, politicians and millionaires have shaped the venerable sporting ground.

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