Jan 14, 2022
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NYRA to reconstruct the historic Wilson Chute at Saratoga Race Course

by Pat McKenna

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that it plans to reconstruct the historic “Wilson Chute” at Saratoga Race Course, which will be in use during the 2022 summer meet and allow for one-mile races to be contested on the main track.

Long a distinctive part of Saratoga Race Course, the Wilson Chute was dismantled after the 1972 season to accommodate additional parking. It was brought back briefly in 1992 when 25 races started in the chute, including an off-the-turf edition of the Grade 3 Daryl’s Joy, later renamed the Fourstardave Handicap and now one of the most popular Grade 1 races of the annual summer meet.

“The Wilson Chute will only add to the quality and consistency of dirt racing at Saratoga,” said Glen Kozak, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Capital Projects. “It’s a thrill to be able to reconstruct a historic element of Saratoga in a way that will undoubtedly prove beneficial to the summer meet.”

The Wilson Chute was named to honor the contributions of the late Richard T. Wilson, a banker and President of the Saratoga Racing Association for most of the first quarter of the 20th century. The reconstructed Wilson Chute will carefully follow the route of the original chute along the Clubhouse Turn, just to the west of the 1863 Club.

The project to reconstruct the Wilson Chute has the support of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and will be accompanied by upgrades to the Tailgate at the Turn picnic area located at the Clubhouse Turn.

Wilson was among a group of investors led by William C. Whitney who purchased Saratoga Race Course in 1900. Mr. Wilson oversaw major capital improvements to the track’s facilities, which resulted in the overall beautification of the historic property.

“The Foundation is pleased that the chute that was part of the 1902 Master Plan. designed by landscape architect Charles Leavitt, Jr., is being restored,” said Samantha Bosshart, Executive Director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. "The 1902 Master Plan included enlarging the track, moving it westward, and rotating it 25 degrees as well as inserting a steeplechase course into the infield. The Foundation looks forward to reviewing the plans as they develop. This restoration will certainly add to the excitement of racing.”

Mr. Wilson also served as president of the Westchester Racing Association, which once owned Belmont Park, and as a steward of The Jockey Club. As head of Wilson Stable, he owned three winners of the Travers Stakes: Gallavant (1906), Hannibal (1919) and Wilderness (1923). Wilson also won the Preakness with The Parader in 1901; the Preakness and Belmont Stakes with Pillory in 1922; and bred and owned Campfire, the Champion 2-year-old of 1916 and the winner that year of the Sanford, Saratoga Special and Hopeful, all at Saratoga.

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