Letter: 1863 Club offers 'extraordinary value'

Letter: 1863 Club offers 'extraordinary value'

NYRA will always welcome constructive feedback regarding the fan experience at Saratoga Race Course. However, we must take issue with the perceived “impossible calculation” in Susie Davidson Powell’s review of the 1863 Club ("Buffet at Track's 1863 Club dismaying, and at a cost," Sept. 5).

The only impossible calculation here is the one in which Davidson Powell chose to compare a ticket to a premium hospitality venue at one of the nation’s most popular sporting events to a Sunday brunch at a traditional restaurant.

The 1863 Club is not a traditional restaurant. Guests come for the experience, not just a meal. We are certainly proud of our food and beverage offerings, but we do not expect that most fans come to Saratoga for a quick bite. An afternoon at the 1863 Club is about having a front row seat in a new and modern facility to the pageantry and excitement of thoroughbred racing.

When Davidson Powell noted that her guests were dismayed that the dessert buffet had not been made available until 1:45 p.m. — just after post time for only the day’s second race with at least nine more to come on Sunday — that would be analogous to visiting Yankee Stadium for lunch and departing after the second inning.

An $85 ticket includes not just a plentiful brunch buffet, but a full-day indoor reserved seat with air conditioning and sweeping floor-to-ceiling views of the main attraction. Aside from the seat, the ticket price includes Clubhouse admission ($10); a post parade program ($6); two mimosas ($24); unlimited non-alcoholic beverages ($25); and tax and gratuity ($18).

By our math, the brunch is essentially offered at no-cost for fans to enjoy world-class thoroughbred racing at what Sports Illustrated named one of the world’s top 10 sports venues.

We are confident fans will conclude that the calculation, and the extraordinary value of Sunday brunch at the 1863 Club, does indeed add up.

Kevin Quinn

Saratoga Springs
Vice President, Sales and Hospitality
New York Racing Association