Every Travers day, the most valued piece of real estate at Saratoga Race Course is a picnic table in the backyard. About 8 feet long, all 850 of them are snatched up within minutes of the gates opening at 7 a.m., by people who have been waiting in line since the wee hours of the morning for the chance to run like hell to the backyard and plant a flag – sometimes literally – at a favorite spot and spread out food, drinks, and past performances.
While Travers Day is the apotheosis of the hunt for picnic tables, they are in demand on pretty much every day of the meet, so much so that in recent years the New York Racing Association began charging for the right to reserve one, at first only on Travers day; last year, that practice extended to every day of the meeting, with 100 tables available to people who’d prefer to pay than to get up early to reserve one in person.
While the number of tables available to reserve was reduced by about 10 percent this year, the overall number of tables in the backyard increased, with another 100 added before this summer’s meet began.
And numbers like that are music to Brien Hollowood’s ears.
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