HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Oaklawn’s racing season begins on December 3 and will be the beginning of a 66-day schedule and will run until May 8.

Oaklawn officials say they’ve been preparing for this moment for months.

“It’s a hubbub of holiday activity in more ways than one,” Oaklawn’s VP of Marketing Joan Botts said.

Botts added Oaklawn is adding a lot of new features this year.  They have expanded their dining options including bigger areas for The Cove and the Arkansas Sports Tavern, there will be a new smoking section in the casino, and there is a new area to place sports wagers on the racing side.

Botts said the excitement is also built around Oaklawn being more normal than the past two years.

“The buzz of things that are new but it’s just bringing it back,” she said.

Oaklawn would not estimate what they think the expanded racing season will do for the track financially but they do think it will be a very significant impact. 

Ancillary businesses to the track are also betting big since many of them see over half their business done during racing season.

“We’re all like very pumped to see you like this place get filled up again,” said Edgar Martinez who is a server for Capo’s Tacos.

Martinez said a busy Oaklawn is a busy Capo’s and their restaurant has been planning for a while now on just how they will adjust to the bigger crowds during racing season.

“But when it does come into season you’ll see like four different servers running around with two bartenders in the back everyone definitely going to be busy here,” Martinez explained.

Martinez also said many of the workers at Capo’s Tacos are banking on the racing season bringing them big boosts to their bank as well.

“For servers, I do see us getting bumped up by like another like 40% more than what we normally would,” Martinez said.