With the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival taking place at Saratoga Race Course this June, the Horseshoe Inn Bar & Grill, located steps away from the track, is ready for a record-breaking summer

We recently caught up with owner Charlie Hoertkorn to learn about the history of “The Shoe” and why customers can expect “a damn good time” every time they visit.


When did you buy the Horseshoe and what were your goals?

The location has been many bars over the years, and at one point a breakfast spot. From my understanding, it became The Horseshoe in 1986. I bought it with a couple of partners in 2017, and then in 2022 I bought them out. When I bought it, everybody knew the Horseshoe as “this track place,” but I saw it as a neighborhood tavern. It was my goal to bring back the September through June crowd while still maximizing July and August as much as possible.

What have been some of the big changes you made?

New tents, paving, new bars… we keep expanding on the customer experience to make it more comfortable with a better flow. I would say, “let’s change this, let’s keep this, this works, that doesn’t work.” Every year, I would take inventory on how things went and what to tweak. For a while there, we were busting at the seams, so it was important to redevelop the business around what the business had become.

What has led to the Horseshoe’s success?

Obviously, the track during the summer, but the last couple of years the off-season business has been great. We’re not fine dining but we’re not bar food either; we’re what you might call upscale comfort bar food and we have found that appeals to a broader audience in the area during the off-season.

What does it mean to have the Belmont come to Saratoga this year?

It’s huge! It’ll be like an August weekend in June, and it’s going to bring sales and people to town that are going to put a ton of money into the economy. Local businesses, hotels, restaurants, bars, we’re all going to see sales we wouldn’t normally see.

What are you doing differently during the Belmont?

We’ll be setting up our tents, outdoors bars, and VIP lounges like we usually do, only a month earlier! We’ll be providing the same exceptional service we always do and welcoming our Saratoga crowds along with some visiting guests who will be here for this exciting Belmont race weekend!