Opening day at Saratoga gets off to a hot start

Posted at: 07/19/2013 5:06 PM
Updated at: 07/19/2013 6:48 PM
By: Dan Bazile

SARATOGA SPRINGS - They're off -- kicking off the first race of a milestone season at the Saratoga Race Course with a big crowd cheering on.

It's fitting that the winner of this race is "Hardest Core", because many say you have to be a hard-core horse racing fan to be here on one of the hottest days of the year.

“Yes, let's own up to it. We're die hards,” said Berta Maginniss a Racing Fan.

Berta and Scoop Maginness have been coming to Saratoga from Vermont for decades. They're always here on the first day. And it's become tradition for them to get here early and rush to this exact spot.

“We didn't run. But we walked very swiftly and got our spot,” says Berta.

This is a great spot. It has the shade in the morning and it has the shade in the afternoon,” adds Scoop.

On a day like this, it's prime real estate. In the sun, the heat and humidity are absolutely unbearable. Most people were looking for ways to cool off -- snow cones -- water or shade -- but the celebration of the track's 150th anniversary goes on.

NYRA says it is taking all the pre to make sure people and horses are safe.

Ice is available for patrons. As for the horses, there are vets on hand to monitor their health. And every horse gets a cool bath at the winner circle and along the horse path.

“We're trainers. We're professionals. We've done everything for our horses. I'll bet you today goes off without a hitch,” says Gary Contessa, a trainer.