It’s hot in Saratoga

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was hot on Wednesday. Thursday will be warmer.

If you’re planning on spending a day at the Saratoga Racetrack on Thursday, remember that it’s hot. And it will stay on all day.

“It’s going to be uncomfortable,” Dan Thompson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany, said Wednesday. “There’s no other way to put it.”

A 10-race card is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. and officials will be keeping tabs on rising temperatures and, more importantly, the heat index.

According to heat management protocols established by New York State Gaming Commission Equine Medical Director Dr. Scott Palmer, if a heat index – a calculation that takes into consideration temperature, humidity and wind speed – reached 105″, your racetrack veterinarian should contact the marshals or judges and track management to alert them to the presence of hazardous weather conditions.”

Then there would be a discussion on whether or not to continue the race.

Thompson said Wednesday the National Weather Service forecast the heat index to be 103 at press time and could reach 107 in the afternoon. An excessive heat warning is in effect from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.


During Wednesday’s 10-race map, the highest heat index was 103. The heat index is available at the on-track weather station and is updated regularly.

The last time races were canceled at Saratoga due to blistering heat was Saturday, July 20, 2019. The New York Racing Association announced the cancellation of this card two days prior.

Thursday’s forecast, while warm, is not expected to be as stark as that day when the heat index was near 110.

On Wednesday morning, trainers were also making sure their horses were hydrated. The fans were in front of each stand and the coaches are extra careful.

Hall of Fame coach Mark Casse is used to warm weather as he has a training facility in Ocala, Florida. Saffie Joseph Jr. spends most of the year at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

“It’s cool weather for us,” he said with a laugh on Wednesday morning.

A sure sign that a horse is doing well in the heat is if it is sweating.

“The important thing is that they sweat properly,” Joseph said. “If a horse sweats, it’s his cooling system. If the horse isn’t a good sweater, the heat will bother him. Once a horse sweats well, the heat is fine with him.”

After Wednesday’s races, the horses were watered outside the winner’s circle before being returned to their barns. There were no incidents.

The horses do their training in the morning. Although it was hot, it was not uncomfortable.

“I tend not to train them as hard or not as hard,” Casse said of the heat. “Most of (his) horses here, they would never have to train. They could just walk for a week and race. They are ready.”

Brad Cox, who has Travers’ favorite Essential Quality in his barn, also watches the weather. If it’s supposed to be hot, he might send horses earlier. If he sees a horse that’s not doing well in hot weather, he’ll keep it in the barn. The horses he has in Saratoga aren’t new to heat exposure.

They spend much of the year in Kentucky where temperatures often rise.

“It’s warmer in Kentucky,” he said. “I think I’m like a horse. I prefer cooler weather.”

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