Harness racing resumes in Saratoga Springs
There's lots of excitement at the raceway in Saratoga as horses return to the track. Harness racing had been down for nearly three weeks after an outbreak of an equine respiratory infection. C.J. Spang reports.
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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Officials are busy drawing post positions for races - a sign that harness racing is back following an outbreak of strangles.
"We're all very excited," said Saratoga Casino and Raceway Director of Racing Operations John Mazaratto. "We've got a lot of people that have been really looking forward to getting back going. Especially since we had such a great start to our meet."
The equine respiratory infection stopped live racing since March 23. Officials say the outbreak was quickly contained, but all horses at the raceway must now provide verification of health. Horsemen say the lost racing days cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"It's been pretty tough," said Cynthia Milano. "I own horses myself. I train publicly. Financially it's hard not racing. The horses still need to eat and the owners still need to pay bills so it sort of hurts everybody."
The State Racing and Wagering Board will allow the Raceway to make up the 10 lost days of racing and officials say that will happen in May and June. Horsemen say they're excited to get back to racing.
"Everybody is thrilled," said Saratoga Harness Horsepersons Association President Barry Siegel. "We were only for two weeks and then were shut down. Everyone was psyched five weeks and now everyone is psyched to get back at it."
There are many more days of harness racing ahead as the season runs through the middle of December.