By: Liana Bonavita
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- It was relatively quiet when the gates opened at the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga for the first time all season. But while there were few horses to spot and the sun was nowhere in sight, there were still glimpses that summer is just around the corner.
"Today we probably had 20 horses on the track, normally we'll have a couple hundred," said NYRA clocker Bob Hamlin.
The low horse count made Hamlin's job very easy. He didn't even take his stopwatch out of his bag, instead, he was needed today more on a just-in-case basis.
"We have to make sure that as a safety issue if somebody gets dumped from a horse, we have to make sure we get the siren going so that the other riders realize what's going on so they stop their workouts so they don't run into one another," said Hamlin.
There were no loose horses this morning, but there was still enough excitement for Saratoga native Bob Walton, who makes the opening day visit every year.
"We just enjoy it here and there's no better way to bring in spring than to be at the Oklahoma," said Walton.
His friends from Boston - John and Jonna Burns agree.
"We took the ride up mass pike yesterday just to be here for opening day. It just brings a lot of hope and excitement to come, especially this year is the 150th anniversary of Saratoga, we're gearing up, seeing new improvements-- it's like New Year's Day for us when the track opens," said the couple.
Now if you know horse racing at all, you know the name Todd Pletcher. He won Saratoga's training title here last year and about 60 of his horses are expected to be shipped in Monday or Tuesday, so action will pick up at the Oklahoma training track in the coming weeks.