Opening weekend at Saratoga Race Course was an exercise in cognitive dissonance.
No one lined up outside the gates pre-dawn, waiting to get in and snag their preferred picnic table. No one watched morning workouts. No one joined track announcer John Imbriale in the kick-off toast, “They’re off at Saratoga!”
The prestigious Sanford Stakes (G3) for 2-year-olds was scrapped in a revision of the stakes schedule resulting from a nearly three-month racing shutdown because of COVID-19. A Belmont Stakes (G1) prep became a Kentucky Derby (G1) prep when the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) was run on opening day. Instead of hearing the roar of tens of thousand of people when Paris Lights and Crystal Ball fought to the wire in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), all we heard instead, were the snapping fingers and encouraging shouts from the grooms watching their charges trackside.
Welcome to Saratoga 2020, COVID-19 edition.
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