SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Due to a forecast that calls for excessive heat, Saturday’s 11-race card at Saratoga has been canceled, the New York Racing Association announced Thursday.
Saturday’s races will be moved to Sunday. The 13-race card will also include the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Stakes as well as a steeplechase race that was canceled from Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, an excessive heat watch is in effect for northern Saratoga County on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. The heat index could be as high as 107, according to the NWS.
According to heat management protocols provided by the New York State Gaming Commission equine medical director Dr. Scott Palmer, if the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration heat index reaches 105, that presents dangerous weather conditions.
Those protocols state that if such conditions persist “the track veterinarians, stewards or judges, horsemen’s organizations and racetrack management should seek to cancel racing if local conditions are considered dangerous for horses and riders/drivers.”
“Working in consultation with [New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association] and following the recommendations of Dr. Palmer, we are canceling Saturday’s card in the best interests of the safety of our equine athletes and horsemen,” NYRA president and CEO David O’Rourke said in a press release. “Assessing the safety of racing conditions, including weather, racing surfaces and raceday scrutiny, is of the utmost importance to NYRA and our industry partners.
Trainer Chad Brown, who had horses entered in nine of the 11 races scheduled for Saturday, applauded the decision to simply move the card to Sunday.
“I think it’s a great idea. I’m happy they moved the card just to be safe for all the horses and all the staff working with them and leave everything intact the way it was,” Brown said. “If you dismantle the card and try to move races around it becomes extremely complicated. For all the owners to see their horses they can stay an extra day. With all the time and money they’ve invested to come for the weekend, I think that’s a very important factor.”
The last time NYRA canceled a Saratoga card due to heat was on Aug. 2, 2006, a Wednesday. On Aug. 28, 2011, NYRA canceled a Sunday program due to the remnants of Hurricane Irene. The final six races on a Saturday, Aug. 13, 2006 card was canceled due to storms.
Training will be permitted Saturday morning from 5 to 9:30 a.m.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.