Trainers taking extra precautions to protect horses in hot conditions

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – This week at the Saratoga Race Course, the focus has been on keeping the stars of the show as cool and comfortable as possible.

On the backstretch of the track at Saratoga Race Course, trainers are paying close attention to the horses in this extreme heat.

Before and after the horse's race, they are hosed down with cool water.  Trainers also will dump ice on the horses head to give them instant relief from the heat immediately following a race.

When they're back at the stables they're kept in the shade with fans on and ventilation windows open to keep the horses at a comfortable temperature.  According to thermometers set inside the stables to monitor the heat, it's only 80 degrees compared to the schorching 90s outside the stables.

“Well I really think the horses are okay.  It is very warm.  But the fact that it's been warm for several days it gives the horses an opportunity to acclimate, they're very well-conditioned, horses,” said NYRA Racing Analyst Richard Miguore.

Paul Holthus has spent his entire life around horses and was certified as a trainer when was 18.  He said these horses are like family.

“There's nothing like it, anytime, it's not like going to work you know, you're getting to do something you love every day, and a lot of people don't understand it”

That's why ensuring the horses are able to beat the heat on this hot opening day is essential.

“Take precautions as similar as a person, make sure their electrolytes and fluids are kept up everyday, whenever they're racing in summer weather.”

Trainers are still keeping an eye out for signs of exhaustion.

“They get a little bit clumsy, they're not putting their feet down as precise as they normally might,” said Miguore.

That's why caution is key, and for third generation horse trainer Paul Holthus — the love he has for his horses is what drives him to ensure they are well taken care of.

“These horses are worth hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there would be no way that anyone would put them in jeopardy,” he said.

He added that if a horse looks exhausted, it will be pulled from the race to keep it safe.

“There have been days in the past where they have to
use good judgment and they've canceled races. 
Depending on the heat, when it gets to 100, 105 degrees and it's just a
stagnant kind if heat.  On days like
today for opening day, it was 90 it was hot but with the breeze, I think it was
safe for them to run,” said trainer Carlos Martin.

Experts tell NEWS10 the consistent 90 degree days actually
helped get the horses acclimated and prepared for race day.


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