Racing fans wait all year for it to kick off in July, but after Monday's final race, the 2013 Saratoga meet will be a thing of the past. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on the big task of packing up and moving south to Belmont.
SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- Sunday was moving day at Tony Dutrow's barn behind the Oklahoma Training Track.
This summer, the longtime trainer stabled 15 horses at Saratoga, getting a half dozen winners in the process. After morning training hours wrapped up, the few that were left were loaded on a van and sent south.
"Actually, we're going back to Fair Hill in Maryland. There's a big training center there," Dutrow said. "We'll join in New York later on this fall."
With the sun setting on Saratoga, Dutrow is hardly alone. Many backstretch stalls are already empty.
James Bond's private barn on Gridley Street is one of the few where runners will stay put through the fall.
"It's kind of nice. All the traffic leaves, a few of the restaurants are open, things are quiet," said Bond, who also keeps a team of horses in Sunday. "It's a great fall here."
Joining the horses on their southern migration are nearly 300 year-round NYRA employees , not to mention four tractor trailer loads of equipment, all of it needing to be in place before Saturday's Belmont Park opening day.
"The people are easy to move," NYRA communications director Eric Wing said. "It's the stuff that's not as easy to move."
With Saratoga's roots 150 years deep, many have made this move before, making the labor a little less tiring but the feeling bittersweet.
"It's always a little sad leaving Saratoga, mainly because you know it's about ten-and-a-half months before we get to come back," Wing said.
"It may be the brightest spot in horse racing today," Dutrow said. "A lot of people are in horse racing so they can enjoy Saratoga, so absolutely it's sad to leave here."
Monday's $300,000 Grade 1 Hopeful for two-year-olds marks the final stakes race of the Saratoga meet. All proceeds from admissions will be donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.