Updated 08/25/2012 11:08 AM
"Running of the Bulls" on Travers Day
We're just hours away from the biggest race of the summer meet at the Saratoga Race Course. The 143rd running of the Travers Stakes takes place Saturday afternoon. Travers Day always starts with an annual tradition, the running of the bulls. Our Beth Croughan was there when the gates opened Saturday morning.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- Ben Diedrich sprinted shoeless up to the gate at Saratoga Race Course. It was part of his strategy to secure the perfect picnic table.
"Run as fast as I can to a set location, its the same spot every year," said Diedrich, a Saratoga resident.
When the clock struck 7:00 a.m., hundreds of diehards were given the chance to stake out a spot.
"Go, go, go from here. Go get the coolers, just go load up," explained Norman King, Saratoga resident.
For these folks, Travers Day starts early. Many fans even gave up a full night of sleep.
"I got here at 1:00 a.m.," said Mike Levo, Endicott resident.
Tom Mebert, a Saratoga resident, added, "I went to bed at 1:00 a.m., got up at 5:30 a.m."
They said it is for tradition though. It starts on the sidewalk, and can now be seen among the sea of table cloths, coolers, and pop up tents.
"You start chatting up people next to you, you find out where they're from, you start talking about different types of stories, and what they're into," explained Mebert.
Another Saratoga resident, Suzanne Wheeler, added, "Its summer in Saratoga, where else would you be?"
"One of the things about Saratoga is, and I personally feel, as a horse racing fan, I compare this with the Yankee Stadium of horse racing. You know, I been here plenty of times, and I still get goosebumps when I show up at the front door," said Greg Bowers, New Jersey resident.
According to a NYRA official, all 500 tables were calimed just five minutes after the gates opened. This is the first year that folks were able to reserve a table in advance. 50 tables were made available for $100 each, with the money going to charity.