Thousands of people milling. Cigar smoke wafting through the air. Women wearing heels. Men wearing ties. A fan rides through the crowd on his cooler. Horses dance into the paddock, onto the track.
The sun rises and sets on the 152nd Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course. And Opening Day offered a little bit of everything - big crowd, big upsets, tornado warning, and even a fallen tree that crushed half a dozen cars on the backstretch.
The historic racetrack welcomed 34,783 paid attendees that stretched across the backyard in lawn chairs and on picnic tables, lined the paddock, took up residence in the grandstand and filled the clubhouse.
Some came to enjoy the company of friends. Others came to try and make a few bucks. No matter the reason, all came to share in the tradition of Thoroughbred racing that has extended for decades at Saratoga.
Trainer Leah Gyarmati rang in the new season with a win by Sea Raven in the opener - a 1 1/8-mile allowance-optional for New York-breds.
"Sure, of course it's exciting to win the first race," Gyarmati said. "Everyone's watching, everybody's here. It's the only time I'm going to be leading trainer at this meet, so I have 30 minutes of glory - I'm going to enjoy it."
Sea Raven broke slowly and went straight to the back of the pack, while Fox Rules led the charge early. Sea Raven, ridden by John Velazquez, crept up on the group as they rounded the far turn and pulled ahead of Royal Posse to win for Gunpowder Farms.
To read more about Opening Day at Saratoga, download Saturday's digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.