COLLINSVILLE, IL (KPLR)-- Fairmount Park opens for its 2013 season Friday night. But, last weekend`s snowstorm had staff scrambling to get the track dry and safe for thoroughbred horse racing.
Workers were cleaning just about every surface.
'We`ve been running continuously since 1926,' said park spokesperson Jon Sloan. 'It`s our 87th season.'
Trainers put majestic horses through drills on the tracks, over and over again.
'I think everybody`s excited,' said veteran trainer Eddie Essenpreis. 'We haven`t had a chance to run since August.'
Racing is back for Opening Day. Fans claimed their seats early. But, the season got started a little late.
'Well, we were certainly disappointed that the track conditions, due to the blizzard did not allow us to open up the track on our scheduled opening day this last Tuesday.' Sloane explained.
The snow and ice had to go. Then the track had to dry out for any races here. Otherwise, racing would simply be too dangerous for the horses.
'They weigh well over a thousand, 1,500 pounds,' Sloane explained. 'And yet if you seen, they have ankles about the size of a fist.'
He said workers, and the sun, melted a lot of the snow and ice.
'You hear about football players complaining about artificial turf being too hard,' Sloan said. 'Much more dangerous for thoroughbreds.'
Friday morning, the soil on the track was softer than Play-Doh, and it was also a lot safer for horses to race since the ice was gone.
'We weren`t working around the clock,' Sloane said. 'But, we were working very long days to get the whole thing done. We got it done. But, it was three really long and hard days.'
Finally, staff could get about the business of fun for yet another day at the races.
The track opens every Friday at 7:30 p.m. and every Tuesday at 1 p.m. After Derby Day on May 4, 2013, the track will also open on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
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