Researches may cite this heat wave on global warming, the earth’s axis tipping a few degrees closer to the sun, Voldemort. But it has more to do with Saratoga starting up.

After a few opening days where it rained, it is now quite the other extreme. If not wet, then blistering kidney sweating kind of heat.

Racing, for once, has something else to focus on besides high takeout, video lottery terminals, or jockey Mike Smith's DUI. Smith, quoted by Daily Racing Form, “I was driving on my home road down here, which is dark, and I got pulled over, and I blew a little over. It wasn’t like I was going 100 miles per hour, or being reckless. I was going a little over the limit on my home road.”

WTF! Are you serious? That’s worse than his final ride aboard Zenyatta.
Follwing Twitter on the morning of Opening Day was evidence that racing still has a toe hold on the mountain of American athletics.

New York Times turf writer Joe Drape said, “#Saratoga Race Course: What we needed. Enjoy & good luck everyone on opening day, especially Carl Myers & Aikenite.”

What we needed indeed.

How about this from ThePaper Tyger: “I admit to happy little *chill* when I hear Tom Durkin announce they are off in the first race at #Saratoga”

The only thing that sounds better than that is a burger on a grill.

Again, ThePaper Tyger: "There will be #horseracing at #Saratoga today. That makes the world a little better for the next 40 or so days."

Horse racing always seems to have a blackened eye, some self-inflicted, some by the very nature of its stature. Here are some reasons why you should be happy to love this game.

1. There’s no lock out

Sure, horse racing is laced greed, but when were the horses ever locked out? The show goes on and there’s not a dispute the likes of which we are seeing with this NFL labor situation.

Now, I love football, but the players need to ensure that their butts are covered for the next ten years, twenty years, etc. As more and more research comes out about head injuries, from acute and chronic contact, these guys will be drooling on their the heads of their grandkids—if they live long enough.

2. The CCAO

The Coaching Club American Oaks may be the Breeders’ Cup Distaff restricted to Three-Year-Old Fillies. The winner of the Kentucky Oaks, Black-eyed Susan, Acorn, Mother Goose, and Fantasy enter the gate together. The field contains only these five winners, which makes it a bad betting race, but a great throwdown that will be fun to watch, if that’s any consolation.

Royal Delta, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Bill Mott, missed training due to a foot bruise. But is unlikely to show a lack of conditioning.

“I don’t think it will be that much of a disadvantage,” said Mott. “This distance wasn’t an issue last time, and I think being fresh could be an advantage not for this one, but maybe for the [TVG] Alabama [Grade 1, Saratoga , August 20].”

3. Escapism

Saratoga and Del Mar possess an allure that get us to focus on what’s good, for a change. Which isn’t to say that issues should be ignored, but when issues arise, like Mike Smith’s nonchalance, the CCAO is there to pick up the slack. When the talk of race day medication bogs you down, there’s the Jim Dandy to kick up your heels.

I mean, where can you spill water on yourself and be happy about it?

Says Andrew Mangini, “My cooler leaked cold water all over my shirt. And it feels fantastic.”

Brendan O'Meara is the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year. It is available for at SUNY Press. Read about narrative nonfiction at The Blog Itself, more horse racing at The Carryover Classic, follow him on Twitter, or "like" his book on Facebook. His website is