Tuesday, June 16, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS — A loose moose was too early to get a bobblehead and couldn’t find a picnic table near the Big Red Spring.

But the wayward animal created quite a stir by camping out inside the main gate at Saratoga Race Course on Monday where dozens of spectators showed up to catch a glimpse of the 1-1/2-year-old “filly” before she was finally returned to the wild.

Her memorable outing apparently included a night on the town, because she was spotted running south on Broadway at about 3:45 a.m. Monday, before heading to Siro’s Restaurant, where she couldn’t get dinner, but was admitted to the track where officials corralled her before administering a tranquilizer dart shortly before noon.

“My girlfriend lives in Vermont,” Saratoga Springs resident Lucas DeFiores said. “I literally told her two days ago I wanted to see a moose. So here I am at the track. I kind of want to see it race.”

“I wonder if she could beat the horses,” city police officer Scott Johnson said. “It would be a heckuva race. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve never been on moose duty before.”

The animal was first seen by the Waters family on Sodeman Road in Greenfield at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

“We were thrilled,” Kim Waters said. “The moose stayed for a while then left.”

On its way to Saratoga Springs, it’s believed the animal was clipped by a passing vehicle on Route 29, just west of the city, but suffered only superficial injuries. It was sighted on Broadway, just south of Lake Avenue, then showed up at Siro’s at about 6:20 a.m. An hour later, New York Racing Association security, working with state conservation officers and city police, opened the track’s Lincoln Avenue gate so the animal could be kept in a controlled environment.

The drama took a long time to play out because special tranquilizer had to be brought down from Department of Environmental Conservation offices in Ray Brook, near Lake Placid. Also, a moose trailer was hauled up from Delmar, below Albany.

Shortly after 11: 30 a.m. the moose was sedated with a tranquilizer gun.

The animal was transported to state land near Lake Desolation on the border of Greenfield and Providence.

At 11:37 a.m., the first dart hit the moose in a muscular area just above the left leg. The animal walked along the Union Avenue fence line, dropped to its knees opposite the National Museum of Racing, got back up and headed back toward the main gate.

A second dart hit the moose’s right shoulder at noon and 10 minutes later the drug took full effect as the animal laid down and went to sleep.

After covering its eyes with a dark green hood and hosing the moose down to relieve stress, it took 12 people to lift the 500-pound animal onto a canvas stretcher and move it to an awaiting trailer.

The animal was transported to state land near Lake Desolation on the border of Greenfield and Providence. “There’s already a population of 10 to 12 moose that lives there right now,” said environmental conservation officer James Service of Wilton. “This ended quite well. She’s very lucky.”

As much as she might want to be the next Rachel Alexandra, for now the young moose will have to content herself with living in the wild.

“We had to inform her that at the moment we can only conduct thoroughbred racing,” NYRA spokesman Dan Silver said.

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