With the sun shining and the trees putting on the annual fall color show on the far side of the backstretch, snipers lined up behind the tote board, rifles pointed toward the grandstand roof -- just in case -- during opening ceremonies.
Reporters carrying computer cases into the racetrack paused for inspection by security personnel.
Before New York Police Officer Carl Dixon sang the national anthem, bagpipers did a mournful rendition of "Amazing Grace," the jockeys on Saturday's card lined up with U.S. flags and flags representing their nations of birth, and then ran down part of the turf course to present flags to the police officers on hand to commemorate the deaths of colleagues who died in the aftermath of the attacks. Before the final race, Dixon made a return appearance, singing, "God Bless America."
Another first: fireworks punctuated the end of the "Star Spangled Banner," spooking the NYPD mounted unit. One of the riders lost was unseated.
Jockeys Jerry Bailey and Pat Day each picked up a 12th Breeders' Cup win. Day's win came in the Mile and Bailey's in the Sprint.
The day started badly with one of the favorites in the Distaff, Exogenous, spooking as the horses were being led onto the track. She flipped on her back, struck her head and got her right rear leg caught in the fence.
Vets immediately gave her steroids to help with any brain swelling and sedated her before hustling her by ambulance to the barn area. She was scratched from the race but was up within a half hour.
Jump Start suffered a displaced lateral condylar fracture to the left front fetlock joint in the Juvenile. Veterinarian C. Wayne McIlwraith said the injury does not appear life-threatening but will need surgery -- probably as early as Sunday.
NTRA Charities picked up about $2 million for the New York Heroes Fund, with contributions from the likes of Godolphin Stables and jockeys Pat Day and Chris McCarron.
Eleven fans held winning Pick 6 tickets, one of them on track, worth $262,442.
There were two races before the Breeders' Cup card got under way.
Graeme Hall won the $100,000 Grade III I Love New York Stuyvesant Handicap, taking off at the top of the stretch after a late start to outrun Country Be Gold by 6 ¼ lengths. Cat's At Home came in third in the six-horse field. Trainer Todd Pletcher was pleasantly surprised at Graeme Hall's performance. "Looking back, his two races at Churchill Downs were pretty bad," he said. Next stop: "possibly the Cigar Mile (at Aqueduct Nov. 24) or the Queens County (at Aqueduct, Dec. 1)," Pletcher added. Graeme Hall paid $3.70, $2.50 and $2.10; Country Be Gold, $3 and $2.40, and Cat's At Home, $3.20. A $2 Exacta paid $11.80. It was jockey John Velazquez' third Stuyvesant victory.
Yonaguska swept around the leaders to win the $100,000 Grade III New York Lottery Sport Page Handicap. "Wish we could have been in the (Breeders' Cup) Sprint," quipped trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Silky Sweep was second by 1 ½ lengths and Big E E was third. Yonaguska paid $5.10, $3.40 and $2.50; Silky Sweep, $5.70 and $3.70; and Big E E, $4. The $2 Exacta paid $27.20.
Attendance was 52,987.