SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Keith Koster was all smiles when a horse aptly named Combat Controller won the third race, a highlight of Wednesday’s Saratoga Race Course Military Appreciation Day festivities.
Koster, the American Legion’s new state vice commander, was one of more than two dozen veterans, from World War II to the War on Terror, who greeted the Javier Castellano-ridden horse in the track’s Winner Circle.
How much did he bet?
“A whopping $2!” said Koster, of Saratoga Springs. “That’s all my wife allows me to bet each race.”
“That’s the last tip you’ll get from me,” joked fellow Legionnaire Dave Lockhart, of Corinth.
For all veterans on hand, the real payoff was the thanks thousands of track patrons showed them throughout the day.
“It’s great,” said county American Legion Commander Ed Burmaster, of Post 490 in Stillwater. “Veterans do a lot for our country. It’s nice when people appreciate us.”
Cpl. Donald Roy, of Long Island, and Sgt. Sergio Castillo, of Tampa, Fla., are part of a West Point color guard that took part in ceremonies.
“This is really nice,” Roy said. “It’s my first time in Saratoga.”
The soldiers and veterans present represented more than 70 years of U.S. military history.
John Moriarty, of Albany, was a P-38 fighter plane crew chief with the 5th Air Force in the Pacific during World War II.
“I was part of the Invasion of Leyte, in October 1944, when (General Douglas) MacArthur arrived in the Philippines,” he said.
Bud Ubare, of VFW Post…
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