COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – There are some traditions that have a distinct sound. Like, say, horse racing and Tuesday afternoon’s start of the 97th season at FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.

“June 15, we start picking up Friday night racing,” said Melissa Helton, president and general manager at the track. “So, right now, our card is Tuesdays with a 1 o’clock post time and Saturdays with a 7:30 post time.”

With temperatures in the upper-50s, Horse Hooky Tuesdays returned at FanDuel with an impressive crowd. It’s the first racing season with spectators in the stands since the pandemic began.

“I think it’s the excitement and it’s the first race of the season, and it’s just great being here,” said Carolyn Schlueter, Miss Missouri Senior America.

But it’s not just hooves hitting the dirt track, it’s the sights and sounds that make this sport stand out.

“I’m picking on the jockey and the name, of course, and that’s it,” said bettor Bren Prindable. “Not looking at numbers or anything. Just name of horse and the jockey.”

“And I’m betting the opposite of what she picks, and I lose every time,” Josh Grisa countered.

“Call it a dance between equine and human,” said Peter Lurie, Horse Racing TV host. “When you see a horse running, and the rider and the horse are in sync, it’s pretty obvious.”

And if that’s not enough to excite the crowd, then consider journeywoman jockey like 62-year-old Kim Sampson.

“Health and fitness. You can’t let your body go and there were times I let my body go and it wasn’t good. You just gotta stay young. Never think you’re too old to do anything. And that makes me feel good,” she said.

Why does Sampson keep racing?

“Because I can. It’s an opportunity and I enjoy my mornings here at the track and, thank God, through COVID and all that. I would have been going crazy if I didn’t have the horses at the racetrack.”

The racing season continues until September 15.