Tuesday, May 14, 2013

KEENLAND RACE TRACK DAY 2

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Yesterday, we concentrated on the barns at Keeneland Race Track, the workers washing, walking and prepping their animals. We met owner/trainer Greg Burchell and the type of affection and dedication you see among horses and their humans. Above a beautiful, graceful animal with two hundred years of breeding and pedigree enters the track. Follow along with us and watch through our lens.
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Notice two different types of saddles. The trainer has a conventional saddle, the exerciser behind him, has a light weight, practically bareback saddle. Trainers often ride a different breed of horse while training. They amble onto the track and discuss what expensive, precious horse needs to focus on.
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The exercisers cantor and post around the track until the horse is warmed up.
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The position of the feet is high on the saddle. The rider is positioned as though sitting in a chair.
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Then they get moving.
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Then they get moving a bit faster.
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There is a good bit of camaraderie among the exercisers, but for the most part, it is a solitary task between horse and human.
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Grace on the move. This rider carries a short whip and may be training her charge to the whip, though we watched and didn’t see her use it.
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At times the exercisers work together, imitating a race.
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Of course, what we like to see is those special moments when the horses are hell-bent for leather, but our cameras and our skills at photographing fast moving objects are somewhat limited but I got a few credible moments.
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The trouble is, if you catch the horse just gathering for the next lengthening of those legs, it looks like he is going to land on his bent ankles or toss his rider in some other pictures I took.
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They’re flying.
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We walked and took pictures the length of the track. This is right in front of the grandstand. It was hard to leave, so fun and such beautiful horses.
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We did though. We ran into Jim Cornes, an animal physical therapist. A much-needed guy on a race track. I asked him how he got interested in healing horses and he said his mother took him to Saratoga Race Track to watch the races. He was young and small and thought he’d like to be a jockey. His mother read all the horror stories about jockey injuries and kept discouraging any thought of it until she began to realize how much money they make. But, then he grew about two feet and the point was moot. He is addicted to the race track atmosphere, the horses the excitement. Can’t beat that if you love your job.
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There is always an equine ambulance near the track, even during everyday exercises and training. It lowers at the back like a moving van.
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Jim and I wandered into the grandstand and looked around. No racing now, so everything is empty.
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A one minute lesson on how it is done.
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People come here to bet the races from all over the country and watch from these television screens. This is called simulcasting. It is very popular and it would have been nice to mingle with the crowds. Maybe another track someday.
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A beautiful building.
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Like an ivy covered college.
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Two-hundred pound cement jockies carry the colors for the racers for that day so a bettor can identify his horse from the color of his “silks” from the worst, and highest seat in the grandstand.
We had a wonderful time at the track. Very cool!

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