Before we left the grandstand for our tour of the racecourse with Gina, we watched the first race.
There weren’t very many spectators sitting in the grandstand, but just before the first race a group of people filed in and sat down in front of us. They were a well-dressed and lively crowd, and when the race started the kids among them began cheering wildly. After the race, they all got up and left, leaving the grandstand empty except for our group. I imagine that they were a family that had invested in one of the horses, and that they came that day to see how well it would run.
Races were spaced out throughout the day, so there was no incentive to remain in the grandstand until the start of the next race.
Gina took us downstairs and showed us the weighing room, where the jockeys weigh in before hopping on their horses. She explained the importance of monitoring each jockey’s weight and the weight of the jockey’s saddle.
Pound for pound, Gina said, jockeys are the greatest athletes in the world. After a few years, most jockeys get weary of the strict diet that they have to follow. At that point, they have to decide whether they want to continue in that career.
Gina showed us an ultralight saddle that some jockeys like to use. It doesn’t provide any comfort during the high speed, bumpy horseback ride. Ow!
Before a jockey gets on a horse, the animal is brought out of its stable and walked. Gina took us into a restricted area where we saw horse trainers and their assistants walking the horses around in circles.
The jockey in this picture has been weighed and his horse is ready. On to the racetrack!
Coming up: A stageside view of the starting gate.
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