Monday, October 21, 2013

A Day at the Races

Have you ever been to the horse races?  It is SO FUN!!!!

watching. waiting. hoping for a win, place or show. #abrlive #americasbestracing #santaanitapark
Our friendly box-seat neighbor.  Nice guy.  
Actually everyone we spoke with at the races was REALLY nice.

I have been to the horse races a few times.  The first horse race I ever attended was at Hollywood Park a few years back, and the other times have been at Santa Anita Park

Jose Contreras of America's Best Racing invited me and my boyfriend to attend the races at Santa Anita Park over the weekend.  We had such a great time!  Perfect weather, outstanding seats, delicious food & drink, a $50 betting voucher, plus people watching galore. And, of course, the opportunity to see AMAZING horses competing for the win.

The horse races make for a fun day.  Really fun.  And it is pretty affordable if you don't go crazy with the betting. 

Here are a few of the pics I took while at the races.  

Gorgeous day at Santa Anita Park :)

Kayla Stra and Sir Hamilton #santaanitapark #ABRLive
Kayla Stra -- a female jockey!  

Place your bets.  I usually go by color or name. :) #santaanitapark #abrlive #americasbestracing

Agapito Delgadillo #santaanitapark #abrlive #americasbestracing
Agapito Delgadillo, Jose Contreras' father-in-law

tense #santaanitapark #abrlive #americasbestracing
TENSE.  Not sure how much this guy bet, but he sure looked tense watching the race.

Santa Anita Park

place your bets

I got to pet a horse!!!!
Next time I will bring carrots so that I can hopefully give a horse or two a tasty treat.  :)

Santa Anita Park
Two-stepping.  Or something.

loving the people watching today #cowboy #santaanitapark #abrlive #americasbestracing

Club House, Santa Anita Park, drollgirl

The races are very exciting.  Very intense.  Programs provide information on each race -- names/descriptions and odds for horses, jockey information, race time/length, etc.  Betting is optional, and you can keep your bets low if you decide to bet (we went with $2 bets -- we weren't exactly HIGH ROLLERS, lol).

Next time I attend the races, I hope to bring my nieces. This one -- Kira -- has been taking horse-riding lessons and I think she would love it.  :)

(my sister took this pic)

(my sister took this pic)

Thank you again for the fabulous day, Jose!

Side note:  Being a huge animal lover, and knowing next to nothing about horses, every time I have been at the horse races I have been concerned about the horses.  Do they like it?  Do they hate it?  How are they treated?  I asked Jose about this. He basically said the horses are bred and trained to be winners. They are treated very well -- very, very well. Most of them love competing. Some are temperamental and only want to race if they can win. I was happy to hear this, but I also took a look at this on-line forum to see what others had to say on the topic.

from JSC
It's a fact that most horses enjoy competing. They are bred and trained to run competitively, and a horse's spirit and will to win is an important element in the making of a champion. Some horses can't stand to to be behind, and will always try to be in front. Others race best when coming from behind like Zenyatta. These aren't traits you would see if the horses were only running because of the whip. There are even recorded cases of race horses continuing to run in a race, even with injuries. There's at least one case where the jockey fell off his horse and the horse finished the race anyhow; of course, best not to attempt this. Keep in mind the jockey's "whip" is more a tool than anything else, and is generally used very judiciously.

Even when horses are running together in the open, you'll see that there is clearly often a sense of competition between them, and racing seem to be as much in the form of play as is their instinct.

from Winter H
I've broke, ridden, and trained hundreds of thoroughbreds, and for the most part, they are competitive and love to run. The jockeys use their whips judiciously, for they can be fined for misuse. The horse responds to the whip as an encouragement -- it is not punishment. Some horses actually stop if you hit them, so the jockey has to put in a strong hand to ride. A lot of times after my horses work out, they come home prancing and showing off. They will even play on the walker, they feel so good. Most athletes enjoy using their bodies in whatever sport they are into -- the adrenaline, the rush..,etc..horses are no different. Keep watching and enjoying in good conscience.

from Sandra S.
First, many changes have been made, that should make us all feel better about whips/crops. And, in the near future I believe any type of use will be banned altogether, it' just a matter of time. :)

Last year three states - Kentucky, Indiana, and South Dakota - have mandated use of the new, more horse-friendly whips. California has a proposed state rule, and jockeys there already are riding with new crops, a change mandated by Del Mar and Hollywood Park racetracks. Santa Anita, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park, and Philadelphia Park have "house rules" requiring the use of new crops. In New York, jockeys at the Saratoga meet took the lead, electing to use new whips. New whips are fully in use or being phased into tracks operated by Churchill Downs Inc. Canadian venues require new whips, and stewards there scrutinize the number of times jockeys strike their horses, handing out fines for overuse of the crop.

The new equipment feels and works differently than the old. The popper on the end of a traditional riding crop is about two inches long and made of solid leather. Used too vigorously, it can raise welts and draw blood. Not so the new whips, which are tipped by a popper about six inches long. Sewn inside a soft pad of woven fibers made to look like leather is a piece of foam. When it strikes horseflesh, the lighter, thickly padded whips make an impressive pop while delivering their cushioned message.

Second, yes, horses love to run, and I know for a fact that the horses that race, including Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, are treated extremely well.... I, as many, love their horses and follow through with their love, care and safety throughout their lives, and get back that love from their horses. I can't speak for those who don't care and shame on them. I feel the work horses on farms are the ones that are treated cruelly.  It's heart breaking, for many to most are very thin, malnurished, sick, and have many diseases since they never get the proper care, food, shoes, etc. Those are the people that need to be looked at. The horse racing industry has made many changes over the years to make the sport one to be proud of. Many give their hard earned money and time to change rules and conditions to make it safer and safer for these animals who love to run. We all, including horses, get hurt at some point, but bounce back if it was meant to be. Everyone and everything should enjoy life to it's fullest with the least amount of cruelty as possible..Thanks for sharing your concerns and allowing me to share my feelings and facts. I hope that I helped by answering your questions, and eased your concerns.

from Outlawtaz
To start, the crops are used to communicate with the horse what your intentions are. Each side of the body and the shoulder or the hip all mean different things. Remember, race horses are trained to push into the bit, so it is hard to communicate using the reins when they are held tight. Also, if you watch a jockey it becomes obvious that foot and leg signals are hard to do a full gallop. Hence, the use of the crop.

Now, do race horses like to run? HELL YES!!!!!! I have a retired mare that has not been on the track in over 4 years. Sometimes, I need to move from field to field or give her some exercise and she will literally start prancing while I am leading her; just like in the post parade on the track. She walks to the extent of the lead in front of me and does that real springy walk. It gets really bad when I get out the bridle and exercise saddle. She knows she is going to get to run a little and she can't wait.

Additionally, some of the retired horses have to be brought back to the track because they do not like just being put out to pasture. Biggest example is Funny Cide. He was retired and allowed to relax. Once he relaxed for while, his trainer took him back to the track to be a pony horse because he did not like being a pasture pal. Unfortunately, he has some soreness issues so he is forced to stay retired and has been moved to Kentucky Horse Park for all his fans to enjoy him.

Thoughts on this?


Felicia said...

I LOVE the B&W pic of the fountain w/the man two-stepping and of your cutie niece of course! My friend grew up on a farm where horse owners boarded their horses and yes, they are treated very, very well. I took horseback riding as my PE credit in college (AHAHAHAHAHA) and I laugh but it was INTENSE. Our instructor was VERY SERIOUS about it too, probably because he was so passionate about the horses. It was terrifying but such a unique experience (and not easy on your thighs either, HAHAHAHA!)

Kathy @ Vodka and Soda said...

i've only been to the races once when my dad took me and he actually won the triactor which means that all 3 horses he bet on won which meant that he was rolling in the dough. that was awesome and i screamed so loud when he whispered it in my ear.

Vodka and Soda

Lorena said...

I went once. I thought it was ok, but not that good to actually go back.
I always laugh at the horses names though, here they call them: Justin Bieber, Old wife...

Caroline said... all these shots!!! Every single one!

E said...

They are competitive little buggers (I have a retired one) and they get very upset when they lose! Secretariat actually pouted in the corner of his stall when he lost a race. I'm so jealous you went to Santa Anita - that's a pretty one! So yes, the horses you saw were probably treated very very well and then will probably be spoiled rotten by suckers like me when they retire. Unfortunately I don't think the same can be said for sketchier racetracks, but I do know NTRA and many of the racing organizations are working very hard to enforce regulations to prevent animals from being mistreated (or the gov't will step and do it for them).

E said...

PS Kira is adorbs and I want her belt buckle.

Trissta said...

First, your pictures never fail to amaze me. I LOVE your pictures. I so love all of your different views on things.

I just competed in my first equestrian show this weekend, and I have to tell you that riding a horse is so much more than what it's cracked up to be. You have to steer the horse with your legs and work on training with that kind of thing. However, when you're RUNNING on a horse... that kind of control can't really happen. Seriously. It's hard, and you want to stay off the horses's face and off the bit, because it's more harm than help in the situation. So, in that case, I can see the need and use of the crop to help communicate to the horse. There are some very illy trained jockeys and riders who don't know how to use them and shouldn't be allowed to ride in such events. But, easier said than done. Sigh. Anyways. That's what I think. Lol.

Much Love,