The race-day routine

POSTED ON  |  09-05-2019

Race day routine
You are intimately familiar with your off-track Thoroughbred’s daily routine. You know when he eats, plays, and sleeps—it’s part of the fun of ownership. But what was his routine like at the racetrack? In particular, what regimen did he follow on competition day? Racing is highly regulated to ensure the participants’ safety and to protect those who bet on the horses. The established safeguards mean your horse had to undergo several steps before and after he raced.

Everyday training begins well before dawn, and on normal training days a racehorse gets breakfast and then heads to the track for whatever exercise his trainer deems necessary. But if he is going to compete, he won’t need as much exercise in the morning and he must be available for a pre-race exam.

Sean McCarthy, a trainer on the Southern California circuit, says a horse’s race-day routine is to some extent determined by what time of day he’s racing. Most Thoroughbreds race in the afternoon, but with the first race listed as anywhere from noon to 2 p.m. and a slate of eight to 12 races in a day approximately a half-hour apart, a horse might not compete until 7 p.m. At some tracks Thoroughbreds even compete at night, perhaps not until 10 or 11 p.m. “I usually will give a horse a light breakfast on race day and send him to the track for a little jog in the morning,” says McCarthy.

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