Thursday July 27, 2000: Day 2, Part 1 - Kentucky Horse CenterSome of these pix were worth saving in larger sizes - click on any pic with a border around it to view a large 640x480 view.
I visited the Kentucky Horse Center this morning. They have tours daily. I went to the 9am tour, which was a good time to go as it was fairly cool, and lots of horses were working out on the track. The KHC can house up to 800 horses, and 786 are currently in residence. The main barns hold 300 horses each. We didn't tour those, just drove by... they looked dark and unpleasant though. Racehorse factories...
The KHC is a 248 acre complex, with two dirt tracks - an upper 7/8 mile track and lower, inner 5/8 mile track. During the summer they use the innner track for late morning workouts, supposedly because it's cooler there. Workouts are usually over by noon.
In this pic you can see some of the KHC's smaller barns in the distance, and the smaller 5/8mi. track in the infield area of the main track.
We saw a good 15 or more horses working out on the main track. Horses' workouts typically only last between 10-30 minutes. An excercise rider often rides 5-6 horses a day, to perhaps as many as 20 a day.
We met Mike Cameron, an owner/trainer renting one of the separate smaller barns on the property. He owns 28 horses. Or part-owns... he said he usually retains 50% ownership and sells shares of the rest, to people like us (tourists, horse fans, etc). The typical share price can be $2000 up front and $7/day to support the cost of the horse's upkeep and training. I suppose that's a lot, but then you also get to share in the winnings if the horse wins races.
Here's a pic of one of Mike's horses, Sultry Mood - a bay 4-yr-old gelding. He's just back from a workout, as you can see from the veins standing out on his skin.
Some interesting facts:
- A horse's chestnuts are distinct for every horse (the same way fingerprints are for people)
- The phrase "I'm gonna get your goat" comes from the horse world - before a big race, some barns would steal other barns' goats (the goat being around to calm down the horses)
- Tobacco (Kentucky's other major industry) used to be used as a dewormer for horses
- Exercise riders wear helmets and kevlar-padded (bulletproof) vests while riding.
- Keeneland race course pays over $1.2 million dollars in purses every day during racing season
- Mr. Prospector's stud fee, before he died: $700,000
- There are lots of double-fences in the bluegrass area. The reason for this is, a horse could possibly jump the inner fence, but the 2nd fence is too short a distance for him to physically jump both.
I went over to the Holiday Inn afterwards, to drop off my two Equilith Awards entries. Took a few photos of the Peter Stone stuff:
Malachite and Tiger's Eye, with pendants
PS Raffle Horse - a lovely medium bay Arabian
Picture of the PS Cord & Co. booth in the HIN ballroom
Tonight there'll be more room sales, a stampede at Tom Bainbridge's room, and the PS reception/equilith awards preview. More news and pix later. :)
-- J. Kira Hamilton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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