For the last eight years my springtime was an expectant
season, a countdown to the annual meet at Saratoga Race Course. This year I
find myself in the city, home of Belmont Park, aka The Big Sandy,* experiencing
a whole new springtime tradition.
With some horses—and people—shipping in from
Florida and others shipping out to Saratoga, there’s no lack of bustling about
the four-hundred-plus-acre park. This week has been particularly busy as the
anticipation ends tomorrow: first post of the meet is at 12:50 p.m.
It’s the first time I’m participating on the backstretch in any
significant way at Belmont and in preparation for the meet I’ve tried to be as
helpful as I can.
I’ve helped turned these stalls . . .
into these . . .
. . . with all the screw eyes and straw-shaking which that required.
I’ve spent about a week walking hots until local help could be
found (suffering only one blister, I might add). My calculations with pedometer
and stopwatch have resulted in the following statistics:
- It takes an average
of 2 minutes to walk the whole shedrow (of the above barn)
- In 30 minutes of
walking a horse one walks the shedrow about 15 times
- The shedrow
measures approximately 109 yards or 327 feet
- In 15 times around
the shedrow with one horse, one walks approximately 1,635 yards or 4,905
- So . . . walking
four horses each morning a hotwalker travels about 6,540 yards or
19,620 feet or . . . 3.7 miles!
All in all, not a bad way to start the day—gets the cardio
out of the way early on!
I’ve pretty much mapped out the backstretch, found a
Laundromat that permits the washing of horse laundry, followed the paths to the
training and main tracks, tested the track kitchen (all that walking makes a
girl hungry!), made some new friends, caught up with some old friends, and met
a fairly friendly goat . . .
. . . named Billy, of
course. He lives next door to Thyben’s tack shop (located conveniently between
Barn 34 and “the satellite dishes.” If you’ve ever been there, you know they are impossible to miss!
Weather-wise it’s been spring here in the city for some time
now. That means trees and flowers in full bloom and balmy mornings for
training; I'm looking forward to seeing some of my favorite horses train here in the coming season.
Being at Belmont this year will also bring another horse racing first for me, watching "Test of a Champion," the Belmont Stakes, live!