Bill Spawr rarely works his horses by the dawn’s very early light.
The 72-year-old trainer prefers to send his horses out well before
sunrise, when the racing surface is in pristine condition and not
cluttered with a plethora of hoof prints and competing workers.
Such will be the case again Friday morning, when Spawr is scheduled
to work Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie six furlongs at 5 a.m.
in preparation for his overdue 2012 debut in the Grade II San Carlos
Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 25.
Which raises the question: how do horse and rider negotiate their way safely around the track in the dark?
“Other senses come in to play for both horse and human,”says Chris
Aplin, who galloped horses for Spawr from 1980 until 2009, and remains
an integral part of his successful operation. The best horse she
galloped was Spawr’s stakes-winning sprinter, Bordonaro.
“When you’re out there in the dark and you do it every morning, your
other senses kick in to adjust to the darkness; your hearing, your
balance. Everything intensifies around you so it’s easier for you to
understand and navigate in the dark.
“You’re not using just your sight. You have other senses that are
helping you. We’re used to the same group of people out there in the
mornings at the same time, so you know which trainers are there along
with horses and riders.
“You’re familiar with each other but you’re a little more cautious
because it’s in the dark, so you’re paying more attention than you would
if it was light and there was a lot to look at.”