In the Heat of the Night

Why in the world has racing not been doing this longer?! That is my first and foremost thought on this experience.

Churchill asked visitors to vote on whether they should continue to do night racing or not. With the largest crowd of the meet next to Derby, Oaks, and Breeders' Cup days, it's a no-brainer. If it isn't a no-brainer then they had to think themselves out of common sense.

Pains in the industry would be relieved by a surge in younger people becoming interested in horse racing and teaching these younger people what racing truly is, beyond the betting. Though the betting dosn't hurt. Younger generations will not only add to the typical boomer crowds, but increased handle will help ensure the continuation of Thoroughbred racing.

The crowd that I saw last Thursday night was absolutely dominated by the younger generations with the older generations still venturing around. Beer lines were tolerable and it is a good sign in my eyes when they run out of one or two domestic name brands for beverages. The only conflict was that hot dogs were sold out and it was going to be twenty minutes before the next golden batch would be ready to enjoy.

The atmosphere varied greatly with several entertainment options to choose from, which is a good thing. You had the DJs and dancing--I LOVE to dance--which Churchill continued after the races ended to have a "dance club" of sorts going. That was incredibly appealing to me and with a quality DJ a lot of young people would choose a sweet dance club alongside a premiere race course with affordable drink options. Six dollar cover charge, another plus for any bar or club night, because it is affordable and competitive with other evening locales.

Aside from the club, you could easily lounge and mingle, the people watching was abundant. With people being off work in the evening, the mix was extensive. Most people were starting their holiday weekends and I think a lot of people who can't make it to the tracks during the work days and have chores to do during the day on weekends, benefited and took advantage of the night racing.

Speaking of the racing, the excitement from the paddock to the track, including TWO dead heats on the night, was quite tangible. Of course no real blockbuster names on the race entries, but I dare say that will change. I actually traveled 70 miles to Louisville for a race night that didn't have any big names I wanted to see, or big races to witness, because of the overall many others could be in this boat? With word of mouth spreading like wildfire on the success of the three nights, aside from beer lines, success is at hand.

So again I say, Why in the world has racing not been doing this longer?!

PS There is an amazing Out of The Gate photo in this week's Blood-Horse magazine of the track lit up at night.


I will be posting a review of the movie "On The Muscle" in the blog for Your Summer Task, which is a listing of movies to watch and review and share about. Click here to visit.

 Judith sent us this link on our Facebook page and I thought I should share it. What neat POV look into a horse working, and what a treat it is Zenyatta!


Leave a Comment:


Wow..what a treat. Thank you for the video. I watched Big Zen run in the Midlay and Vanity. She's amazing from any angle.

08 Jul 2009 2:48 PM

A few thought.  First, I love the way that mare finishes with her ears UP.  She appears to love her job.  Secondly, I don't know how any of these horses stay sound warming up all crooked and bent over a pony.  It has to be hell on both muscles and legs.  Thirdly, the backstretch was as ghastly as Penn National.

A friend of mine and I have discussed what could be done with old Pimlico.  We thought maybe tear down the club house.  Move it to the other side of the track.  Move the finish line of course.  But wait, you say.... just wait.  Build new barns on the Pimlico side behind high, high fences.  Run a spur up from Light Rail to the new club house.   Make the place inviting like Camden Yards or Keenland.  Put up lights.  Race at night.  Make it a place to go for fun.  A casino might be nice but won't happen in our state.  Our legislature would rather see the industry and all it's tax revenue die.  Night racing in MD would be easier on the horses anyway.  The humidity is a killer.

08 Jul 2009 2:57 PM

That was awesome!  This is what horseracing needs to show it's audience!  This is exciting and interesting and helps to educate the general public on what athletes both the horse and the jockey are.  Please video more of these works!  

08 Jul 2009 3:35 PM

AWESOME.  Keep 'em comin'.  Very cool, and gives great perspective.  Thank you.

08 Jul 2009 5:16 PM

That was just thrilling!!

08 Jul 2009 5:59 PM
Stephi S.

It's not that new, actually. Charles Town used to do "Family Saturdays" where they had racing in the afternoon and at night as well. This was way before slots, back in the 70's. The usual racing at Charles Town was night racing, as it is now, but on weekends they had day cards too for Saturday and Sunday. Every month or so, they would put picnic tables out in the apron next to the track, have coupons printed in the local papers for family admission and for "picnic food" from the concessions, and people would come, and bring the kids. Dad got to stay home and do, in peace and quiet, his Saturday chores, and then after feeding time would come in for the night racing. There were also give-aways suitable for kids, tee-shirts with "Charles Town Races" around an old print 1800's picture of the track, caps with the track logo, etc. They also had a "Family Reunion" day/night, usually on a Sunday, where they gave out discount admission to people who were with the family reunions that that had registered with the track that weekend, and coupons for bulk foods from concessions, ordered in advance. They used to fill the grandstand with days and nights like that. And make money when CT was the bottom of the barrel venue. So, it's a great idea, LOL, but it's been done successfully for a while. Just not at a major newsworthy track.

Encouraging people to come to the track with their families, and making it attractive for them, will not only get in the young parents, but their friends too. And what Mom doesn't love a place where the security guards keep the little darlings off the race track? And I would bet dollars to donuts that KY has a family reunion season just like WV does.

Come to think of it, if the BC comes back to Churchill, they can run the races all in one day, and one night. Or run the fillies and mares at night on Friday, if they insist on two days. They would probably draw a bigger crowd than the Saturday day races of the colts.

08 Jul 2009 6:00 PM

I just LOVE this video of Zenny working out! It's on my Favorites list at Youtube. I've wanted to be a professional jockey since I was 3 years old and got on my first horse. Unfortunately, genetics was against me when I was 5'8" and 150 lbs at 14. So this video is a dream come true for me, in a way. I get the feeling of riding on a real track with a Superstar horse!

I was also surprised at how "tall" Zenyatta really is! The view looked a long way down BEFORE they met up with the escort horse... seeing the difference in their heights - and the difference with the horse pacing her - all I can say is "Wow!"

She's a gorgeous girl, and she loves her job. And I just love to watch her run. Thanks for the video!

08 Jul 2009 7:02 PM

That was soooo AWESOME! She seemed to do it so easily but they were really moving. Ears up at the end as always just enjoying herself. I'm going to Keeneland next week to watch morning workouts and this gives me a whole new perspective to think about. Thanks alot!!

09 Jul 2009 8:01 AM

thanks SoldiersCourse!

catsvx: Say hi to Pyro for me, when you go. He usually works Monday morning.

09 Jul 2009 8:49 AM

Thanks so much for this video! Zenyatta is my favorite female racehorse and it was so neat to feel like I was riding her. Haha. I wish! Someday I hope to be an exercise rider for horse legends such as her, I'd be too nervous to do actual races. =)

09 Jul 2009 9:24 PM


   I too wanted to be a jockey, and my build, slight, and wieght 106, would probably allow me to be a jockey. My problem is my physical limitations. I have a bad back and a very messed up shoulder, that i've reinjured for the second time in 10 months in the same place. I wish i could be a jockey, but it seems as if god has other plans for me.

11 Jul 2009 3:32 PM

Oh thank you so much for the video of zenyatta! What a horse--very intelligent! I loved seeing what she had to say. Also I might add that the pony does not appreciate unwanted contact from having another horse bouncing all over her lol. It is not within their nature to allow that kind of contact unless they are playing, grooming, or mating...even then there's a strict behavioral code that is to be followed. The things these beautiful beasts do for us when asked is unbelievable and never ceases to amaze me. I won't give away any of Zenyatta's secrets since she is training and racing as those that are close to her may not want those things to be known.

13 Jul 2009 2:34 PM

Years and years ago, My friends and I used to go Roosevelt raceway at night to bet on the trotters and pacers.  It was nice and cool, better for the horses and the fans.  I miss that track.  It was only 25 minutes from where I lived and we could go every weekend if we had money,  it was alot of fun.

15 Jul 2009 7:29 PM

Just watched the video Adam it was great. I've broke off a few in my time and it was funny to see the pony pin his ears when she chewed on him. That's exactly how it feels when you work them and the mane is blowing back in your face. I always feel sorry for the workmate cause it tears the heart out of them when they get outworked all the time.

Thanks really enjoyed it!

16 Jul 2009 8:37 AM

Recent Posts

Recommended Reading

Social Media

More Blogs