posted on 9/26/2012 12:09 pm
horse racing comes to The Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., this Sunday
afternoon with a race for trotters competing under saddle.
The $20,000 race
has attracted a field of a dozen trotters, who will compete in a
non-betting contest between races five and six. Post time for the
afternoon card is 1 p.m. This “hybrid” type of horse racing, with riders
and a saddle, not drivers and a sulky, is not exactly new, though most
racing fans have never seen such a race. In fact, Standardbreds have
been racing under saddle since the early 1800s, and “monte” racing, as
it is called in Europe, is common.
When this country
was new and flat, smooth roads were hard to find, Standardbred racing
was often conducted with riders, not drivers. The earliest depiction of
Standardbred racing in America was a race for trotters under saddle in
October of 1831. The painting is in the collection of the Harness Racing Museum
in Goshen, N.Y. and was done by R.S. Hillman. The oil depicts a field
of horses racing three miles with riders in silks on trotting horses.
Two of the dozen
rider/trotter combos competing on Sunday have already won under saddle
this year, in addition to competing regularly in traditional races in
Leigh Nichol will
be riding Windsun Galaxie, who’s won $311,843 in his career, of which
$475 came under saddle, from post one. While competing with a saddle,
not a sulky, is new for the horse, it’s not for the rider, though her
family works in harness racing.
|Vicki Wright photo
|Leigh Nichol and Windsun Galaxie won an under saddle race at Historic Track in Goshen on July 1.
competing with hunter jumpers when I was 12,” said Nichol. “I went to
the University of Georgia and rode on their two-time national champion
equestrian team. I started the Delaware State College equestrian team
(as a coach) and also coached the English side of South Dakota State
University’s equestrian team.”
assists boyfriend Tyler Raymer in training the racing stable that
includes Windsun Galaxie, a 5-year-old that Steve Moss and Helane and
Harold Solomon bought in February. Nichol said Windsun Galaxie already
had many miles under saddle before he started racing that way.
“I ride probably
half the horses we have here,” said Nichol. “Tyler’s very intelligent
with the horses and likes to keep them fresh. He really encouraged me to
do it (attempt racing) and the owners are behind it also. We couldn’t
do it without them.”
Nichol says that her mount on Sunday has the manners of a veteran school horse.
“I can get on and off Galaxie on my own, don’t need anyone to hold him, he’s an absolute gentleman,” she said.
The first few seconds off the mobile starting gate, though, gave the veteran rider a challenge she was not prepared for.
strides off the gate were one of the scariest things I’ve done on a
horse,” said Nichol. “I wanted to automatically ask them to stop. I had
to learn, because I ride hunters so much, you don’t hold on to their
mouths all the time and with a trotter, you have to hold on to them. It
was a completely different feel. I had to learn to put everything aside
and just hang on.”
|Tina Duer and Chinese Cuisine won an under saddle race at Meadowlands Racetrack on August 17.
Tina Duer, who
will ride Chinese Cuisine (with career earnings of $62,953) from post
seven, brings a global perspective. The 30-year-old mother of two boys,
Mason (5) and Colton (2), is a native of Sweden who is married to John
Duer, who trains Chinese Cuisine and bred the 4-year-old with his
father, Carter Duer, who now owns him.
and Duer won an under saddle race at Meadowlands Racetrack on August 17.
Duer worked in both Sweden and France caring for Standardbreds; two
countries where monte racing is common.
Duer also had Chinese Cuisine under saddle before the current monte races were organized.
“I did use him a couple times for trail riding and I’ve ridden my whole life,” she said.
Duer has competed
with Standardbreds in jumping and other classes, but of late, the
responsibilities of motherhood have pushed the horses aside.
“I have a
5-year-old and a 2-year-old,” she said, laughing. “I can’t tell you I
have a whole lot of practice in between the races, but it works.
“The trainer I
worked for in Sweden, she liked to do dressage with them and gallop in
deep sand, so we did a lot of that. A lot of Europeans do that and with
older horses, they need other things (besides racing on the track) to
Duer thinks Chinese Cuisine will benefit from his past experience.
“He does like it,
he can be a little nervous sometimes,” she said. “I think we have a
good shot. There are some good horses in there but I’m going to try to
give him a good trip. He likes to come from behind. The way I have him
rigged now is the way I had him rigged for the Meadowlands win. It
worked out perfect and I can pretty much do what I want with him now.”
The field for the
race is: 1. Windsun Galaxie, Leigh Nichol; 2. Take My Picture, Therese
Lindgren; 3. As Ya’ll Like It, Nancy Johansson; 4. Dream Kid, Jennifer
Connor; 5. Felipe Makaay, Emelie Loewenborg; 6. Celebrity Playboy, Maria
Andersson; 7. Chinese Cuisine, Tina Duer; 8. Sand Top Gun, Jenny
Melander; 9. Angel Eyes Hanover, Anita Valstad; 10. The Chancellor,
Helene Gregory; 11. My Minnie Chip, Kristin Shetler; 12. Muscolo, Karen
Sponsors of the
$20,000 purse are: Walnut Hall Ltd., Peter Gerry, Cane Run Farm, Blue
Chip Farm, Diamond Creek Farm, William Weaver and Alan Leavitt.
For more information on racing under saddle, please click here or contact Jennifer Daniels at the USTA, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Ellen Harvey, USTA Harness Racing Communications