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The Red Mile 2014 Standardbred Meet:
August 3- October 5


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Pair of Under Saddle Race Winners to compete


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posted on 9/26/2012 12:09 pm

 Hybrid 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 harness.

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.

“I started 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.”

Nichol now 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.

“The first 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.”

Lisa photo
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.

Chinese Cuisine 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 do.”

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 Isbell.

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.daniels@ustrotting.com.

 

Story by Ellen Harvey, USTA Harness Racing Communications



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