BY JIM WELLS
There is the short, quick race at a distance you expect to see in the summer Olympics, another that tests your eye/brain coordination by watching a race being conducted on different racing surfaces simultaneously, and yet another at a mere two furlongs.
The afternoon includes events you might otherwise expect to see only on a National Geographic special.
The exotic combination is called Extreme Race Day.
Extreme races, at 110 yards, a quarter of a mile, and on the dirt and grass simultaneously. Exotic animals _ camels, ostriches and zebras _ ridden by men and women who typically ride horses.
All of it conducted under sunny skies, with a 10 mph southeasterly breeze and 49 percent humidity, the first afternoon a major event has taken place this season under such ideal conditions.
$18,000 DASH IN A FLASH
The footnotes were exceptionally brief, but what can you expect from a race that begins and ends in the blink of an eye.
Track announcer Paul Allen sized it up thusly: Seven seconds of sheer bliss.
Even less than that: 6.978, if you must.
This race was over in the time it takes to bend over and pick up a program you just dropped, the time it takes to complete a single sneeze or to eat five hot dogs if your name is Joey Chesnut.
Quick, quicker quickest.
And the horse with the eponymous name _ Ms Haulin Chic _ did exactly that in the only stakes race on the menu Saturday. She hauled it as if she were a dragster BIR, reaching the wire with a head to spare on Bout Tree Fiddy and another ¾ length in front of Bye Byefreighttrain.
That made this swift 4-year-old filly the winner of the Dash In A Flash Stakes, a 110-yard race whose purse was increased by a $9,000 addition from the Mystic Lake purse enhancement fund to $15,000. Quarter horse purses that size attract a crowd and this one drew a lineup of 10, reduced to nine after a gate scratch named Perfect Lota, who turned around in her stall, roughing up jockey Jorge Torres in the process.
Torres was maneuvering an arm in the socket as he made his way to the jockeys lounge, rubbing the biceps at the same time. “Everything okay?,” he was asked.
“Yeah, yeah, just part of the game,” he responded.
Part of a game, that in this case at any rate, took fewer than seven seconds.
The winning horse is trained by R. Allen Hybsha for owner Haulin Assets Racing. Hybsha trained the winner of last year’s Dash also, Lota James owned by Whiting Ranch.
Hybsha sized up Saturday’s win in succinct fashion, saying of the winner:
“She’s fast, very fast. She set the track record for 220 at Remington Park this spring.”
At 110 yards, fast counts…a lot.
The conversation before this race took various forms. In one corner, Michelle Dupras, visiting from Tucson, informed anyone interested that it hurt when a camel spits and it hits you.
She learned that bit of information from informed camel people at another point in her life.
Jockey Patrick Canchari had a bit of advice for one of the camel riders before hand: “Wear goggles,” he said. “That way when he turns and looks at you he won’t see the fear in your eyes.”
Camels also are odiferous, tall and difficult to manage at times.
None of that was of much concern to Brandon Kewatt, a racing office intern and student at Mankato State. Kewatt is majoring in sports marketing but Saturday he was king of the sultans, riding the winning camel in a four-camel derby.
The winner? Keepin Up with a Camel KarDashian, the No. 4 hump.
“I liked it,” Kewatt said after his first camel ride. “That was fun.”
Opposing rider Maddie Primo had this to say in reponse:
“You killed it out there. You did.”
BATTLE OF THE SURFACES
No sense in looking at what doesn’t concern you, that over which you have no control. So, Jareth Loveberry kept his mind on business in this race, being run on the dirt and the turf.
“You just ride your race. The other one has nothing to do with you,” he said.
Yet, after he was assured of the wire, Loveberry did allow himself a glance at what was transpiring on the grass. “I looked over there,” he said, “and I also took a look at the big TV.”
He knew his horse was the winner in both cases, just not by how much.
It was substantial.
Riding Promising Shoes for Tammy Horsnby, Loveberry was a convincing winner in both cases. He beat the second best dirt horse, Buxton, by 2 ¾ lengths. Promising Shoes had a huge margin over Artie’s Rumor, the first grass runner to finish…20 lengths. The winning time was 1:39.28.
DON’T LAY AN EGG DASH
Jake Samuels learned that some days all you have to do is stay in the saddle (figuratively) and you are a winner.
He was the one rider in the four-ostrich race to keep his seat and that made him a winner.
He was aboard Rob GronkOstrichski, the No. 1 ostrich, described thusly:
“Made of pure muscle, this party animal brings his flashy personality to the race track…
With the three other riders rolling in the dust, Samuels claimed his win with relish.
“I’m not winning on the horses so any win feels good,” he said.
Yet, this experience was quite unlike those he experiences on a thoroughbred. His bird gave him a strange look in the gate.
“He turned completely around and looked me right in the eye,” Samuels said. “I thought he was going to bite me.”
They didn’t zoom. They didn’t really run. One of the zebras in this four-zebra field wandered over to the rail as if he expected a treat. Another wandered about the track for a short spell as if he were under a spell. All in all, they just didn’t seem all that interested.
Justin Zieber, somehow, found the finish line, wandering across first, and that after deciding to sit down in the gate.
His rider, Nakia Ramirez, has been through this before. She rode a zebra in a similar exhibition at Remington Park last spring. Any difference?
“Yes,” she said, “the one at Remington actually ran.”