I had a couple of good conversations lately with people who are interested in horseracing but don't know anything about it. The other day I got an email asking, "what times do the horses run?"
So I replied with the answer I thought she seeked, but my answer was not at all what she wanted. I said, "If you mean when does racing start for the day, post time is usually 12:30pm or so unless the track features night racing then it usually starts around 7pm. Most tracks have a "dark" day or two when there is no racing. TV coverage of the races on the racing channels usually starts around 11am or so (eastern time). If you mean how fast do they run, usually 1/2 mile in about 45-48 seconds, 3/4 mile in about 1:09-1:15, 1 mile in about 1:35-1:43."
But this was too much information!
What she wanted to know was, "What time is practice in the morning? I want to take my niece there tomorrow."
So I replied, "Try to get there early as possible, between 7am and 8am, training generally ends at 10am and most horses are off the track by 9am, best time to be there is right after the 8am break when a lot of horses will breeze. Sometimes the schedule changes if there's a big race that day and early post time."
I met a couple from Pennsylvania in town visiting relatives and struck up a conversation because they are animal lovers, one of them an animal sciences major in college and owner of an OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) that she is training as a show hunter. They had never attended the races before but when I took them they loved it and were full of curious questions about everything. For instance they asked, "Is that a girl jockey?", "what's the difference between betting place or show?, "where on the track will this race start?" (the gate was not visible because it was all the way in the back of the chute). If we had stayed all day I'm sure there would have been a hundred questions like this.
If every racetrack veteran takes the time to introduce newbies to the track in a personal way, just think how much we could help promote our sport! I have a lot of fun answering all the questions and seeing new people have a good time at the track.