Henderson CountyKentucky

Race Horses Cooling Off on Race Days Due to Dangerously High Heat Index

The horses at Ellis Park are taking a much needed break from racing as the heat index is reaching over 103 degrees.

Ellis Park will be adding lights so come next year around this time these horses will be able to race on hot days, but at night time.

“You can just imagine the horses that go out there and run full throttle. It’s got to be hard for them to grab a deep breath,” says Assistant Trainer at Hancock Racing Dana Hancock.

The stalls at Ellis Park are full of horses, but the track is empty on race day.

“Obviously we do miss money when we are not running, but you can’t look at that. Safety is always first,” says Secretary of Racing Dan Bork.

These horses beat the heat by training early in the morning.

“We try to have them out by 8 o clock, 8 A.M. which is the first break. By 9 o’clock we have them back in the barn,” says Hancock.

Closing for racing is in the best interest of everyone.

“Especially as the day goes on, the hotter it is going to get. That would be the primary racing time. You have people that actually walk the horses to the paddock. It’s unsafe for them because they can get overheated, but it’s really unsafe for everybody,” says Hancock.

Park staff are around the barn 24 hours a day. The horses are sprayed with water to cool them down as much as possible.

“We walk them for longer periods of time to make sure they are completely cooled down,” says Hancock.

Each horse also has their own individual fan in their stall going 24 hours.

“We just gotta make sure we keep them plenty of water, electrolytes, and stuff to keep them hydrated,” says Hancock.

The horsemen are affected as well.

“They gotta feed these horses and the cost of keeping them is very expensive so it affects them quite a bit too. There is no purse money that is given,” says Bork.

“I don’t like to miss race days although it is understandable because it is for the well being of the horses. But I am hoping that the rain rally does move in like it is supposed to and maybe drops the temperature a little bit, and we will be able to race on Sunday I’m hoping,” says Hancock.

Park staff will be evaluating the weather on Saturday to determine if horse racing will take place Sunday.

But, for the first time a racing make up day will take place on July 29th.

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