Sometimes life surprises you in funny ways. This was the case with Turf Paradise, where I went, while I traveled to Peoria, Arizona to visit my brother. I had looked it up, and couldn’t really find anything. I did find a website, but at the time, it looked nothing like a real racecourse was there. It changed from when I first looked till when I arrived over there. My sister-in-law looked it up, and we found that it very much was a running race course and a “real” one too. So of we went.
It took a bit finding out, where to enter, but we found it. That day – 14th. January, they had a birthday special and free long sleeved T-shirts for the first 4.000 visitors, so we had one, as we were early (The guy on the last photo above here is wearing it). We bought a drink and sat on a bench looking at people for a while. I left my sister-in-law to try and photograph a bit. That in itself was someewhat of a challenge, that was almost impossible apart from the paddock, as the track was a level higher than ground level apart from a solid fence as well. I went to the paddock fence and talked to the sercurity guy and asked about what it took to get behind the fences. The paddock is also of limits with a solid iron door he guarded. That day alone, but next race day together with his boss the Director of Security.
I didn’t quiet understand, what it took exsactly, but as I understood, you have go be recommended by someone “important” as far as I understood. I most certainly want to get stuck in being able to photograph from better places next time. That inspite that I actually did get in, and had better possibilities than I would have had otherwise, because they were nice to me. I appriciated that very much. And in general, I can only thank everyone for being exstremely nice and friendly and making the two days at the track, another memorable and lovely memory from a trip, that in generel was just fantastic. If you want to read more about why and other aspects of the trip please have a look at deborah.dk now and in the future, as there will be plenty about it over there.
So how is racing different in Arizona, than Denmark. Well in several ways. The horses are saddled at the paddock in boots at the side – see photos. I’m told that it used to be like that at Klampenborg too, many years back, but a practical idea.
Before racing starts, the flag is raised. When that happens, the national anthem is played and all activity stops! All stand in silence and salute the flag and cheer and clap when the anthem stops. A very nice tradition in my book.
In general I found the horses were very big and seemed taller than our horses. Not that we don’t have horses that size, but these were all in the range of the tallest we’ve got.
All horses have their own “pony” to lead them to start. The ponies are quarterhorses and former race horses and give and extra dimension to the whole thing. At the weight there’s a bucket with mints for them, and they get one when they arrive and don’t they know whhere they are. They steer directly to get their treets. The guys were pretty chocked when I told them, that in Denmark, they have to be able to canter to start by themselves.
At the Weight they have coat hooks for the grooms/lead-ups to hang whatever equipment the brought down with them. That’s something that would be handy at Klampenborg to have. And of course they have numbers on them, so you can see what horse it belongs to. Speaking of numbers. Here they also have the number approns that I’ve been saying for ages we need at Klampenborg. It’s even more spoken for here, where we race at wet and cold temperatures and the horses often have covers on arriving at the track. This problem is not an issue at Turf Paradise, but it is nice that no matter where you stand, you’re never in doubt of what number the horses have. Also the numbers are different color, which makes it even easier to distinguish the horses from each other. Another good idea in my book.
The winner of the race is photographed in the paddock after the race with owners, trainer etc. Not on the track as such, unlike in Klampenborg, where we do both. There they have a platform build for the owners to stand on if there are a lot of people involved, but it is not always used.
Another thing that was different, I didn’t like, was the lip chains. They put chains inside the horses upper lip for control. There are many theories about these but personally I don’t think they should be allowed. I wonder how we even survive without all these chains. I saw a horse who had chefney, lip chain and a chain over it’s nose as well! A bit of an overkill in my book. Some say it’s not worse than the twitches, but I chose to dissagree. You cannot tell me that a horses gums are not as sensitive as ours and that it must hurt them. I’d rather you have two people leading up like we do, if we have a particular fisty horse. American Quarter Horse Assciation has already banned the use of Lip Chains.
There were two other photographers at the track, who were very friendly and nice. No problem whatso ever. In general like I said, people were really friendly. I’m looking forward to going back to Arizona and not least Turf Paradise, where I really felt welcome.
Later I’ll link to all the photos, so you can see them in larger format!
Click unterneath to see more photos: