Make Horse Racing about True Sport

true sport of horse racing tampaThey say the first time you “breeze” a racehorse (that is a term for letting them run as if you were in an actual race) the adrenaline rush is so high that when you get off your legs crumple underneath you.

I had just graduated from college and had the opportunity to gallop race horses. This was a childhood dream of mine, so I thought if not now, when? Can’t be doing this when I’m 50. I signed on the dotted line

The job was at Fairview Farm in Landrum, S.C., which included a mile and a quarter track. I arrived and was told to shorten up my stirrups, put on my helmet and begin galloping. I had to pinch myself because here I was galloping some of the most elegant, athletic horses in the world, a dream come true!

After many hours of galloping, you can earn the opportunity to “breeze” a horse. The guys in the barn all referred to me as “New York” as they found my fast-talking New York persona incredibly amusing . The big day came and I heard over and over again from the barn workers,

“Hey New York, be careful, your legs are gonna crumple when you get off,” accompanied by a lot of laughter. I had ridden over some pretty imposing fences in my show jumping career, so I just laughed right back at them.

When we got the horses to the track (you run in pairs) the trainer told us to pick up a nice slow gallop and when we hit the quarter pole to drop down on the rail and let them run.

It is hard to describe the elevated beauty of that moment. The power, the grace, the wind in your face. It was like nothing I had ever experienced, even when jumping huge fences and getting that moment of suspension in the air. This was a whole different level of thrill..

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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