108 -The Michigan Daili_-Wedc4 c. - Thursday, February 15, 1996
More than 100 trainers and owners hauled erhre hog uzr eprtrsi
order to make the races at Northvillte DownsA°z
two Saturdays ago. Due to extreme conditions
and low turnout, the judges of the race agreed 5 rr
not to penalize horses that could not endure
the weekend's February's chill. A
While the chili does not affect the horses as
much as the heat, the horses were expected torfaesvalecnsbhdtieeaueo
the brutal severity of the weather. _r
But, for the survivors of the cold, the
conditions were an advantage. With many
drivers dropping from the race, the margins of
winning could only increase. One remaining
trainer, Bill Cottongim of Gregory, was not
about, to succumb to the chill.
BPIi, who races weekly at Northville, was
racing Sammiland, a four-year-old horse from
Ohio. Purchased several months ago,
Samnmlland belongs to Bill's wife.
Much of Bill's time at the track is spent
waiting. When racing during the daytime, he
can spend as many as seven hours waiting for '
a two minute race. On cold days, this time Is
spent at the stable waiting room, where Bilil
and other trainers watch the races on a closed
Among these trainers, there is certainly no
shortage of character. Whether a 90-year-old
trainer Is recalling the last time he drove a
carriage or a young farm girl is explaining the
virtues of a horse's appearance, the chatter In
the wating room is seldomly boring.
"Because racing prizes rarely provide a
livelihood, Bill, like most trainers, races only as
a hobby. Racing for a purse of $2,000 to be
spilt between five horses, trainers like BillLO
must be lucky to even break even. While first
place receives 50 percent of the
purse, drivers who place below
fifth win nothing for their efforts.;
Longtime superstition forbids
trainers to et on their own
horses. While Bill has bet on his
own horse before, other trainers
x tell of these bets tainting a
horse's performance, leaving the
' trainers with a double loss. Citing
superstition and past experience,
some trainers refuse to appear at
the track out of uniform, and
others refuse to have their photo
taken without their horse.
But, beyond superstition,
«.adequate preparation and warm-
up are essential to a well-run
race. While Bill is a member of,
the "no-frils" school of horse
v preparation, he still looks out for
his horse's safety before a race.
A This involves such preparatory
- measures as tying a horse's
tongue to prevent choking and
- . wrapping its ankles for support. Bpil ties Sammiland's tongue with a thin piece of fabric In order to prevent her from choking during the race..
. ~- ~ - .,eA 4 -wrIpd o k e e he o - e k h r e w i h i n u n
In the pr-race, Sammiland Is warmed up in the
races. Each horse Is checked by one of the track's
judges and cleared for the race. Then, only after a brief F us
veterinary checkup and several warm-up laps is + r y. r
Sammiland allowed to race. a. ff41. J.
As the stable doors open trom the warm paddock to 4A
the chili of the outside, Sammiland makes the brief,
parade trot from her stable to the outside. Handing the r g
harness and whip over to his driver, Bill is allowed to
do little more than wait as his prize horse leaves the
warm stables for the track.
Trainer Jeff Rahley watches his horse make a running start from the side
of the stable. Because extrememly low temperatures, few trainers left the
stable for much longer than their own races. :
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