Horse racing is a sport that is held in all kinds of weather. Horses don’t particularly seem to mind getting wet when they race, so it is common to see many horse races contested in the rain. They can even be ran on horse racing tracks that are so deep in mud that safety becomes a real concern for both horse and rider. Here are a few things that you should know about horse racing in rain and bad weather.
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Horse Racing in Rain is Much Worse for Jockeys Than Horses
While horses do not seem bothered by rain, jockeys are quite another story. Who can blame them? Riding into the face of a howling, driving rainstorm is just downright miserable. The rain stings, and even worse it can cause the inside of a jockey’s racing goggles to fog up. Mud can also be kicked on the racing goggles, which is why you will see many riders wearing multiple pairs of them. When one pair becomes dirty they just slide them down to reveal a fresh pair.
There are some jockeys that would be considered specialists at riding in rainy conditions, but most would probably agree that they do not like it. The fact of the matter is that it can be unsafe. Holes can appear in the track surface, risking injury to horses. Horses can also slip and fall on a wet surface. All in all some jockeys don’t like the added risk of riding in the rain. But still, they do it because few horse races are ever canceled due to bad weather.
Race Tracks Can Become Faster During a Rain Storm
You might think that a rainstorm would slow down a race track to an unbearable degree. The truth is that sometimes rain can make a track play faster than it normally would under regular conditions. The reason for this could be that sealing the race track makes for a harder, packed surface. It is sort of like what you would encounter on a beach where the tide has packed down the sand.
Tracks are often sealed after a heavy rain to prevent damage from occurring to the track. When a track is sealed a piece of heavy equipment is used to pack down the dirt between each race. As a result the rain will pool on top and run off as opposed to sinking into the ground and making things very wet on the bottom side of the track.
How to Handicap Horses in Rain and Bad Weather
As you might imagine there are some difference when it comes to handicapping horses that are running in bad weather. Most handicappers will begin by looking at a horse’s pedigree to see if the horse has ancestors that ran well in the rain. They will also check to see if a horse has shown proficiency in the past when competing in the rain. All of these factors could indicate that a horse will show a good performance when it comes a downpour.
Another thing that some handicappers pay attention to are the size of the horse’s feet. It is generally believed that horses with big, wide feet are better suited to run in the rain. The feet seem to have an easier time getting hold of the track surface, and horses don’t tend to lose too much speed.
As a general piece of advice when betting horses that are running in rainy conditions, always prefer horses that have previous experience running in the rain. This is going to give the horse a competitive edge when racing. It is always a good idea to never bet on a horse that is trying something new for the first time. You would be much better off to wait and see what the horse is capable of before you put down your money.
Are Horse Races Ever Cancelled Due to Weather?
On a rare occasion a horse race card might be cancelled because of rain. The truth is that the deciding factor is usually the presence in the racing area of lightning. In this case it is deemed safer for the horses and the riders if the races are postponed.
Another reason that horse races might be cancelled is extreme heat. In New York a frozen track could cause the cancellation of races. While it is rare, it does happen.
More commonly it is the jockeys that express concern over horse racing conditions and ask for races to be postponed. They usually will ride the track before making this request, taking note of all the areas where the track might be damaged.