HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - It can be tough to run outside in the heat, but imagine how hot it must get for horses running at Ellis Park in the middle of July?
Horses are racing upwards of 30 to 40 miles per hour in the summer heat for some intense minutes during these races, but park officials have implemented plenty of safety measures to keep their horses safe.
From bathing them with cold water, blowing them with big fans or keeping them in the shade, trainers will do whatever it takes to keep their horses from overheating.
If the temperatures get too hot, a horse may be scratched from a race, or the track may decide to cancel the races altogether, similar to what Ellis Park officials did one weekend this past summer.
“We obviously monitor the weather going up to days like this, and if we feel like it gets to a certain point of the heat index, then we’ll look at possibly canceling the races,” Ellis Park Racing Secretary Dan Bork said. “For everybody’s safety, we try to put as much water out as we can. We have water stations all around. We have veterinarians constantly monitoring if there’s any horse that shows any kind of distress.
“In the barns, we keep fans, multiple fans when it’s this hot, keep a lot of water on them from the time we get them out to come over for the race,” trainer Jason Barkley said. “I feed them an electrolyte supplement every day. We have salt in their diet, which leads them to want to drink, to replenish themselves from the water they lose there, so you can kind of help them along a little bit.”
Barkley says it’s not uncommon at all for a horse to get scratched from a race due to the heat, especially if they have been shipped in from out of town, and were riding in a hot trailer for a few hours.