"There are days," said jockey Chris McCarron, "when it hurts all over just to stay up on a horse in the cold."
Yesterday was one of those days.
It was 35 degrees at Bowie Race Course as the track was opened for the first time. Eleven days of the current meeting have been lost to the snow and cold.
The track was hardly comfortable and for McCarron, who won the feature race aboard Highland Jim, and the other powie jockeys precautions were the order of the day.
Jack Kurtz, a veteran of the New England circuit, where the winter weather on an average is 15 degrees colder than in Maryland, said, "We all wear those double nylon pants that insulate so well. Those of us who have to watch our weight, like me and maybe Bill Passmore, have to leave that extra sweater off.Of cource, we wear gloves, ski masks and leotards, extra goggles, and 'mud' boots because they hold in the warmth."
Kurtz finished third in the feature astride All Square.
"Battling the cold is always a problem," he said. "It is usually windy and that can throw off your rythm. We used to have some old-time riders back in the 40s and '50s who would drink to stay warm. Most couldn't handle it."
Jockey Danny Wright, who has ridden in Maryland for the past 10 years, said, "I'm so lucky to be a working jockey. I take riding in the cold as part of my job. Not a happy part, but a necessary one. I make 105 (pounds) so I can put an extra windbreaker on underneath. That helps, as does the fact the stewards let us cut down the post parade to five munutes on those frozen days"
Leroy Moryers, winner of $1,500,000 dickeys for our necks, gloves for our hands and ski masks for our faces, but it takes heart to ride when its so cold it hurts. I hate riding in the winter, but it must be done to be successful. But Hialeah sure is nice about now."