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In harness racing a horse is either hot to trot or a pacing machine. Although most reins-men have been life long friends, they play to win on the track. Last night I raced Shady's M Three, in the fourth race at Mohawk Raceway.
Just after dusk, in the bike as regular driver Randy Waples. As the wings closed, the horses were off. The drivers quickly rally for the best position for their horse. The enthusiasm continues to build as the reins-men pick up speed competing for the win. Also, the witty announcers add their knowledge calling out the action.
For me, the thrill of the race starts when the reins-men steer their magnificent steeds around the final turn. The thrill can't be duplicated. The drivers hit the stretch, and their instincts and serious crafted skills kick in to overdrive. The lengths these drivers will go for their owners, trainers and fans. Imagine horses breathing down your neck, their nose on the helmet of their competitor as sulkies become packed tightly together - wheels almost touch wheels. In an instant the horse drivers have to predict what is happening, right, left, behind and before them.
I'm not the only person who gets swept up in the thrill of the race as the horses round that final turn. The cheering from the grandstand begins. The owners, trainers and grooms have an adrenaline rush. All are confident their horse has a fighting chance. Coming to the wire is where the heart-stopping action is. Don't blink or you could miss the reins-men zig-zag through the closely packed field of horses. Last night a long-shot crossed the wire first in Shady's race and paid $25.30 to win. Not a bad pay-out on a $2 bet!
Over the years I have watched Mr.Waples drive standardbred horses.
You can check out Shady and her reins-man in action below.