A Great day spent at the quarter horse races a few weeks ago, while visiting Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas with good friends, this is how our American horse got its name. From the speed and power exerted in short races of one-quarter of a mile. More publicized racing these days has been thoroughbred racing, but as for American Quarter Horse racing,don’t expect to get bored.
Like a lot of my friends, I’m a self-proclaimed horse expert, an “illness” I suffer from especially as a spectator at most equine events, but even more so at the horse races. Sure,I can look at a horse and evaluate shoulder slope, hip length, neck set, balance, condition, temperament, age, health, and hopefully whether they will win their race based on all these things, combined with my vast and obviously superior knowledge. But, it’s no secret that I have yet to retire and live comfortably with all my winnings. So much for thinking I’m an expert. But when I got the chance to meet a real expert, suddenly my luck was changed.
I met Jennifer Hancock, one of the American Quarter Horse Association’s Wrangler Q-Racing Aces. The program, introduced by the AQHA in 2010 is gaining popularity as Jennifer and her racing expert colleagues share their racing knowledge and handicapping expertise with racing fans at tracks across the country.
The Wrangler Q-Racing Aces are a small group of highly respected horse industry experts: Martha Claussen, Jennifer Perkins, Denis Blake, John Hernandez, Jennifer Hancock and Jerry Shotenkirk. All have been involved in American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing as handicappers, racing writers and publicists. Their goals, as representatives of the breed and ambassadors of the sport, are to promote “America’s Fastest Athlete,” provide fan education services and help the AQHA develop new fan bases in the quarter horse racing industry.
So, there I was, studying the program with my little-old-lady reading glasses, trying to make sense of all the little numbers and abbreviations next to each horse’s name. It’s what I usually do when at the races. Sit there sipping my cold beverage and reading the program (it’s called a racing form, I learned) while trying to look like the expert I know I am, until I see the horses come out on the track with their riders. (Jockeys. They are called jockeys. I knew that.) When I see the horses, I do all the above, then look for the horse’s name, and if the horse looks amazing (they all do) and the name is really cool (and they all are) then I pick one or two, grab my 2$ bet and go to the betting window to give my money to a total stranger with a great smile (they all smile when they take your money.) That’s when I saw Jennifer, sitting at a table right by the betting windows. I had just found my pot of gold.
While I waited for her to finish helping a fan from the Netherlands, then another from Uruguay, I did something not many people do these days. I listened. As she coached these two men through the process of understanding the finer points of the racing form (“programs” are for high school productions of South Pacific, West Side Story, Porgie and Bess and graduation ceremonies) I learned that the racing form contains abbreviated information on each horse’s life and career, even right down to what kind of weather the horse prefers in his races.
I changed my bets and won $190.00 on the next race. We bought another cold beverage to celebrate, counted the cash again, watched a few more races just for the thrill of seeing the horses pounding across the finish line, and drove home a winner. Thanks to Jennifer Hancock and the AQHA’s Wrangler Q-Racing Aces program, I’ve learned how to increase my odds of winning, and it has little to do with a shiny coat, pretty neck, or strong hip.
I also learned that no matter how much information you may have on each horse in every race, no one can predict how the chips may fall. At the end of the race, luck and fate still play a strong part in the outcome. As Jennifer said, “… don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.” With her expert direction and help understanding the racing form, I ventured from my formula of placing bets in $2 increments, and enjoyed the thrill of watching my picks come in under the finish line just as I had picked them, Win, Place and Show. When I went back to the betting window to cash in my winning ticket, it was my turn to smile.
For more information on quarter horse racing in your area, be sure to check out www.aqharacing.com or give them a “Like” on Facebook at Q-Racing Aces