Joe Takach

Article Library




If a runner is NOT READY to run his best race, the final 2 minutes of the pre-race warm up period when all entrants begin their long walk to the starting gate can be a very “telling” 120 seconds!  Unwilling participants not only offer new dissenting signs, but also confirm their earlier negativity.


If they had a whisper of kidney sweat in the post parade, one of two things will happen. 

Either the “whisper” disappears completely as the horse gets away from the crowd, lights, noise and countless other distractions and settles back down. or it begins to worsen

The “wet and worried” beast knows that it won’t be long until he’s asked for everything and if not offering enough, will be whipped for a quarter mile----hardly an encouraging future for a horse who would rather be back in the solace of his stall taking his afternoon nap dreaming about open pastures!

Not only will his kidney sweat worsen, but massive body sweating can be viewed at a few body locations.   This wetness will not only be evident if you’re on track, but will also jump out at you if viewing over a clear and legible TV monitor at a simulcast outlet.

If his kidney sweat is now “dripping” down the inside of either or both of his rear legs, chances are he also has heavy neck lather

Keep your eyes on his jockey.   He’ll be continually removing the white frothy lather with his whip using it as a “Squeegie”.  Additionally, front leg sweat is usually a given.  In fact, if you look very closely at the saddlecloth itself, you’ll notice a white outline.  That “white outline” is known as saddle sweat.

All this negative sweating has its price! 

This nervousness is sapping essential energy needed for the upcoming race.   A horse can’t be wasting any energy BEFORE the race, as he only has so much in his “tank”.    

Think of it in terms of your automobile.  If you fill it up before you leave for a long journey, you can only go so far on that single tank of gas before stopping or refilling.  If before you left on this trip you allowed your car to idle in your driveway for 30 minutes at 3000 rpm, you would obviously be wasting gas. You wouldn’t be able to travel as far as you could have if the car hadn’t wasted all that fuel or energy.

Well, that’s exactly what happens with the racehorse.

He only has so many “ergs” of energy before the gates open and if he squanders any of it from the time he leaves the solace of his stall until loaded into the starting gate, he does nothing to help his chances of winning.  

Soaking wet horses are a no-no.  Stay off them!


This horse isn’t hard to spot in the 2 minute walk to the starting gate.  He’s the one kicking up dust with each slow and lethargic step.  Chances are he’s NOT wet---not even a little bit! 

He doesn’t have the energy to sweat! 

His head is probably low and bobbing and never goes over his shoulders. 

His tail is most likely flat against his rump. 

His ears could be flopped over. 

Nothing about this horse remotely suggests readiness!

Any horse looking this bad will offer little, if any, resistance during the actual running of the race.  Most often they quickly fall to the rear and remain there for their entire race.

Stay off them!


He’s extremely easy to spot in any crowd to include the last 2 minutes of the pre-race warm-up period  He’s the one acting like a complete nut.  He could be constantly wheeling or rearing up in an attempt to free himself from his outrider and/or his jockey. 

Some fractious horses are frightened and their ears will continually flicker.  It is obvious that the animal is not concentrating on anything in particular and surely not the upcoming race!

If his ears are pinned, he’s excessively angry and could easily “bolt” for the outside fence as the gates fly open.

Most fractious horses are additionally “hot and washy”!

Constant east/west tails indicating high states of irritability are usually evident. 

It is not uncommon for them to carry their heads abnormally high.  Sometimes when they can get their heads high enough, the outrider will lose control of them and they can run off.

Stay off them!

A caveat is in order.  I’ve seen many horses look perfectly normal up until the last 2 minutes when they near the starting gate and the reality of the imminent race REALLY sets in.  Almost instantly they go from “calm” to “crazy”!  This doesn’t happen all that often, but you should be aware that it does occur and it’s negative significance. 

In closing, those who spend those last 2 minutes or most of them with their binoculars or satellite monitors will find the time spent well worth the effort!


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