As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Mohawk Racetrack last Thursday. Here’s a little rundown of how it all went down.
We started the evening at the Terrace Dining Room, which, after passing by last time, I was excited to check out.
After ordering a round of drinks and some apps, we watched the races begin and decided to try our hand at placing a bet on the horse with the name we liked best (great strategy, I know). Unfortunately, Deep Impact didn’t win, but our luck (and strategy) improved as the night went on.
For dinner we ordered the salmon tortellini and a pepperoni pizza, and despite being stuffed we had to follow it up with dessert because the brownie martini looked amazing (and the apple crumble was even better). The food was delicious – we were so full we could barely move once it was time to take the tour.
The dining room patio provides a perfect view of the track along with quick access to the betting machine, and the servers were all friendly and very attentive. If you head to Mohawk, I highly recommend staking your spot up there. But be warned – if you choose to sit on the patio, the mosquitoes get bad once the sun starts to set – my feet were covered in bites, so dress appropriately or bring bug spray.
After the meal and a little success betting on a couple horses with good odds, Mark, the communications coordinator at Mohawk, took us over to the Paddock to get a behind the scenes look at how it all goes down at the racetrack.
The horses arrive from all over Ontario in their trailers, then they’re moved inside and grouped together based on the race they’re running in.
At the back of the paddock there’s a special area where they test the urine of the horse that wins each race, along with a random horse from each race, to ensure they haven’t been given any performance enhancing drugs.
Each horse has their own caretaker who carefully bathes them and takes care of them before and after the race. These guys are the true unsung heroes of the sport, who unlike the drivers and coaches, get no glory and have to deal with literal horse shit – but have deep love for the animals.
At Mohawk, the horses are all Standardbred – which I learned means they are more durable horses than Thoroughbreds (who can only run once a month because of their daintier bone structure). Standardbreds are able to run once a week without causing too much stress to their bones.
By far the most exciting part of the evening was that, after the tour, we were able to get on the track in the car that drives in front of the horses to get them together in line as the race starts. Hearing their hooves clop along the pavement and being right beside them as they ran was an incredible once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. The power of the horses on the track is especially impactful when you get to be there right in the action of the race.
FYI Just a reminder that you still have time to make the quick trip to Mohawk this summer to take a selfie in front of the track and win $1000 gift certificate! Just post it to twitter and use the #OffToTheRaces hashtag and you’re all set. Remember, admission to the races is always free, and they’re open from 6pm to 11pm five days a week.