Sunday, November 1, 2015

What do race horses 'think' about racing?

From the NYTimes about American Pharaoh, by Joe Drape:
Usually I want tension, I want drama in a horse race, especially one as important as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which attracts the best horses from around the world and carries a hefty purse: $5 million, half of it to the winner.

But as American Pharoah and his seven rivals edged into the starting gate Saturday, the mist settled in the dark skies at Keenelaand, and this historic racetrack in the heart of the Bluegrass State became deafeningly quiet. You could hear deep breaths. Nothing much was at stake — except the legacy of a horse and the definition of greatness.

“This was about American Pharoah,” said the colt’s emotional owner, Ahmed Zayat. “We wanted him to go out the right way.”

Sort of silly, right? [...] In a world filled with smartphones, brain-rattling N.F.L. hits and presidential debates as spectator sport, there is something soothing and old world about watching a horse rocket around an oval ahead of others just because he can.
But what does the horse think about it? How does the horse feel after a good run? Does a good run feel different if it's a winning run rather than a losing run? Yes, the jockey, the owners, and the fans feel it differently. But does the horse? How does the horse feel the jockey's reaction to the run?

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