If you have always wanted to know what goes on behind-the-scenes at a horse race, then Arapahoe Race Park’s “A Day At The Races” should be on your schedule for next year! Every year, the park hosts an event where people of all ages get to see first-hand what goes on at the barns before the races take place. It’s a great day filled with tours, knowledgeable guides, a tasty lunch and ends with the highly anticipated races. I had the privilege of spending the day at Arapahoe Park on Saturday, June 15 and will give you an overview of the wonderful time that I had.
The day started at the front door lobby where everyone was to meet in order to go on the barn tour together. There were some booths set up here to represent different organizations, and I had the privilege of meeting Kelly Huston of the Arabian Horse Association (pictured right) and Jim and Cindy Gromelski representing the Colorado Arabian Breeders Alliance. Unfortunately, Arabians have been absent from Arapahoe Horse Park for the last several years, and 2019 is the first year that Arabians are being brought back to this park to race! Having these folks at the park representing Arabians was so great to see and an asset for the Arabian Horse.
At 10:30AM, the Executive Director of the park, Bruce Seymore, loaded everyone up into the guides’ vehicles and the journey began. First stop was the barn of Tim and Christie Weeder of Weeder Racing Stable. Here, they explained the routine of race day as well as the ages and names of most of the horses in their barn. There was a combination of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and they were all stunning. The routine of these horses proved that they are truly treated well, such as receiving plenty of exercise if the horses are not in a race that day as well as each having individual fans blowing directly on every horse to keep them cool on hot, summer days. Tim and Christie passed out horse treats to the kids and allowed them to give them to any of the horses if they wanted to. The children seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to learn and actually feed a treat to a racehorse. Here, we were also shown what a racehorse’s saddle looks like. They allowed anyone to hold it to feel just how lightweight these saddles are. The experience at this barn was great, and everyone in the group really seemed to enjoy it.
Next stop on the tour was the barn of Ken and Valerie Dunyluk (pictured left); a barn of all Arabians. Every single horse in the barn was beautiful and ranged from age 4 to 11 years old. Valerie informed everyone that Arabians tend to run more years than other breeds. She pulled out a couple of mares, and they were so gentle and kind-hearted. Ken and Valerie allowed anyone to take photos with the horses if they wanted as well as being able to pet them. Again, the kids really enjoyed this as well as the adults. Ken and Valerie were so informational, kind and funny and did a fantastic job of explaining their routine on race day. Bruce Seymore explained the precautions that are taken and all of the rules and regulations of racehorses. There are a lot of strict rules to be followed on the day of a race. Due to this, Ken and Valerie showed us which horse of theirs was in the race that day; however, we were not allowed to touch him and they did not take him out of his stall.
After these two barn tours, we were taken to an area off the track where all the large equipment is kept that they use to maintain the track, and we were even taken for a drive around the entire track! We stopped to see the starting gate and understand how it works. We were allowed to stand in the gate like they do as they load up the horses right before the bell rings. It was really a great experience as well as an informative one. The entire group of people that went seemed to enjoy their time out on the tour, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. After the track tour, we headed back to the concession area where lunch was provided.
At 1PM, the National Anthem played followed by the “Boots and Saddles Bugle Call” to inform everyone that the races were about to begin. First up on the track were the Arabians. They all put up a great fight and actually, Ken and Valerie Dunylak’s horse came in second place. It was such a fun experience, and I highly encourage anyone looking to get behind-the-scenes of the races to attend this event at Arapahoe Park next year. It will not be regretted!