Ostrich and Camel Races Return to Ellis Park

Ostrich and Camel Races Return to Ellis Park

Coady Photography

A ostrich race at Ellis Park in 2015 - Coady Photography
Coady Photography

Ellis Park Press Release: There will be more than racing this Saturday at Ellis Park, with jockeys competing for pride only in the annual ostrich and camel races.

There will be five ostriches and four camels, with 2015 meet-leader Didiel Osorio, Cisco Torres and Corey Lanerie committed to riding both. The ostrich race is after the fifth race (post time: 2:43 p.m. Central), with camels going to the post after the seventh (post time: 4:00).

“You ride horses daily, and when something like that comes along it’s actually pretty fun,” said Torres, who has yet to break his maiden on an ostrich or camel. “The last time I rode one, my ostrich turned and I fell off. So we’re looking for our first win on either the camel or ostrich Saturday.”

Asked which is the most difficult to ride among ostriches, camels and racehorses, Torres said: “Ostriches. Because their skin and their feathers move. You can’t grab onto their neck because you’ll choke them, so you just have to have a handful of feathers.”

Not that riding a camel is easy. “Camels are hard to ride, because they don’t steer very well. They don’t have bridles and bits in their mouths to where you can steer them. The guys who have these camels break them to run straight. So you hang on and hope you’re on the fastest camel.”

Torres said even with nothing but bragging rights up for grabs, the jockeys go out determined to finish first.

“Absolutely. That’s the competitiveness of all the riders,” he said. “When we’re in the gate, whether it’s an ostrich, a camel, buffalo, donkey, we want to get across the wire first. That’s our mindset.”

Still, he said, “When you get off, you realize, ‘I’m glad we’re not riding these for a living.’ It makes you appreciate horses, for sure.”

The field for Saturday’s seventh race for 2-year-old fillies includes Dial Me, owned by the Churchill Downs Racing Club, whose 200 investors paid $500 each to get the experience of racehorse ownership without the risk. Dial Me was fifth in her debut at Churchill. The CDRC also has a 2-year-old colt, Warrior’s Club, owned by a separate 200-person group. He finished third earlier in the meet at Ellis after also finishing fifth in his debut.

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