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Jockey Emma Jayne Wilson, winner of the test race aboard Internal Bourbon, wore a GoPro helmet cam.
North American horse racing has for many years been contested exclusively in a right-handed (counterclockwise) direction, however this was not always the case. Belmont Park ran clockwise originally, including when Man O'War won the 1920 Belmont Stakes. In 2016 Woodbine will card up to 40 races the "wrong way" over its 1 1/2 mile E.P. Taylor Turf Course, the first race scheduled to go on Friday June 10. The main reason for the program is to better utilize the clubhouse end of the course. In the counterclockwise direction, only races longer than 1 1/4 mile use that section, so by running turf sprints of 5 to 5 1/2 furlongs clockwise, this will help to preserve the far turn and main homestretch. Woodbine's course is not a traditional oval, but instead its clubhouse end has a "dogleg" from the homestretch to the straight incline, located 1/8 mile from the finish, and an "elbow" turn between the incline and the backstretch, between the 1/8 and 3/16 poles. This turn is obscured from most of the grandstand by the harness paddock building. Running the wrong way, the final stages approximate Longchamp in Paris, with the downhill "false straight" that gently bends into the real straight. Due to this layout, EuroTurf races have a very short homestretch of just 1/8 mile, in contrast with the counterclockwise homestretch of 1440 feet (about 2 1/4 furlongs).
Rounding the final turn out of the dogleg going the wrong way down the stretch in the Euro Style test race.
Internal Bourbon winning the test race over Hidden Turn and Flashy Ruby.
You can watch a replay of the race here.
In the elbow turn of the dogleg approaching the 3/16th pole
Emile Ramsammy, aboard third place finisher Zazinga added, “I did feel a different bounce coming down the hill onto the shorter stretch. I thought the horses all handled it well. This morning, the riders didn’t ride as aggressive as we will in the afternoon, so it will be a little different for sure. Today we just wanted to see how the horses would handle it and we didn’t have any problems at all. It did take me awhile to get adjusted to going the other way as a rider. Because we ride ‘acey-deucey’ (inside stirrup longer than the outside one), going the other way, the jockeys will all have to ride ‘acey-deucey’ the wrong way just to keep their comfort. I know from personal experience it will take some adjustment.”
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