Bitter cold doesn't stop harness racing training

Polar Vortex doesn’t stop harness racing exercises at fairgrounds

Staying inside during the frigid temperatures isn’t an option for the harness racing horses at Dailey Stable in Urbana.

Some horses, like “Trial By Fire,” had races to prepare for as soon as this weekend.

“You just can’t stop. Somebody’s got to take care of them. They’re not going to take care of themselves,” said Kim Dailey, Dailey Stable owner.

The stable does exercise the horses with caution. On Thursday, they were the only stable at the Champaign County Fairgrounds to take their horses out on the racetrack, although the staff only took out three horses who are coming up on their race days.

Dailey Stable houses about 45 horses in total.

RELATED: $250K barn attracts horse trainers to Champaign County 

Horses like “One Sweet Woman,” — or “Big Momma” as she’s known to Dailey Stable staff — was one of the horses who ran four miles.

Dailey said most of the horses run a four, four-and-a-half or five mile jaunt, which takes about 20-25 minutes.

“Just depending on the horse and what needs to be done,” Dailey said.

When the horses aren’t exercising, most of them are wrapped in blankets that look like jackets.

“We try to keep blankets on them all the time, most of them. The babies don’t have them yet because they’re not used to them,” said Dailey.

The colts don’t have to prepare for races just yet.

The handful of staff at the stable is also tasked with making sure each horse has fresh water and enough hay to eat during a cold snap.

Surprisingly enough, Dailey said the horses don’t seem to mind the cold weather — but when it comes to the riders, it’s all about bundling up.

FEEL-GOOD: Springfield hunkers down, comes together through bitter cold

“Layers, keep layers on and they’ll come in and warm up,” Dailey said. “They’ve got the hand warmers and they keep their faces covered.”

By the time “Trial By Fire” hits the Miami Valley Raceway track on Saturday, temperatures will have warmed up considerably. Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones said the high on Saturday will be in the lower 30s.

It will be even warmer Sunday, with a high in the mid 50s for area Super Bowl parties.

Best to come — Monday will reach into the upper 50s or low 60s, Jones said, which would make a nearly 65-degree difference in less than a week.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.