What’s in a Workout?

Workout Recap

On Sunday, Charlie had his first workout for the Club. He worked a 1/2 mile in 48 seconds, which was 11 of 42 for the distance. Jockey Leslie Mawing reported that Charlie felt good and did the work easily.

You can find all this information yourself by going to http://www.emeralddowns.com, Click on “Racing” tab, then “Workouts”.

Link to Charlie’s workout is here. You can also set up a free virtual stable through Equibase and it will send you a notification any time Charlie works or is entered to run.


If you came to watch the morning workout, or have been out for training, you might get a little disoriented on where the horses are on the track and where they are going. As a rule of thumb, all horses traveling at a canter or gallop travel counter-clockwise around the track. The faster the horse goes, the closer to the rail they move. If a horse is jogging, they can “backtrack”, which means going counter to traffic on the outside rail.

Jogging and/or trotting is a two-beat gait where the legs move diagonally together. Jogging is a term typically used by Western riders for a slow jog, but in racing lingo jog and trot are often interchanged.

Charlie Thomas backtracks at a trot.

Charlie Thomas backtracks at a trot. The right front and left hind move together for one “beat” and the left front and right hind move together for the second “beat” of the two-beat gait.

The canter is a three-beat gait. This may be faster than a trot, but is generally a relaxed gait that is modest in speed. As the horse picks up speed, they will transition from three-beats to the four-beat gallop.

Showing the three beats at a canter.

Showing the three beats at a canter.

When Charlie Thomas works and trains he is at a gallop. The gallop is a four-beat gait where each foot hits the ground independently and then there is the moment of suspension where you get the dramatic photos of the horses with all four feet off the ground.

Charlie appears to fly at the gallop!

Charlie appears to fly at the gallop!

If you make it out to watch future training, you’ll likely see all of these gaits performed by Charlie as he goes through his morning training. First, he will jog backwards to the 1/2 mile pole, then turn around and gallop a mile to a mile and a half counter clockwise. After he pulls up, he’ll turn around and jog back to the “gap”. The gap is quite literally the “gap” in the fence where the horses come on and off the track. You are lucky at Emerald Downs that we only have one gap and it is located at the quarter chute. Other tracks may have multiple locations where the horses can access the track.

At Emerald Downs (and tracks the world over), red and white striped poles are located every 1/4 mile. You may have heard the term “quarter pole”. Since our track is one mile around you will find four red and white striped poles. The 1/8th poles are located in between the red and white and are green and white striped. The 1/16th of a mile poles are black and white and are more slender than the others.

The next time you are at Emerald Downs, start at the finish line and work your way backwards down the track and see if you can identify all the poles. The first you’ll find is black and white and is 1/16th from the finish. The next is green and white and is 1/8th of a mile from the finish. Then a red and white 1/4 mile from the finish.

Charlie worked 4 furlongs. A furlong is an 1/8th of a mile so 4 furlongs equals a 1/2 mile. When Charlie worked, he would pick up speed on the back part of the racetrack and the goal is that he hits race speeds as he goes by the 1/2 mile pole. That is when the clockers will start their stopwatches. He finishes his work at the finish line and the clockers would stop their watches then.

On occasion, a trainer may opt to work a horse past the wire (finish line). This means they may have a 1/2 mile work start at the 3/8 pole and go a 1/8 mile past the finish line. Horses learn very quickly where the finish line is, so this strategy of training past the finish line can teach them to keep running hard all the way until the end.





6 thoughts on “What’s in a Workout?

  1. Will Charlie be working out on Saturday? We`re getting out there early to set up for the Derby and racing

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