When Flavien Prat thanked “the pony girl” moments after winning the Preakness with Rombauer, he highlighted both the importance and the anonymity of the people whose very visible yet barely noticed work is an essential element of racetrack safety.
On the principle that nervous Thoroughbreds, herd animals that they are, will relax more easily with a pony pal, ponies meet runners once they step on the track as a matter of course, unaccompanied horses the exception.
Regular racegoers come to recognize the pony riders at their local tracks, as, of course, do local jockeys and trainers. When a rider ships in, though, as Prat did for the Preakness, the pony rider may well be just one among the many unfamiliar faces.
Though there would be few people in Maryland racing who would not recognize Christine Higgs, she briefly grabbed the national spotlight as the rider who took the fractious Rombauer to the starting gate before the biggest win of his career.
–Continue reading at The Racing Biz…