We sat in his truck waiting out yet another shower.
“I broke 70 colts this year,” he said as the rain drummed on his flatbed. “I’m down to about 30 head and by July, I’ll be empty. When October comes, I’ll start over.”
Tally, who’s been a cowboy all his life, said he got into racehorse training and selling to make a better living than the ranch-hand salary of 300-a- week-plus-board he had years ago in New Mexico. We talked about his conjecture as to why the parimutuel track closed and what it would take to reopen it. Like the others, his tone and words became vague, mysterious. The parimutuel world of racehorses is much smaller than anyone would think, and none of these horsemen were prepared to burn a bridge.
Nevertheless, while there may not be crowds of 3,500 to 5,000 people three days a week in the grandstand as there was in the “old days,” the track sees plenty of action. In addition to the long-term trainers who use it for their everyday bread and butter, the track sees a large number of “haul-ins,” horsemen and women who stable elsewhere, but use the track to train.
Saturdays see the biggest number of off-track horses.
“We have people come in with barrel racers or cutting horses who want to extend their horse’s gallop,” Ferrell said. “Or we’ll get maybe a three-day competition horse and the owner wants to really leg him up. We get a lot of hunter jumpers.”
Ferrell, who lives on the property, went on to explain that being primarily racehorse-oriented, there has to be some rules.
“I try to regulate the safety,” he said. “The track is like the interstate. The inside lane is for fast. Middle is for gallop. The outside is for slow, so you don’t interfere with those going fast. Everything happens to the left. As long as your moving to the left, you don’t get into trouble.”