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Racing goes on at Laurel Park despite frigid weather

Jockeys at Laurel Park braved cold weather Thursday to complete a nine-race card. The temperature was 15 degrees when the horses left the starting gate at 12:30 p.m. and reached 19 at its peak.

Maryland Jockey Club general manager Sal Sinatra and racing secretary Georganne Hale met with veteran rider Sheldon Russell, the Jockeys' Guild representative in Maryland, after training ended at 10 a.m. to discuss the situation and arranged for the riders to take the horses straight from the paddock to the gate and unsaddle in the paddock instead of on the track. "It was a good team effort to get it done today," Russell said. "All the riders were willing to give it a go. Georganne and Sal were very understanding of the situation. They allowed us to leave the jocks room with six minutes to post and go straight to the gate."

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Apprentice Michael Ritvo took it another step further by not wearing gloves on any of his four mounts.

"I have never seen that before," Russell said. "I have to wear gloves. The hardest part on cold days like this is keeping your hands warm because we have to steer the horses and control them during the race. I still haven't found a pair that helps keep my hands warm, but the short post parades and hand warmers help."

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