The spectators make the most colorful sight at
Veliefendi Hippodrome, where horses have been galloping
to the finish line for close to a hundred years.
The track is a distance of 2400 meters. The horses,
three-year-olds, are entering their last contest
before the Gazi Race, the ‘derby’ of
Turkish horse racing. The starting gate is set up
right in front of the stands, near the finishing
line, known locally in the trade as ‘the mirror’.
Slowly, the fillies enter their individual stalls.
Some are extremely docile, others nervous, causing
trouble for their jockeys and grooms, balking as
if they don’t want to race that day. As well
as raising a murmur of displeasure in the stands,
this resistance by the ‘fussy’ thoroughbreds
also triggers some temperamental kicking among the
other fillies waiting for their rivals to take their
positions. Finally all but one of the English thoroughbreds
are in position—a filly named Pimienta is
disqualified for refusing to enter her stall—and
the announcement repeated before each race booms
over the loudspeakers: