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Contents / And they’re off! A day at Veliefendi

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, English
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:

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