Angel of Empire, the Pine Grove-bred thoroughbred has often trained with blinkers but never raced in them.
At Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, Schuylkill County’s favorite horse will make his racing debut wearing blinkers, the Twitter fan site for the horse confirmed earlier this week.
Angel of Empire is the third favorite among the 9 horses entered into the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The horse born and bred just outside Pine Grove finished third in the Kentucky Derby last month. He sat out of the Preakness Stakes.
Jockey Flavien Prat suggested the addition of blinkers could enhance the horse’s performance, according to a report from Daily Racing Form.
Trainer Brad Cox told DRF that he frequently trained the horse in blinkers, as Angel of Empire showed tendencies of being a somewhat lazy workhorse. The trainer was satisfied with how the horse had worked with blinkers in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, and is hopeful that this new addition will provide a much-needed spark in the upcoming race.
A total of nine horses have been entered for the $1.5 million Belmont, run at 1 1/2 miles. Forte is the current favorite to win this year’s Belmont Stakes. Saturday’s race is expected to begin a little after 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox.
What are Blinkers?
Racehorses wear blinkers, which are a type of eye gear, to help them maintain focus during a race. Here are a few key reasons:
- Limit Distractions: Blinkers restrict the horse’s peripheral vision. This helps reduce distractions on either side, which can help the horse maintain a straight path during the race. Without blinkers, some horses may react to movement or objects in their peripheral vision, leading to changes in speed or direction that can disrupt their performance.
- Improve Focus: By limiting the horse’s field of vision to what is directly ahead, blinkers help the horse concentrate on the track in front of them. This can improve their speed and performance in a race.
- Control Behavior: Some horses may be nervous or anxious, and blinkers can help manage their behavior. For example, blinkers might help prevent a horse from spooking (reacting in fear to perceived threats).
- Enhance Training: Trainers also sometimes use blinkers during training to encourage certain behaviors. For instance, they may use blinkers to help a horse get used to running in a straight line, or to become accustomed to the presence of other horses on either side without becoming distracted.
However, the use of blinkers depends on the individual horse. Some horses respond well to them, while others may not need them or may perform worse when wearing them. It’s up to the trainer to understand and decide what’s best for each horse.