PHOTO CREDIT: H.E. SUTTON FORWARDING COMPANY
Most know of Air Force One, the airplane used by the president of the United States. Well, there’s another plane that carries the elite around but this one’s specifically meant for horses. Meet Air-Horse-One, the nickname given to a first-class airplane used to transport million-dollar thoroughbred racehorses.
The Kentucky Derby is usually where these horses are transported to and from and it’s extremely important these thoroughbreds get to where they’re going safely. They travel like top-level athletes not having to go through long lines of security, being cramped into small spaces or scanned with metal detectors.
These horses are treated with the highest levels of comfort a horse could ask for. They are given their own stall on the plane that comes with hay and water to drink. Not to mention a full staff of professional groomers, handlers, emotional support ponies and even goats to calm them down. It cost the owners a whopping 3-5 thousand dollars per flight.
The plane can fit three horses per row, carrying up to 21 horses per flight. It’s reported the pilots take specific paths to avoid turbulence and when taking off and landing, the plane’s designed to do so very softly to not spook or injure the horses. Rob Clark, the president of Air Horse One says most horses don’t know they’re even in the air so there’s no fear of flying with them.
They fly the horses from California, Flordia, Ontario, and New York all the way to Kentucky a week in advance before the Derby. Doing this keeps the horses calm and ready by race day. Once they arrive, five professional horse handlers lead the half-ton horses down the ramp onto their specially designed vans and trailers.
They take the horses to farms that are basically like hotels for thoroughbreds to get them prepped for the big day. When the race starts they call it the “most exciting two minutes in sports” and for good reason. Many people are bet big money on the race in attempts to win a large return.
Last Saturday (May 4th) was actually the first time in 145 years of the Kentucky Derby, the horse that crossed the finish line first was not the winner. Apparently, the horse named Maximum Security was the first to cross but because it impeded on another horse, War of Will, on the final turn it got disqualified by the judges. The second place horse named, Country House, ended up getting the number one spot causing a massive upset in the horse racing community.
The Kentucky Derby is a beautiful thing to witness, and if you haven’t watched a race before make sure you do. It’s wild and unpredictable. And remember while you watch, these majestic creatures are being transported by the most elite horse carrying plane ever created, Air-Horse-One.