Fast Majesty at work at Del Mar

Fast Majesty at work at Del Mar

Tracy Gantz

Del Mar Introduces 'Time to Ride' Program

Children as well as adults lined up to take advantage of the free rides at Del Mar.

Nine-year-old Kayla Sanchez had never ridden a full-sized horse until she visited Del Mar July 21.

"It's my birthday today," said Kayla before she climbed aboard one of the eight horses assembled as part of the "Time to Ride" program. Kayla was also excited that a jockey with her name, Kayla Stra, was racing on the card.

Children aged 7 and older as well as adults lined up to take advantage of the free rides in the Del Mar infield. Bryan Pettigrew of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said that they expected about 600 people to ride throughout the afternoon.

"This is our first racetrack," said Pettigrew. "Our first event was over three weekends in March at the Austin rodeo, where we put 1,200 people on horses. Our plan is to make it a national program that we can take to several tracks throughout the United States."

The American Horse Council sponsors the Time to Ride program (, in conjunction with such other industry sponsors as the American Quarter Horse Association, U.S. Equestrian Federation, Zoetis Animal Health, Merck, and Purina. Pettigrew said that the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, The Jockey Club, and Keeneland are also involved.

"The horses came from area barns," said Patti Colbert, who is helping to organize the Time to Ride program. Colbert has also worked with the Extreme Mustang Makeover program.

Anyone who participated in one of the free rides received a certificate good for 50% off a riding lesson at one of 19 local stables. Many of the kids lining up had never been on a horse before.

Six of the horses were outfitted in Western saddles, and twoboth Thoroughbredssported English saddles. One of the Thoroughbreds, Fast Majesty, started four times in Texas during his racing career. Now named Griffin, he is a 15-year-old gray son of Fast ForwardTough Nite's Kon, by Yukon.

"The genesis of this was how do you get people closer to horses," said Pettigrew. "We did some research with Zoetis and determined that horseback riding is very popular when you go to rodeos, racetracks, and state fairs. This is truly one of those good times where the industry is working together."