Race horses arrive at JFK ahead of International Trot in Yonkers
A group of international harness horses flew into JFK Airport in a widebody airplane on Wednesday morning with a list of demands that would make a rock star blush.
They can only drink bottled water, stay in a temperature-controlled barn, have their own paddock area and 24-hour security.
But it's all in the name of safety - not luxury.
The horses were flown in from Belgium to compete in the International Trot being held at Empire City Casino's Yonkers Raceway on Oct. 15.
They have to undergo strict quarantine and health procedures to make sure no contagious diseases are spread, according to Dr. Vincent DiCicco, a veterinarian who works with the United States Department of Agriculture and supervises the care of international horses.
"What's really amazing is how well these horses actually enjoy this trip," he said. "I greet many a flight at JFK and these magnificent creatures always arrive content, happy and ready to compete, it is really inspiring."
The horses included BBS Sugarlight of Norway, Explosive de Vie of Sweden, Jonesy of Finland, Oasis Bi of Italy, On Track Piraten of Sweden and Tano Bork of Denmark.
The International Trot was first held at the former Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. Yonkers hosted the race for several years but stopped until reviving it in 2015.
With the advent of international simulcasting our fan base is now worldwide, with fans watching and wagering on our races throughout Europe and Australia," said Yonkers Raceway and Empire City Casino President and CEO Tim Rooney. "It was important for us to maintain the race when Roosevelt closed in 1988, and equally important for us to revive the race last year when it became financially feasible to do so."
He said Europeans watch the trotters on Sundays with the same fervor as football fans gather around the television on Sundays in the U.S.
The horses each had individual handlers for the plane ride, were lowered onto pallets and into vans for the trip to Stewart Airport in Newburgh. They will remain there for a two-day quarantine before going to the raceway.
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