Camels and Ostriches Take to the Track

By Julia Rose

Published 06/20 2014 06:23PM

Updated 06/20 2014 06:26PM

It was certainly not your average derby Friday night at Vernon Downs Race Track. Instead of cheering on horses, thousands are filling the stands to see which camel and ostrich will take home first place.

"We have three ostriches and we have four camels,” says Scott Warren, Director of Racing at Vernon Downs.

It’s the second annual Camel and Ostrich Race, an event organizers say draws in thousands.

"Last year was our first time doing it at Vernon, we had around 6,000 people and we anticipate as many people this year, if not more,” said Warren.

"I think its fun, I do, I mean I’m looking forward to tonight just like a kid, I’m looking forward to seeing it again tonight,” says horse owner Ann Mari Daley.

The animals are brought in by a company based out of Kansas and they travel across the country. Some of the jockeys say they'd rather work with camels over horses.

"Camels are a lot more intelligent, a lot more fun to work with, even than horses,” says camel wrangler Monte McClurg.

And the ostriches...well...

"There’s not really a lot to say about the ostriches, I mean the camels, they have a personality and stuff like that, the ostriches, they're just kind of curious, they just kind of do their own thing,” said A.J. Augusto, one of the animal handlers.

The camels may look huge and lazy but the trainers say they love to run, in fact, they can get up to 25 miles per hour and apparently, they love to give kisses. But you won't see their soft side tonight, they take their racing very seriously.

"The four we brought here love to run, they know what's going on, when that bugle boy plays, they're going to be wound for sound and take off down the track, they know, and the crowd, they love the attention, so it's a big crowd we're going to have here tonight and they're going to be so excited they love doing this,” said McClurg.

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