There will be some big frequent flyers at Churchill Downs come Kentucky Derby weekend. BIG as in over seven feet tall and weigh around 1000 pounds. But the vast size of the horses does not keep them from logging millions of air miles annually, as the horses and their connections pursue the fame and fortune that looms in big races such as The Kentucky Derby.
But you need not worry that your flight might be ruined by hay fever or the stench of manure. No, a high percentage of domestic horse miles flown each year are aboard a single aircraft appropriately called “Air Horse One”. It is a Boeing 727 freighter, specially outfitted to haul up to 21 prized thoroughbreds at any one time. Given the big money purses and breeding values of today’s upper echelon of equine, this is not as crazy as it sounds.
Rob Clark is the CEO of H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company, and has been arranging horse flight for 49 years. According to him; “It’s a popular way to transport horses, given the short travel time frame.” With a cross-country van trip, trainers would like, at the very least, to give a horse two to three weeks to recover from the journey before entering the animal in a big race. With Air Horse One, horses fly in three or four day in advance, they race, and are back on the plane home. As Clark also states; “It’s much easier on the horses.”
Fly The Stallion Skies.