If horses win races by a nose, does an ostrich win by a beak?
On Sunday, Remington Park Racing & Casino will host a day filled with unusual racing animals: ostriches; zebras; and the star of the show, camels.
“Evidently, they hold the camel as the most prestigious [race to win], so I am pleased to be a part of that,” Chris Kotulak said.
Kotulak is not only a nationally known horse racing analyst and published author; he is also last year’s Extreme Racing Day champion camel jockey.
It is an impressive title to hold, but Kotulak hasn’t let it go to his head.
“My first year, I got beat by half a hump by champion jockey G.R. Carter. It was close, but I didn’t get the cigar,” he said. “The next year, I was able to come back and win the race.”
Kotulak’s secret to winning the race was a combination of luck and strategy. He did his homework and outlined the differences between riding a horse versus racing a camel. He has been riding horses all his life and transferred what he knew to a new animal. He also has the added disadvantage of being about 80 pounds heavier than the average jockey.
He realizes how silly this all sounds. Kotulak is quick to point out that regardless of the silliness, the riders are there to win.
“When you’re getting ready to leave the gate and you look over and see world champion jockey G.R. Carter alongside you with as much of a game face as he would have if he were riding million-dollar horses, it catches your attention,” he said.
This year, Kotulak is looking to capture that magic again astride Sugar, a camel.
Remington Park hosts the event as part of quarter horse season, which runs from March to early June. This is the fifth annual extreme racing event.
According to a media statement, last year’s attendance topped a record-breaking 26,000 people. This year, the staff anticipates an even larger crowd.
And it’s all for a good cause.
Each jockey is teamed with a local radio channel “trainer,” and the pair competes for a $1,000 cash prize that will go to a local charity.
Kotulak, Sugar and his trainer, 94.7 The Brew KBRU, are competing for Oklahoma City Police Department’s Family Awareness and Community Teamwork (FACT), an initiative that works to prevent gang activity.