A day at the races | NevadaAppeal.com

A day at the races

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

It’s just like riding a horse — only completely different.

Amanda Hammon, Appeal city reporter, and I spent Friday afternoon learning to ride camels, then racing in the Media Grudge Match as part of the Virginia City International Camel Races.

We spent the first two hours learning how to mount and dismount our beasts of burden, along with other trivial facts such as camels can kick with all four legs and can strike hard enough with a front hoof to rip a man’s chest open.

Trainer Andrew Cartwright also cleared up a common misconception: Camels don’t spit.

Instead, he said, they vomit their cud when provoked. I was glad he clarified. Spitting is so gross.

During the orientation, we also met our competitors. The nature of our profession brought Amanda and me to the media races and we were prepared to meet others in the same line of work.

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However, we were surprised to meet working girls of a different nature. Brothel owner Dennis Hoff is a sponsor of the races and brought two girls from his Moonlite Bunny Ranch, and two others from the Kit Kat also competed.

With all the formalities out of the way, we were ready to race.

I was paired against Michael Lockwood from Red’s Old Fashioned Candies in Virginia City.

Growing up on a ranch in Northeastern Nevada, I was no stranger to horse racing — mostly against my sisters, but still racing.

As I climbed on my camel, Saddam, I was going over strategies in my mind to make him run faster. Whatever it took, I just wanted to win.

But when “go” was announced, it ceased to be about strategy and became only about survival.

As Saddam leapt from the kneeling position to a dead run in about .2 seconds, I realized it was less like a horse race and more like mutton bustin’ — just hold on.

It wasn’t until we neared the finish line that my initial fear subsided enough to enjoy the ride. And what a ride. And yes, I won.

I’m still not convinced the camel is superior to the horse, as Cartwright suggested, but that’s a hump I may get over.

IF YOU GO

What: Virginia City International Camel Races

When: 11 a.m. today and Sunday

Where: Comstock Arena