Robbie Davis may be retired, but he still has the need. The need for speed.
The winner of more than 3,300 races in his horse-racing career, Davis was on hand Thursday for the unveiling of the newest racehorse simulator at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
At a press event for the new ride, Davis hopped on the simulator to give it a spin. Naturally, Davis chose to ride one of the simulator’s choice of five horses called “Cardiac Arrest,” which he was assured was the fastest.
“It’s exhilarating,” Davis said after three rounds on the simulator. “It really jumps up and takes right off.”
The new simulator, Ready to Ride!, which opens to the public at 10 a.m. Friday, was designed as a training tool used by professional jockeys. It's an electronic racehorse simulator designed to perfect the art of thoroughbred race riding around the world. It was developed in England by Racewood Simulators and made possible at the museum through funding by Charlotte C. Weber and the Live Oak Foundation.
The simulator features software that allows the rider to race against five other simulated horses at varying distances on the rider’s choice of 15 different courses, including the one at Saratoga. The simulator can be set to three different levels of difficulty and various course conditions can be applied.
The rider must control the horse using balance and timing. Failure to do so results in the accumulation of penalties, which cause the horse to run out of energy before the end of the race.
At Thursday's press event, held at the museum across from Saratoga Race Course, Davis wasn't the only one impressed by the simulator.
"It’s crazy how similar it feels” to riding a horse, said another first-time rider.
To be eligible to use Ready to Ride!, one must be at least 4 feet, 6 inches tall and sign a release form while at the museum. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required. The cost of the simulator is $10 per ride in addition to the museum’s admission fee.