58th Annual Camel Races This Weekend in Virginia City - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

58th Annual Camel Races This Weekend in Virginia City

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It looks a lot like horse racing but it's much more unpredictable. This year marks the 58th annual Camel and Ostrich Races in Virginia City. When riding a camel the strategy is to sit back, put your legs straight and hold on tight, because it's going to be a bumpy ride.

The camels brought to race and have a need for speed. Some of them top out at more than 20 miles per hour.

Each one was raised on a farm in Nickerson, Kansas, but they originally come from a family of wild camels caught in Australia more than 50 years ago.

"We've bred for genetics and good disposition and not necessarily all race camels cause we give camel rides here too," said Joe Henrick, President of Henrick promotions.

The camels stand more than 6 feet high, weigh about half a ton and can live for about 40 years. The breed of camel at the races is dromedary, meaning they only have one hump.

"If anybody tells you, oh I got spit on by a camel one time, first thing you ask them is was that a double hump or a single hump, if it's a single hump they're just making up a story because they do not spit," said Henrick

The hump determines a lot more than just whether a camel spits too. On the track, it serves as some cushion for the jockey sitting inside the saddle. In the wild, the hump can be used by the camel for survival.

"It's filled with muscle and gristle and they can survive for days and days without feed or water, either one,” said Henrick.

It’s not just camels racing in Virginia City, there are also zebras and ostriches too.

“The ostriches, they only have two legs, so they have to stay really balanced on the ostriches and the jockeys on the ostriches have be under 150 pounds,” said Henrick.

If you want to see all of the exciting racing for yourself, just head on up to the Virginia City arena and fairgrounds September 9th and 10th.

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