RACING SILKS IN EVERY COLOR, PROVIDED YOU WEAR A SMALL

As a build up to this weekend’s Belmont Stakes, the New York Times published an article about racing silks…

By John Branch

The door is marked “Color Room.” Behind it is a jarring array of hues, hanging on hooks — reds on one side, blues in the back, pinks toward the front.

There are thousands of these colors, horse racing team uniforms called silks that are worn by jockeys at Belmont Park, site of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Each is different, if only slightly so, from the one next to it, with designs meant to distinguish horses of different owners whenever and wherever they race. Each was approved and registered by the Jockey Club. And each was carefully sewn to specification, quite possibly by two sisters who live a few miles from Belmont Park.

Without silks, a race would be a colorless herd of horses thundering down the backstretch. It might be hard to tell the Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver from the Preakness Stakes champion Lookin at Lucky.

“People do identify with silks,” said Dr. Ted Hill, steward of the Jockey Club, which oversees the silks registry in New York, which includes more than 31,000 one-of-a-kind designs. “You know where your horse is in a pack.”

Contrary to the name, silks — a pullover jacket and matching cover for the helmet — are rarely made from silk these days. Most are nylon, but an increasing number of owners and jockeys prefer the streamlined properties of tight-fitting material like Lycra.

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(Photo by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)