There were 30 minutes until the first race of the day and the locker room at Fairmount Park Racetrack buzzed with activity. Jockeys flipped through race programs and flicked their whips through the air. Television sets perched on cluttered shelves flashed scenes of the track outside, where fans filled the stands for opening day of the Collinsville racetrack's 91st season.
As announcers counted down in anticipation, the jockeys helped each other tape up aching joints and teased each other playfully. Some said a quick prayer.
"In here, we're all buddies," said jockey Uriel Lopez. "But out there – it's all business."
Fairmount Park's season lasts through Labor Day weekend, with races on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday nights. For a six-week period in June and July, there will also be Friday night races.