Here’s Mud in your Eye

Whitmore ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.

After every muddy Kentucky Derby, one of my old posts, On a Sloppy Track, Jockeys wear up to 9 pairs of Goggles, always gets a lot of views. Obviously, on a track as muddy as yesterday’s, it’s a real challenge for jockeys to guide their horses to a good trip. I can completely understand why Mike Smith got Justify right out in front so that neither he nor his mount got a lot of mud in their faces. Which brings me to the obscure drinking toast, “Here’s mud in your eye,” which is what Justify must have said to Good Magic and Audible back at the barn.

It’s an odd toast with a derivation that’s, well, clear as mud! Some people believe that the toast originates in horse racing, where the winner (if he’s Justify) finishes without without mud in his face, making it a toast to success. Other people believe it has Biblical origins, referring to John 9:1–9:41 in the New Testament. This passage relates the tale of Jesus restoring sight to Celidonius, a man born blind, by putting mud in the man’s eyes and instructing him to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam.

Third eyelid
The third eyelid is a membrane located at the inside corner of the equine eye. It slides over the eyeball from inside corner to outside corner and helps to protect the eye. In normal horses, the third eyelid is only visible as a pink rim at the inside corner of the eye. Source:

While Jockeys may go through multiple pairs of goggles in a race like yesterday’s, what about the horses? For some horses, getting pelted with mud is enough to make them not want to run. It’s hard to blame them! It’s true that horses have a “third eyelid,” a membrane that slides horizontally across the eyeball if debris or trauma is detected.

If that’s not enough protection, there are now horse goggles! Yes, a company called Foxpro is now manufacturing protective goggles for horses. Initially marketed for polo ponies to prevent impact injuries, they can also be used by race horses. However, they wouldn’t be able to keep pulling them down like jockeys do if they got covered by mud.

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