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Thursday, December 20, 2007


(cartoon courtesy

In today's news - Santa Anita wish list includes a track ready to go by Dec. 26, local fans have a one-show hour to check out on The Score and more!

THOROUGHBLOG encourages story ideas, write-ups, photo submissions etc. Don't forget to check out my other links and lists!

Reminder, THOROUGHBLOG is off from Dec. 25 to somewhere around Dec. 29....

From the

Trainers “HORRIFIED”

Track workouts at Santa Anita still delayed

By Art Wilson, Staff Writer

Article Launched: 12/20/2007 12:00:00 AM PST

ARCADIA - More than an inch of rain fell on Santa Anita's Cushion Track on Tuesday night and early Wednesday, delaying the reopening of the synthetic track for workouts until Friday at the earliest and causing an uneasiness among trainers.

The track has been closed to training since Dec. 5 in order to repair a drainage problem that surfaced days before the Oak Tree meet began Sept. 26.

Trainers have had to use Santa Anita's infield training track or ship their horses to Hollywood Park for workouts the past twoweeks.

Santa Anita's 71st winter-spring meet is scheduled to open Wednesday.

"We're all horrified," said John Sadler, leading trainer at the Hollywood Park autumn meet. "We're all very nervous because this is uncharted water. We're all kind of wait and see."

Veteran conditioner Bruce Headley, based at the Arcadia track, said he is concerned but still plans to run horses on opening day. He has been training all his horses over Santa Anita's training track.

"I'm very worried because I haven't been able to work on it and because it is an experiment," he said. "I don't know what to expect."

Santa Anita president Ron Charles had hoped the track would be open for workouts Wednesday morning, but he says if all goes well with the weather the next couple of days, horses will be back and working over the track soon.

"I can understand that they are concerned," Charles said of the trainers. "Without any more rain, we are going to try to be open on Friday, but the horses will be on the track by Saturday."

Forecasts called for a 50 percent chance of rain today. No rain is predicted between Friday and opening day.

Charles said Santa Anita can handle a little rain today, but nothing like the storm that dropped an inch and a half the past couple of days.

"A tenth of an inch, I don't think will hurt us, and that's the last I heard," he said. "We're just at the mercy of the weather right now."

Sadler did find time to shed some humor on the situation.

"If they run the races on the training track at Santa Anita, I think I'm going to be really strong," he joked. "Because we've been on the training track for two-plus weeks."

Officials have been testing for the right mix of sand, wax, fiber and rubber that would allow the track to drain properly. The track did not drain Wednesday morning, so horses were not allowed back on it.

"This rain, they expected a half an inch, (and) we got an inch and a half," Charles said. "It just made things a mess."

Charles said workers will be adding the rubber and fiber today to the existing sand and wax after the surface has dried.

"I've got about a two-day window," Sadler said. "It's a situation where we just have to wait and see."

Crews have been working virtually around the clock. Santa Anita spent more than $10 million on its Cushion Track, a project that was completed in August.

Hollywood Park also has Cushion Track, but it has encountered no drainage problems.



From Woodbine TV department...

Just a heads up that not only does HPItv have some year in review stuff

going on over Christmas - but we've put together a NETWORK Year in

Review show for The Score as well. (2 separate shows linked as a 2


program....hour 1 recaps the year in t-bred racing here at woodbine and

abroad, the 2nd hour is about s-bred racing).

We cover A LOT of stuff so hopefully people get their "racing fix" by

seeing this over the holidays!

We were told the air dates/times would be the following.....

Dec 24- 7-9pm et

Dec 27- 430-630pm

Dec 31- 7-9pm et

Racehorse winning secret revealed

Breeders are prepared to spend vast sums on trusted stallions

(The offspring of expensive stallions owe their success more to how they are reared, trained and ridden than good genes, a study has found. )

Only 10% of a horse's lifetime winnings can be attributed to their bloodline, research in Biology Letters shows.

Edinburgh scientists compared the stud fees, winnings and earnings of more than 4,000 racehorses since 1922.

They found that the vast sums breeders are prepared to pay for top stallions do not guarantee the best genes.

The research was carried out by evolutionary biologists Alastair Wilson and Andrew Rambaut at the University of Edinburgh.

They found that while there was genetic variance in the quality of stallions at stud, this was not reflected in the size of the horse's stud fee.

"There are good genes out there to be bought but they don't necessarily come with the highest price tag," Dr Alastair Wilson told the BBC News website.

"It seems much more likely that people who can afford to pay high stud fees can also afford to manage and train their horses well."

The offspring of expensive stallions did tend to win more over their lifetime, he said, but genes played only a small role.

By far the biggest factor was the horse's environment - the way they were trained, the choice of races entered and which jockeys were employed, Dr Wilson added.

The findings may have parallels in the natural world, he added, in how signals of male genetic quality - such as the size and shape of a peacock's tail - are used by females to select a mate.

In this context, where the breeder was selecting the horse, fees paid for a stallion were not an honest signal of genetic quality, the researchers said.

Full details of the research are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters….at

(you have to register or something like that)

This article appeared at…


With regards to a recent comment posted…

Old Friends is a must stop for anyone in Lexington needing to get a

break from the marathon Keeneland sales. I'm still baffled at the lack of

support it gets from the major breeding "mills" in Kentucky though.

Editor’s note: That’s a bit harsh, referring to the big breeding farms as “mills”. The best news about the top farms (including many in Canada) are that you never hear about them keeping their retired horses, particularly broodmares, because they live out their lives on these farms. It’s a private retirement.

A friend told me about one of the biggest farms in Kentucky that keeps dozens of retirees that are boarded at private, nearby places or on the farm. These small farms make money retiring horses but are not of the magnitude of Old Friends, etc.


Big stakes day at Fair Grounds on Sat.

If you are not shopping, cooking, sleeping, eating or generally just getting ready for family gatherings and all that Christmas stuff, then you have time to watch racing on the weekend.

Saturday at Fair Grounds, the SUGAR BOWL STAKES for 2yo’s is an interesting little dash. Canadian-bred PALMERSTOWN (Awesome Again – My Chanel by Gilded Time), owned by Mike Ryan and bred by Adena Springs, has won two consecutive races including an allowance race at Hawthorne. His best Beyer Figure is a 77.

That is race 6 – RACE 7 is the Letellier Memorial Stakes and Canadian-bred CALL THE POSSE and LA WILDCAT are in the 12 horse field (2yo fillies at 6 furlongs). Call the Posse won two straight races at Woodbine for trainer Josie Carroll.


A commenter yesterday asked about the 2008 Queen's Plate.

Tough call at this point since the Canadian-bred boys were a bit weak in 2007 but here are some thoughts...

Certainly the buzz at the end of the year came form that sizzling debut win by GIQUERE (Mutakkdim), who reportedly attracted offers of around $1 million after that score from American interests. No deal, no sell, should be fun to watch.


It will be fun to monitor Canadian-bred 3yo's once 2008 is underway!


  • At 12:53 PM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    Re: Genetics and Proclivity to Race
    Well, finally! The concept that training and care and horsemanship may actually be the defining role in the successful career of a racehorse! That's why there have been so many horses that have succeeded beyond their pedigree i.e. John Henry, Seabiscuit and our own Financingavailable? I am elated that those horses with "minimal" pedigrees are scientifically capable of stellar performance. Now all we have to do is find the trainers with the knowledge of PROPER feeding,conditioning and training. Good luck with that, in my experience, they are a rare that genetic?

  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    Jen, in defense to my "harsh" statement, I think that farms like Hill N Dale and Ashford who breed well over 200 mares to some of their stallions and over 150 to the rest of their stallions are factories. I feel that if they are going to over breed their stallions they should give a little to an organization that homes retired stallions that otherwise would have found an unhappy ending. The Old friends donation fees aren't that high, 1/2 a stud fee would cover a paddock at Old Friends. I wasn't talking about retiring broodmares or ex race horses.

  • At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    is the green monkey out of some kind of platinum bloodline...great example of throwing away money...get more studies out to show how idiotic some buyers really are...treat any horse right and they'll run...great study...

  • At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lakeays - a gem, oh, now you've gone and done it!!

    Would have to agree with the remarks though,good quality trainers - horsemen (and indeed grooms) are a dying breed.

    I'm not sure why vets don't actually train, after all, they do 80% of the work in many cases.

  • At 8:03 AM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb! Having experienced first hand, some pretty bad horsemanship and judgement on correct maintenance and conditioning. As a breeder, I have worked very hard to ensure that the horses I raise are properly fed,maintained and schooled. Disheartening as it is to put them in a sale to bring less than the cost of putting them on the ground, it is worse when you know they won't get a chance with less than good trainers. A recent comment vilifying Hugh Graham for not having the track experience to get a trainer's license was provoking. Hugh Graham has been a horse trainer forever. His hands-on horse experience would far exceed 90% of the current Woodbine trainers. And, from articles I read, he re-schooled Mike Fox! As for vets doing 80% of the work, I suggest reading Cot Campbell's commentary on The Bloodhorse site. I know Dan Liebman has written numerous editorial pieces on the same issues, but coming from Mr. Campbell made me feel vindicated. I had to comment on that too!

  • At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How exactly did Graham re-school Mike Fox? I watched Bruce Smither gallop that horse in excellent fashion and if there was a turn around in that horse I'd be giving Bruce the credit.

  • At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a crock!!! Hugh Graham reschooling Mike Fox! and if he's bin a horse trainer forever, what has he done at Woodbine? big difference going over jumps as opposed to trainning a thoroughbred
    to race.

  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not that it matters too much, but how much on track expirience does Hugh Graham have? how did he re-school Mike Fox? I do know that the horse was in Ocala with C.C Hopmans all of last winter, how does Hugh Graham fit in?

  • At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Funny thing is if Audre Cappuciti could get a trainers license, dont you think Graham is a shoe in to get one!

  • At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anyone can get a trainers license if they can pass the test. I'm sure Graham can memorize the rule book and drug book and should have no problem with the practical test. He will be handed a stable full of expensive stock, will have to see what he can do with them.

  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Judy said…

    I know I'm a bit late on this one. There ARE a number of vets who train; at least 6 at Woodbine and more high profile trainers in Ky and NY. John Kimmel, Mark Hennig to name just 2. Bill Mott is the son of a veterinarian. And so it goes. I figure in the next decade; more trainers will have solid educations in animal husbandry, pharmacology, physiology, anatomy and the like. At least they should. If you spend a half a million on a horse, wouldn't you want someone who knows something to handle your horse? I ask you?

    Another DVM in Etobicokeville.

  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger Judy said…

    Sorry to pick up this thread so late. I'll try again since my last attempt crashed..
    There are a number of veteriarians who train on the track (Woodbine) but they can't "advertise" the fact. At least 6 that I can think of.
    In the US you have Mark Hennig, John Kimmel and John Fisher to name just a few. Bill Mott is the son of a veterinarian.
    We're out there.
    Of course I dream of the day when all trainers will have solid backgrounding in physiology, pharmacology, anatomy and nutrition. Wouldn't you want someone with solid background in these areas taking care of your half million dollar babies?

  • At 11:10 AM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    Re: Hugh Graham...August/September 2007 Canadian Thoroughbred...Pg. 23Julie Firestone Interview..."but Hugh felt the colt was just too excitable and wanted to teach him to relax. Graham felt the quiet surroundings of the Nelson Jones Training Centre in Ocala, where he and Hopmans trained the Firestone horses, would suit the colt better. He figured it was something like maybe he had not been broken properly. He wanted to work with him so he took him up to Ocala. He figured him out, taught him to rate and listen" End quote.
    As for who was galloping the horse, a conscientious trainer recognizes the need for a skilled and competent rider on a horse...probably Bruce Smither was the rider of choice. Then we have a few high profile trainers that started out careers as riders, even at Woodbine. I rather think it requires a sound knowledge of horses, an ability to analyze and evaluate their responses and a strong work ethic that produces trainers with consistent, long term success. As an owner, that would be my criteria.

  • At 11:31 AM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    I sent this letter to Bloodhorse Editor, Dan Liebman. I feel very strongly dis-inclined to the North American attitude of pharmacological and surgical cure-alls.
    Having just read Mr. Campbell's editorial piece regarding the fads of medical and surgical intervention on today's thoroughbred race horse, I am compelled to write and add my own novice voice to his comments. I am a new owner who has gone through considerable trauma in finding a trainer whose horsemanship skills are sufficient to be in charge of actual "training" of a horse. It has already been my experience that there is far too much reliance on questionable practices and injections to speed the process of conditioning/racing.
    As in all athletic endeavour, racing horses require knowledge and a systematic approach to their conditioning. Sadly, the knowledge of the horses' anatomical structure (alluded to by Mr. Campbell), the physical requirements of building the systems required of a racehorse, seem to be inconsequential to many and reliance on medical intervention to repair and enhance, all too common.
    With the dangerous practice of steroid use being examined in professional human athletes, I indeed hope that their use in race horses in North America becomes as clearly banned. It was with considerable indignation that I paid a veterinarian invoice for Winstrol injected into my 2 year old filly, when it's use was neither authorized or requested by me. As an owner, the attitude of trainers that their experience and knowledge is far superior to mine because they have been issued a trainers license, is an outrage. I would welcome rules that would hold owners responsible for drug infractions, as it would force trainers to ask before questionable practices are initiated. I would echo the sentiment that younger trainers have adopted a very remedial attitude to the conditioning of a racehorse. Renaissance Philosopher, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, suggested that all learning must be held suspect and questioned. Are veterinarian sciences immune to scrutiny and analysis? Just because something can be done doesn't mean that it should be or has any actual benefit.
    Reliance on drug and surgical intervention instead of hard work and actual training causes me to question whether the modern race horse is really inferior in soundness to his ancestors, or whether the "quick fix" has undermined his innate athleticism. Our society has made many things disposable and time is unavoidably counted in dollars, but perhaps to our own industry's detriment.

  • At 9:47 PM, Blogger Judy said…

    I totally and thoroughly endorse what you say. I am not, I repeat NOT, implying that surgical and pharmacological skills are all that is required to be a successful trainer. I am saying that these are merely tools to be used with discretion in the management of horses. Management is what it is all about. When to and when not to use these tools and many others, I may add. The best trainer I know who trained a Queens Plate winner and no longer resides in Canada, uses blessedly little pharmacology. How do I know? His individual owners' vet bills are preciously small. You can't lie about something like that. Veterinarians will always bill for their services. If the owner is not getting vet bills, nothing is obviously getting done.
    My point is: it CAN be done and it IS done: train without the repeated use of pharmacological agents and injecting joints.

  • At 9:56 PM, Blogger Judy said…

    At one time "racetrack medicine" and "veterinary medicine" were miles apart. ALL veterinary medicine is subject to intense scrutiny by the various governing bodies that regulate it. My beef is the various "surgical fads" that pop up every once in a while without any research to back it. Why is there no research to back it? Because the pharmaceutical bigwigs make no money off the "niche" that is racetrack medicine. They would rather focus on the real meat and potatoes that are Viagra and the new generation anti-depressants. So if real research dollars were spent on finding a cure for "Exertional Rhabdomyolysis" ("tying up") then we'd get a real answer to whether some of those "quack" cures work or not. No matter what field you are in: "Knowledge is power and everyone else's ignorance is your strength"


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