"Under A Tack"

My posse and I went out to Keeneland to watch the under tack show for the 2008 April 2-year-olds-in-training sale.  The sun was shining bright on my old Kentucky home, and the track had a slight breeze with the sounds of clapping thunder from hooves of the horses. The horses were anxious to get moving as they approached the stretch, rounding the final turn. It was funny to watch the horses act up when they were ready to go. I had not really observed such excitement from horses in that way. I loved when they began their breeze down the stretch.

photo: C. Wittmer

The battle for the fastest time to potentially bring the most money at the auction was amazing! I learned so much on this field trip. I finally understood the significance of watching the horses run a quarter mile versus one furlong (1/8 of a mile) and how much their times can increase their value at auctions. Not that their times will necessarily reflect what the horses will do in their career. 

Upon entering the track at the start of the under tack show, the first horse we saw ran a :9.4 in one furlong, which is impressively fast for a horse who still isn't fully developed both physically and mentally. That speed and first impression will sit with me forever. Hip number 7's world record breaking work was just awe-inspiring.

For more information on Hip 7 (Langfuhr Colt) see:

Of course, it was a good point my co-worker made that, "[the Langfuhr colt] will only run that fast once in it's life" while referring to the average times of the beginning of most races.  

To just sit and watch horse after horse fly by was amazing. I was enthralled by how fast, how powerful, and how much they seemed to enjoy it for the most part. I have seen racing at Keeneland before, but this setting was much different and I could focus and understand the horses so much easier. I could have probably sat there all day and watched these horses in their element.

My co-workers and I discussed pedigrees, finish times, sires, mares and all the ingredients that combine to cause a horse to run the way they do.

A tough point was the breakdown of the Jump Start colt.  It was not a bad breakdown, but he popped something at the end of his run and stopped using his left hind leg. The horse did not seem to be in too much pain and simply did not use that leg again. They did bring out the horse ambulance, but I figured they would just take the horse out and do surgery on the leg. Then this morning I found out the bad news that he was euthanized.

For more information on the Jump Start colt see:

I have now been bitten by the bug to gallop. I probably won't follow through with galloping because I don't want to learn all the other aspects, but it looks so dangerous and like a big rush. Yep, that sounds like fun. I have a friend who is an assistant trainer and uses galloping as her therapy. She always tells me stories about how much she loves it.

As far as the selling points of horses, I was educated on how much people will pay for a horse that runs well at the under tack show and how much difference a tenth of a second can make in bidding. The average times were :10.1 or :10.2, There were several :10 and a few under nine...which were brilliant to watch.

The Keeneland 2008 April auction will tell you what happened with all of the works and how they matter.  If you download both the Data Digest Preview and Results edition for this sale, you will be able to see the complete list of work times by hip number (the DD Preview) and compare it to how the horses sold in the auction (the DD Results).  The Data Digest is available on our home page or if you are a subscriber an archive is available on Bloodhorsenow.com.

Go watch an under tack show if you want to really connect with these horses in a new way.

Some argue on the strain of running so fast, so young and what effects such activities have on the horse. How do you feel about under tack shows? Is the risk of injury worth the price of showing a horse's talent?

photo: C. Wittmer

photo: C. Wittmer

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