Rock and Roll

The Rock: 

Steve Haskin beat me to talking about the Royal Ascot meet in England, but let me say this: You all are probably sick of me praising turf racing, but after watching this eventful treat, I have learned a great deal. I always enjoy watching horse racing in Europe. Where they are dominated by turf racing of all sorts, including hurdles.

Why was I so amazed by watching the races this past week? Where else can you get 30 horse fields, 2 1/2 mile races, and finish the final stretch uphill! I watched three or four races and they were all impressive. The Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-1) with Yeats and a few other Aidan O'Brien wins, were captivating to watch since he seemed to have the magic touch this past week.

I will not recap the races too much, but you need to go read Steve Haskin's new blog and his post on this breathtaking event.

My last thought on this is: get some of those 2+ milers over here and breed them, because our horses would almost die racing that distance, figuratively speaking. More power to the European turf horses, and now I am starting to wonder how Curlin might do against Europe's top turf horses.

Curlin is mighty, but what are your thoughts on him and the turf?

Now the Roll...

IEAH has stepped up to the plate. The team many hate to love, may have started the ball rolling for the industry, with this profound statement:

"We have decided to withdraw all of our horses from medication, except for Lasix," IEAH co-president Mike Iavarone told Blood-Horse.

IEAH has started a movement that the horse industry will have to make, or most likely the government will take us there. I have read story after story on various groups with various ideas and various ways of implementing those ideas. Yet, only small steps were accomplished. I am very grateful those steps were taken and so many groups and people want change.

But, after the past months of reading about this issue, it seems ego, greed, and laziness have cramped the horse industry's style. Some have tried and unfortunately fell short, but IEAH has the money and backing to follow through. That is one perk of a partnership.

Now some will argue why even allow Lasix (which is now called Salix)? Especially looking at Europe. In Germany, you can not breed horses that have used Lasix. They want bloodlines to remain clean.

Lasix/Salix is there for bleeding, but may have performance enhancing effects as well. I say if they cut it back to that one legal drug, which does have a positive benefit from it, I can live with that. Really, I am impartial. Either one or none is fine with me.

I have gained some additional respect for IEAH. I like that they are leading off and taking one for the team. Sometimes this is what it takes. When things are so set in a particular way for a long time, when people are reluctant to change, sometimes it takes the new kid on the block, the outsider to bring a new vision or to start change because they see things differently or have not had the same exposure.

A light-hearted but prime example would be the movie Footloose. Kevin Bacon enters a town and creates a positive change that the community had a hard time accepting, but ended up being mostly harmless. Then again, there was not a billion dollar industry involved.

The IEAH guys are doing a great job in winning me over, even if there may be things hidden in the shadows. I tend to be an optimist and like to think people can change.

They are trying to get the industry to change and are willing to put money in, to promote and improve the image of horse racing. They are also responsible for the Ruffian Equine Medical Center in Elmont, N.Y. I have to say it: IEAH might have arrived to help save the industry from destroying itself in some aspects, at least from a governing point of view.

Of course, it isn't quite as glorious a picture as I just painted, because the hospital and other means they are pursuing are going to make profits. We do live in a capitalist society though, so I can accept that. If they are going to take risks and help lead to positive change for us, and if they are looking out for the welfare of horses, yet making a little money on the side off of it, I can take that.

Truth be told, IEAH has placed themselves under a microscope. I will be observing their culture closely. I do have my skeptical positions, but I am willing to think about trusting them if their actions are louder than words.

You can read more on this article here.

 

Side Note:

After all the serious discussion:

Extra Sexy Psychic won the Cozy Lace Stakes at Presque Isle Downs race over the weekend. Why is this name so awesome? Because of her pedigree: Freud—She's Pretty Too, by Housebuster.

Cleverness with class.

 Video: Footloose Music Video

18 Comments

Leave a Comment:

jj

The old great trainers used steroids like hay. Why are we letting PETA [who has proven again and again they are unaware or what really goes on in racing] as well as the general public, dictate how we treat our horses? Isn't the steroid testing after races enough? :(

24 Jun 2008 6:39 PM
needler in Virginia

Well said, and thanks. We need to hear more of this and less of "we can fix racing if we wait loooong enough."

Cheers.

24 Jun 2008 7:17 PM
Bellwether

Exposure & Promotion won't hurt the game either...Long Live The King!!!...Bellwether is one of the newbees on the block...

25 Jun 2008 1:39 AM
Jed Dog

I think it is refreshing that Curlin might race in Europe.

As for racing distances, I think they should cut out all race's under 7 furlongs.  That would force Breeder's  to breed for more stamina.  To me stamina and durability go hand in hand. I also think they should only allow 2YO's to start racing in August.  No spring racing.  This will allow them to grow a little more before they start training hard and get injected with who knows what medication.  I may be understating that.  Maybe they shouldn't start racing until they are 3.  Everybody wants the quick return. People should not get into racing if they are trying to make money. If they do make a profit, consider it a bonus. It must be for the passion of the sport. Money is the single most greatest corrupter of any institution. To all the breeders out there, BREED FOR THE LONGEVITY OF THE THOROUGHBRED, NOT FOR THE QUICK RETURN.  Sorry for the rant and little off topic.

25 Jun 2008 9:52 AM
Melissa G

Ironic that two days after IEAH decides to stop using all steroids, Dutrow gets handed a suspension for using steroids.  Maybe they'll find themselves a new trainer??

It was only last year the Smart Strike had a champion turf offspring named English Channel.  So you can make an argument there on Curlin's potential for grass. What would be really great to see would be a rematch between Curlin and Einstein on "Einstein's Turf" (pun intended) over July 12th weekend since Einstein seems to be a better on grass than dirt. Of course if Curlin hadn't been in the Stephen Foster, Einstein probably would have won....

25 Jun 2008 11:49 AM
Kelly S

If Curlin can handle turf, I don't think he will be disgraced.  He isn't really the typical weak American horse.  He seems more durable.  I like to think that he would be in the top 3, but I would have to see him race on turf here first before I make that judgement call.

I openly admit that I could not stand IEAH prior to the Derby.  I have never been a fan of these investment groups, as they are here to make money, not uphold racing tradition.  I still cannot stand the fact that they gave in to the early retirement trend with Big Brown; however, they gained a lot of respect from me for actually taking that first step towards eliminating medication.  A lot of people keep talking, but here are owners who actually did something.  Of course, there's always the possibility that they did it to negate all of the negative publicity they got during the TC, but who cares?  I applaud them, whatever their reasons.  The first step towards change is always the biggest.  I would like to someday see Lasix/Salix eliminated also, but this is better than nothing.

I don't agree with Jed on the distance and age issues.  Keep in mind, European horses (which seem to be a good standard to judge by) race at age 2 and race at sprint distances.  The problem doesn't lie in age and distance, it lies in speed itself.  It always seems we are pushing the breed to go faster and faster.  I like race times as just a point of reference, but we need to let go of the obsession with trying to get them lower.  Sprint races are a good way to bring a 2-year-old into racing slowly, but a nice time of 1:12 or so would be just fine.  They don't need to be able to go 1:10 or less in their first start.  A lot of people want to place the blame on the horses "being too young," but horses have been racing at age 2 all over the world since racing began.  There are other factors at work in the US that are causing our racehorses to be more fragile, particularly breeding.  You don't just get a sturdier breed overnight, but if enough pressure is placed on the industry, hopefully we can turn the tide and stop breeding genetic defects back into the pool.

That's just my long-winded opinion, though!  :)

25 Jun 2008 12:36 PM
Paula Weglarz

Would be BOLD and Ground-breaking IF it weren't for the fact that ANYONE who wants to run in the Breeders' Cup better be off the "junk" by October 1st (or sooner) since this is a "steroid-free" BC.  And btw, aren't most racing jurisdictions adopting the RMTC model rule this year? I think it's a goal of the NTRA, and other organizations to get this sport "steroid free" in 2009.

I call this "attention grabbing" - and find the "challenge" to other owners offensive.

Why didn't they do this PRIOR to the big RUN this year for Big Brown?

25 Jun 2008 2:27 PM
Paula

Still can't imagine that you could write "the team you love to hate may have started the ball rolling."

Talk about a cheap publicity stunt.

25 Jun 2008 2:40 PM
aspradling

Thank you all for your great responses and good insight. I definitely want Curlin to rock the Arc, and know what I think and feel, but am just curious what other people may be thinking. So thanks for that discussion.

Paula: I am afraid I didn't quite get what you mean.

25 Jun 2008 4:29 PM
Jed Dog

Kelly S, I see both points of view, but you kind of validated my statement about 2YO's.  Yes a long time ago they race at 2, but that was when they were a much sturdier animal.  Breeders tend to breed for speed, which in my opinion makes for a more fragile breed. To me it's a give and take thing. Think of it like a scale, one side has speed and fragility the other has stamina and soundness. Every once in a while you get a freak that has speed and stamina, like Big Brown.  But they are rare. My idea on 2YO's will never happen. From a economic stand point, it's ridiculous. I wish they could apply some restraint like you said by having slower times, but that wouldn't be racing. I wonder what the difference is in number of breakdowns between US and Europe?

I agree with you that there should be more pressure on the breeding industry to breed a sturdier breed.   Another crazy idea would be to have a regulatory body than would condone or disallow matings. If someone breed to a speed family sire and a speed family dam, they would not be allowed to register the horse. If you want to force it on them, that is the way it's done.  I don't think anybody would want that, but that is what a industry needs when it can't do what is right. I am not crazy, just thinking outside the box here.

26 Jun 2008 9:41 AM
DANYLSON

I AGREE TURF RACING IS AWESOME AND LONG DISTANCE IS GREAT TOO. I DISAGREE WITH THE THOROUGHBRED GETTING WEAKER OR FRAGILE,IT IS MORE WITH THE TRAINING AND OUR CRAZE WITH SPEED.THE HORSE OF TODAY IS FASTER,STRONGER THEN EVER JUST THAT THE RACES ARE ALL 4-8 FURLONGS AND THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM. WE NEED TO GO BACK TO THE LONG DISTANCE RACING. 1 1/2 MILE A RACE PER CARD WOULDN'T HURT AND THE BIG RACES NEED TO EXTEND(THE JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP NEEDS TO GO BACK TO 12 FURLONGS OR MORE AND THE BROOKLYN HANDICAP AS WELL, I THINK A CHANGE IN TRAINING TOO,TRAINERS ARE SCARED OF INJURIES THAT THEY ARE UNDER TRAINING...I CAN'T COMPREHEND HOW A 1200 POUND ANIMAL CAN'T RUN ALL OUT FOR AT LEAST 15 STARTS A YEAR..ONLY THE CLAIMERS DO IT AND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE BREAKDOWNS OF THOSE CLAIMER COMPARED TO HIGH CLASS HORSES...I CAN BET THAT THERE ARE FAR FEWER BREAKDOWNS WITH CLAIMERS THEN GR.1 RUNNERS...AT LEAST THAT IS MY OPINION,BECAUSE THEY RUN AND TRAIN MORE THAN THE HIGH CALIBER HORSE

26 Jun 2008 1:35 PM
Kelly S

Jed, I see what you're saying.  I have just been so frustrated lately by so-called "animal lovers" who feel that all animals should be treated with kid gloves.  I love animals, too, but I don't think they need to be handled like the slightest breeze will shatter them.  To me, that's more of an injustice to them, but I digress.  I would love to find out the difference in breakdowns between the US and Europe, also.  Adam, do you have any idea where this could be found?

26 Jun 2008 2:03 PM
aspradling

DANYLSON: Please double check your caps lock before posting, thanks for your input though =)

Kelly: I will research and post what I find for you. It would be interesting to see. Things that differ and may skew stats are that Europe has less horses, all turf racing and supposedly no drugs...

Page 2065 of the issue number 16, dated April 19, 2008. This article is an update on injury numbers in the US.

26 Jun 2008 2:51 PM
aspradling

Thanks to Amidala, I have the link to the story online.

www.bloodhorse.com/.../44533.aspx

26 Jun 2008 4:08 PM
Wanda

I submited a question to Alex Brown on Talkn' Horses about the chance of Curlin running on Woodbine's Turf course.He said they were looking at a start on turf if he worked good over it.That would be huge for Woodbine if he ran there plus SA has a string based there already.From my standpoint he's a home boy already cause he's related to many Canadian champions.

26 Jun 2008 6:59 PM
Bellwether

what the hell is wrong with 4 1/2f races...they put on a hell of a show & a ton of dough @ CT last week...Long Live The The King!!!

27 Jun 2008 5:07 AM
Jed Dog

I agree with you Kelly. I just think we have dug a hole for ourselves when it comes to breeding stronger boned thoroughbreds. Those PETA freak's and the like don't understand that what horses love to do is race and see who is the best. They get excited when they know they are going to race. If you have ever watched horses in the wild, it's always the strongest and fastest horse that leads the herd. I have never seen a horse that won more tired than the ones that lost. They know when they win. They is a photo that epitomizes the competitive nature of thoroughbreds.  It's call "The Savage" It's a old photo of a head-on stretch shot where two horse's are side by side and one is reaching over trying to bite the other on the neck. As fast as these guys run, that just blows me away.

27 Jun 2008 9:24 AM
Huh

Since Asmussen got hit with a drug violation anyone else think that just like Big Brown, Curlin could be running with steroids.

30 Jun 2008 9:53 PM

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