Sound Off - by Dan Liebman

Something important must happen before a problem can be solved. It must be acknowledged that a problem exists.

After analyzing the data in a study released this week by The Blood-Horse, and listening to a discussion of the information by six industry participants, it is clear that a problem exists.

It is far from clear what must be done to fix it.

More than six months ago, The Blood-Horse began compiling data going back to 1970, searching for trends that relate breeding to racing. The results are not all that surprising. But they are very revealing.

Interestingly, the topic of where the breed is heading has come to the fore since the collection of data began, making headlines following the breakdown of Eight Belles in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

One of the key statistics in The Blood-Horse study is the average number of starts per foal, which was 20.42 in the 1970s, 17.84 in the ’80s, 16.89 in the ’90s, and so far this decade (crops from 2000-03) is registering 13.15. Starts per starter has seen a similar decline, from 29.03 in the ’70s to 16.72 today.

What makes these numbers more disturbing is that during the same period, the percentage of starters from foals has increased. So, more horses are getting to the track and starting, but they are making fewer starts.

For two hours July 11, The Blood-Horse invited Bobby Trussell, Rob Whiteley, Duncan Taylor, Rob Keck, Mike Pons, and Arthur Hancock III to discuss the trends as seen in the study.

A few snippets from the participants are revealing about their strong opinions on the subject of current breeding practices:

• Trussell wants to know why the horses he sends to race in Europe routinely make more starts and stay sounder than his domestic runners. He is quick to point out the differences in medication policies and produces a lengthy list of drugs administered to his U.S.-based horses so far in 2008. “We need incentives for the owners. If I can avoid $100,000 in vet bills a year, and my horses run more, not less, that would do it for me.”

• Keck sees a different mindset among breeders. “Success is now breeding a sales horse, not breeding a grade I winner,” he said. His best line: “We don’t have sound horses because people aren’t breeding to sound horses.”

• Whiteley stated his belief that the breed has not changed, but the handling of the breed has. With the current practices, he said, “We may not be damaging the breed, but damaging the industry. Perhaps what we need is a structural analysis of how the game has changed, not how the breed has changed.”

• Hancock, a proponent of federal guidelines, also decries medication and believes the industry would best be served by a return to the days of hay, oats, and water. “We need a level playing field, zero tolerance,” he said.

• Taylor, an advocate for a national governing body, said it is important to “give the fans what they want­—drug-free racing.” Because much of the evidence about breeding is anecdotal, Taylor said more studies should be done because “what we need to search for is the truth.”

• Pons said owners need to be in control of their stables. “What I see today is less horsemanship…if we don’t agree with the vet or the trainer, then we need to make a change,” he said.

Owners lose money, hoping to hit the one big lick. As Trussell eloquently stated about the industry: “We have the biggest collection of optimists ever assembled in one place.”

Hopefully this study, and others to follow, will help continue the ongoing dialogue on the current state of the Thoroughbred breed.

The Blood-Horse presents "Losing the Iron Horse?", an in-depth report, available as a free PDF download, which investigates whether the Thoroughbred racehorse is as tough today as it was 30 to 40 years ago. 

Video: Losing the Iron Horse? Part I Six prominent breeders and owners debate the durability of the modern racehorse. 

44 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Wanda

It seems to me that horses are run more often and have little or no down time now unless they have injuries that need prolonged rest. I'm not just commenting on "cheap" horses but the Allowance and Stakes horses too. In my part of the world (western Canada) these horses start training in Jan run till Oct and are put on an exerciser in Dec. No wonder the vet bills climb by the end of June. Less meds and more down time sounds simple but is seldom done.

22 Jul 2008 1:03 PM
Maggie

Go Mr. Hancock!  I totally agree...zero tolerance towards drug usage.  We should also implement the kind of reprimands that Europe and Japan and other drug-free countries bestow on those who juice up their horses.  Harsher punishments would send a red-lettered warning towards the trainers who give horses steroids.

22 Jul 2008 1:25 PM
George Rowand

What surely has changed in the past 30 years or so is the medication of horses. The impact of lasix and bute and all the rest is seen in the breeding shed where horses that formerly may never have had a racing career at all now are being allowed to pass on their genes ... and their genetic weaknesses. Drugs enabled many of them to be successful on the track, and now the breed is weaker because many of the stallions and mares that are being bred are genetically weak.

22 Jul 2008 2:34 PM
Ph:)

Hi Dan,

This study looks incredibly interesting and relevant. When will it be fully published?

This may have been touched on in the study: something to add to the mixture of breeding, medication, lack of horsemanship: in the past, every year racehorses were given time off from the daily toll of training. This allowed them time to heal - mentally and physically. Maybe economics and the change in the nature of ownerships (fewer owners with farms, more multiple partnerships, etc.) have something to do with this, but the horse is suffering the consequences of this change.

22 Jul 2008 3:01 PM
fb0252

I'm impressed by two things in Liebman's post.  1.  there is recognition creeping even into this that injury problems instead of being caused by drugs, whips, etc., in fact are a function of a decline in quality of training.  Arthur Hancock will never understand that, but it seems from this post that apparently some do.  That is encouraging.

2.  Pons has it right.  There's an owner vis a vis trainer problem that drains the sport.

22 Jul 2008 3:28 PM
WWSTP

Thank you for that great summary.  I am concerned that all the effort to find the "truth" will keep anything from happening.  We all know that the drugging is simply intolerable.  So, let's get it stopped.  We also know that breeders breed for money, not for the longevity and/or health of the horse.  Since these are living breathing beings - it's a no brainer to realize that that kind of greed needs to stop, now.  This used to be the Sport of Kings and I'd hate to describe in words what it has turned into in THIS country.  So much of what needs to be done is common sense based on values that this industry needs to embrace and enforce.  Let's get to it!!

22 Jul 2008 8:28 PM
Bob

1) Overseas, they run on more grass.

2) We breed to/from horses that came up lame and ran less often.

3) We train more and run less than in the past.

4) We should go to a zero tolerance, if your trainer gets caught, the trainer is out for a year, the owner is out or pays a HEAVY fine, which goes towards more testing fees. I speak as a first year breeder/owner myself.

22 Jul 2008 8:42 PM
Steve B

Mr. Liebman:

Thank you for all of your great work on behalf of this industry!

However, we are long past the time for any further studies, reports, commissions,etc. Like our similarly corrupt political process, everyone decries whatever the current problems are, and just "passes the buck" to some study group.

I believe that the time to act has long since passed. Immediately, both the Breeders Cup and the American Graded Stakes Committee MUST ban ALL race day medication, including Lasix. Why is this issue still being debated?

As soon as this is accomplished, all of the other raging issues will fall quickly into line. Failure to act in this regard should be considered as a crime against this industry. Anybody who challenges a ban of race day medication must be ridiculed and subjected to complete industry scorn. Anybody have a problem with this solution?

22 Jul 2008 10:05 PM
whoapony

I agree wholeheartedly that we should be medication free.  I find it interesting that my dressage and reining horses can legally compete on less medication than a racehorse, even though the potential for catastrophic injury is higher in racing.  I don't necessarily agree with the horses completely being off for a few months every year.  Train them lightly and give them turnout time, but don't completely stop on them.  It's hard on the body to go from heavy training to no regular exercise back to training.  Keep them working lightly in their off times to keep their muscles toned and the connective tissues strong.  This would allow the body to heal from the rigors of racing.  However, they should be on a farm with turnout.  Regular turnout is really good for horses.  It keeps them fresh mentally and physically.  

One more thought - do trainers keep the horses in full training year round because they EXPECT the horse to go lame at some point, therefore getting their time off?   Maybe trainers don't schedule time off because they feel they have to train the horse for the limited time that it's actually sound enough to run.

22 Jul 2008 10:25 PM
pamale

I have visited many overseas tracks and lived in australia and england at different times and the differences i have noted between u.s racing and foreign meets where horses routinely run every weekend include:

1. no medication period. at some overseas tracks, if a vet treats a horse on the grounds and does not report it, he is open to severe penalty, even being barred from the track for life. and one side benefit to that: a saving to the horse owner of several thousand dollars a year in vet costs. ownership becomes more affordable. also, horses can recover more quickly, not having lost electrolytes and otherwise recovering from drug applications, the after effects of which can vary from animal to animal, just as in humans.

2. horses run on turf, generally more forgiving than dirt.

3. horses warm up thoroughly in the post parade, often galloping out for a furlong or two, not trotting or walking alongside ponies (never see them overseas. they are another unwanted and unnecessary tax on the owner in this country.)

4. the breed is stronger because it does not rely on drugs.

5. foreign horsemen recognize the benefit of a lay off. economics, in part due to over-application of vet services in this country, cause owners to push their horses more and vets, often to the detriment of the animal, co-operate in either masking injury with drugs or trying to patch them up to please the trainer when what they really need is rest.

6. trainers overdo it in this country. in australia and england, workouts are far less common and certainly less punitive.

7. more emphasis on distance overseas and less on sprints.

23 Jul 2008 8:36 AM
Gordon

Why is it that claiming horses are running every two to three weeks without injury but stakes horses are held back by their trainers to race only six to seven weeks?  

23 Jul 2008 9:39 AM
UCLinden

Gordon, the answer to your question is quite simple ..... those stakes horses are only handled by a few select trainers , those trainers have a various amount of horses ;  stakes horse's are ridden by a few select jockeys ; so those trainers / jockeys can't be everywhere. Stakes horses are taken cross country.

Claimers usually have a home track , and they are accustomed to that particular track / barn / grounds , and usually have the same home jockey. Trainers of claimers know that horse is their bread and butter, whereas , the select trainers / jockeys always know there is another horse.

23 Jul 2008 12:03 PM
UCLinden

Talking about breeding ........... what do all of the following pedigrees have in common .........

Ribot ...... Forego .......  Dr. Fager ..... Bold Ruler ..... Halo .....Blushing Groom .....

Buckpasser ..... Secretariat ..... Holy Bull ..... Lil E Tee .....

Silver Charm ..... Riverman ..... Sunday Silence ..... Pleasant Colony .....

This is a breeding / pedigree question ... nothing about earnings, trainer , stakes races, etc.  Just about the pedigree itself.

23 Jul 2008 1:14 PM
Big Red

One fact seems to be overlooked - RACE DAYS!! NY, KY, FL, CA, PA, MD LA, OH, IL - all these states and maybe more run 10-12 months a year. If there are less race days (like in Europe) fields will be larger and tracks won't need to squeeze the same horses into running over and over. Of course less racing means less revenue for the tracks/states. But if the product improves and the fields are larger the betting opportunities are greater and in the long run will compensate for some lost revenue. The product - the HORSE - must come first!        

23 Jul 2008 2:35 PM
Skeptic

Liebman's first paragraph reads, "Something important must happen before a problem can be solved. It must be acknowledged that a problem exists."

First I'd like to ask Liebman: what's the problem?  Your article assumes that I know it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the number of starts per horse declining over time, is there?  It might be just a reflection of a changing training strategy to husband horses' energies and health in order to focus on select races.  That seems to be the current fad.

I remember when Billy Turner's light racing schedule for a young Seattle Slew was seen as radical and risky.  But now it seems to be accepted as best practice.

For some reason, people are falsely assigning a nefarious set of causes to something that has a very reasonable basis.  The "drugs, drugs, drugs" mantra seems is beginning to seem like a hysteria that latched onto an imaginary "problem."  I'm not saying that cheating doesn't exist, but that simultaneous trends of fewer starts and higher vet bills might not signal causation.

24 Jul 2008 5:31 AM
LORY PHILLIPS

from all directions I am seeing quality thoughts.I feel that it is a concensus of all these things.

#1.horsemen try nowadays to conform the horse to their training methods not the methods to the horse.

#2.medications are much more liberal-bleeders may be a combo of environment and the desire to run back too quickly for the horse's best interest.This is in addition to the success that a first time lasix horse shows.

#3.The downside of stopping on a claimer for a rest and the real threat of losing that horse on his first out coming back.The states that allow a horse to run in same price company and not be claimed coming off of a lay up should be held in high regard.

#4 All or most of us breeding to the fastest or best bred horse with out regard to his soundness or length of career.Horses like street sense are fantastic but the lure of him having a billion dollar stud career stopped what might have been a unbelievable racing career. do we really know what might have been?

24 Jul 2008 11:33 AM
Larry

you know what, I have not read one thing that seems offbase. I might as well throw in my two cents worth

of things that will never get done. Every racing horse must have onfile front ankle and knee xrays (90 120 days seems fair)kept with foal papers

24 Jul 2008 2:52 PM
Gregg Flanigan

Though I may lay some blame with the vets & breeders, I overwhelmingly fault our trainers for under-racing our horses. Certainly there is a lack of horsemanship in the training field but I believe that most trainers lack the confidence and the fortitude to start more races per horse. The "herd mentality" prevails. That is- there may be less cristism (SO HE THINKS) for a losing trainer IF his training/racing schedule is similar to his peers. Many recall Woody Stevens winning the Met Mile and Belmont w/ C Cielo in a 5 day period .... years ago. But also recall that Godolphin's Suroor won the Gr I French Derby and a Gr I race at Royal Ascot with Shamardal, within 9 days .... 2 years ago.

24 Jul 2008 3:07 PM
UCLinden

I listed 14 horse's above, and had asked what their pedigree's had in common ...... The answer is ....

NONE of those 14 horses had

Northern Dancer , Native Dancer ,

Raise A Native , Seattle Slew , Mr. Prospector or In Reality , in their pedigree.

Also, Seattle Slew and In Reality do not have any Northern Dancer , Native Dancer , Raise A Native or Mr. Prospector.

24 Jul 2008 3:18 PM
Karen in Indiana

I just saw the video about the modern racehorse and would like you to know that I agree with what Rob Whiteley said, that it's not the horse that has changed, but what we're doing with them and to them.

It wasn't surprising to me to see Big brown, an awesome horse, lose the way he did, when his schedule basically turned him into a couch potato. To expect any horse to be penned up as long as they are each day in a stable and trained on day after day and then come out and be a top-notch athlete every time the gate opens is not realistic. Horses need activity, socialization and down time. Lava Man is another example. His heart is just not in racing anymore. He's been checked physically and nothing was found to be wrong with him. Horses are fed, medicated, trained, and those things can be done on a schedule, but how do you care for the mental and emotional needs of that horse? When a trainer has 40, 50 or more horses under him and spread here and there, how is that trainer going to know when to back off or when a horse needs a break? If we stop training horses year round and give them time off when they need it, they'll be back better than ever.

I read biographies of horses of the past, and,yes, they were typically raced more often; but they also had much more time out of the stable and in a pasture. One of the benefits of that would probably be better bone strength. Even in older adults (humans), weight bearing exercise increases bone density. What is the difference in bone density between a horse kept in a stable 20+ hours a day and pulled out to exercise versus a horse allowed to roam and then exercised? I know that's not practical when a horse is at a track for races or training, so maybe the answer to that is not to 'store' them at the track all the time.

At the end of the day, while they run for our pleasure, we should keep in mind that they are after all living animals, not just investments.

24 Jul 2008 9:09 PM
Alison

Karen, I definitely, like you, agree with Whitely.  It is not the horses who have changed, but our methods that we use with them.  Training a horse is a balancing scale between the conditioning and the real races.  When horses are trained harder, as they are today, they race less often.  In the "old days" when horses were, supposedly, more durable, they raced more often and were not trained as hard and for as much speed as they are today.  It is genetically impossible for the entire thoroughbred breed to turn around its general durability in 30 - some years.

25 Jul 2008 12:18 AM
Tom V. David, DVM

Until the allowed levels of anabolics, corticosteroids and nsaid's are removed from the horse on race day, none of the other problems in racing can be addressed because they are compromised by medication. Removal of the theraputic medication on race day will allow us to better evaluate breeding,track surface and training patterns. Medication can be changed overnight and the result will give us a clean model to study while racing continues.

25 Jul 2008 10:57 AM
Giraffe

Seems like I remember one of Better Talk Now's connections saying that Better Talk Now was used for trail riding when he wasn't racing and that this was a way to keep him fresh and from getting bored, but still providing exercise.  Wasn't Afleet Alex's trainer also thought "strange" for getting Afleet Alex out twice a day for exercise?  Horses are herd animals; they need to be given time to socialize -- time to just be horses.  Someone told me years ago about a halter mare that was so "pampered" that she was never allowed to be around other horses.  Since she hadn't socialized with other horses, she didn't know what they were and, right after delivering a foal, killed it.  

25 Jul 2008 12:15 PM
Ed Martin

Except for salix, raceday medications ARE banned in virtually all US jurisdictions.   The issue is one of legal substances being administered by licensed veterinary professionals supposedly caring for their paitients to maintain equine health.  The rules are in place.  The testing is in place.   What is out of place is the mindset of those who feel that they must do anything to win, regardless of whether the horse truly needs it or not.   Where are the state vet boards???????

25 Jul 2008 2:53 PM
pamale

yes indeed, where is self regulation, responsibility and restraint in the vet industry? when an extremely sound and 'well' horse like mine comes back with a $700 vet bill for one month, you know that trainers need to 'just say no.' the pressure is on the trainers to use this medication and on the owners to agree to pay for it. example: in the video of this panel, arthur hancock says he was told (or words to this effect) when he challenged the need for medication: 'everyone else is doing it and you want to win don't you?' the same situation is played out every day on racetracks across this country. but those 'legal' medications medically mask nastier substances that are sometimes used to block sensation in fractured knees etc. the only way to rid the sport of bad drugs is to make illegal all drugs, including salix and bute.

25 Jul 2008 4:05 PM
Bob

All stallions with public offered seasons should show a Vets certificate, showing any surgeries, or such. Buyers of seasons can and should request a certificate indicating all relevant material.

25 Jul 2008 8:23 PM
UCLinden

During the recent congressional hearings, there was discussion about horse racing needing ONE central unbiased head organization. During the hearings it was said that horse racing has had many a year to get itself together, and hasn't. Each track does its own thing , based on what it thinks is best.

In this column, various points have been brought up. Also, presently there is a video / commentary called " Losing The Iron Horse ".  The iron horse video is a group of people whose interest's lie at the top sector of horse racing. What about hearing from the normal everyday small person, the one's who can't afford to breed to the better quality stallions.

Perhaps, just perhaps, that is part of horse racing's problem ....... those owners / breeder's who can't afford the top flight stallions. Perhaps not only might it help the quality of horse's , but also more competitive horse's , giving the racing public a reason to come to the track, to see a " homegrown " product.

But, I think it is time for horse racing , if it wants to survive , is to have one unbiased central

head / commission such as the MLB, NHL, NBA , NFL,etc. It is time for us to live in the present and pave a way to the future , as right now , we talk about how great the horse's were of the past.

26 Jul 2008 7:13 AM
owner trainer

The eye should be on the vets. If you ask them for two radiographs and they take eight who pays the difference?  They have to be held accountable as well.  There is no reason for them not to provide an estimate for their work and stick to the work that is requested. If they can't THATS A PROBLEM

26 Jul 2008 4:28 PM
Tappiano

The biggest problem with a survey of this kind is that it does not take into account how many starts a horse COULD make if he had not been whisked off to stud. Years ago, when books were limited to 40 mares there wasn't the same incentive, so horses made more starts. How many arc, french derby, english derby winners ever set foot on a track at age 4? Starting in the early 80's with the Northern Dancer boom, these horses averaged 5 starts. Could they have run more, yes. Would it have impacted the stats, yes. There was a story years ago on TV about the owner of Secretariat's last daughter and he said he was not even going to bother to put her in training because she was too valuable. How many others felt the same way? Enough to impact the number of starts his offspring made?

The very people contributing to the current issues are all contributing, directly or indirectly to the decline in starters. It is the breeders who choose to send their horses to the studs that will then produce a horse that will make the most money in the sales. The breeding farms contribute by fighting over breeding rights before the horse has finished his career. If there was a turning point in this country, it was Conquistador Cielo, who never ran after the Travers. He'd already been syndicated, his owners made money and the breeders lined up to send mares to him.

Right now, the trend is two starts before the derby simply because the owners now the money is just around the corner.

26 Jul 2008 8:13 PM
Mary Kohn

The industry data has to be more accurate and reliable. The Equibase chartcallers need to be trained so all the charts match what all the racereplays show.  They need to be able to report if a start was good for all and not overlook all the bumping. Take the time to put it in the chart notes.

In the Equine Line reports the mare progeny has to be accurate as to number of foals by a certain stallion. The consumers of the data need to be able to call in corrections. Right now you can't call in corrections if you notice an error, the Equibase data is deemed to be provided "as is."   Data and statistics are only as good as those who collect it. If the Industry owns the data, lets make sure it remains accurate.

26 Jul 2008 8:14 PM
Racefan66

Was there ever truely a day when horses ran on hay, oats, and water or are we just kidding ourselves by painting the old times with that brush?  They just proved that the great Phar Lap died of an arsenic overdose... likely from the arsenic tonics that were commonly administered.  Perhaps the tonics and "medical procedures" (pin-firing, etc) from older times don't compare in their damage to the breed as we attribute to the supplements, drugs, and surgeries currently in use, but I'd be interested in a study to evaluate what types of things have been used to improve performance over the course of racing history.

26 Jul 2008 11:39 PM
outcross23

Dear Folks,

Thank you for input on this very pivotal matter regarding the future of our beloved sport. I have been in the industry for ten years, and have noticed that the dynamic of claiming races have changed dramatically since racinos have made it profitable for "cheap horses" to earn livings for less than expert trainers. It is not uncommon at Charles Town to see a horse that ran in a state bred stakes, run for 4000 next out. It is more important to train to the condition book than to allow the horse to let us know when their ready to run. Too many racing days and an abundance of cheap horses have made a reward out of mediocrity.

My next point is this. What qualifications are needed to become a sire. It seems the Thoroughbred industry has 2 qualifications. A farm, and a set of testes, thats it. How can we create guidelines for the stallion book, without seeming snobbish for exclusions. If we look at other breeding industries, most have inclusion criteria as decided by industry leaders. Our industry it seems as the leaders are the ones pushing brillance down our throats. I challenge anyone to find more than 10 horses from the FST yearling sale that just finished that are free from Northern Dancer and Raise A Native.

My endnote,regarding the data in the iron horse study, did anyone notice the diversity of sire lines in the 60-70 and 70 and 80, then look at the 90s and 00, the commercial market came in and drastically changed the apparatus for owners to obtain horses. Gone are the days of Tartan, and Calumet. Here are the days of free agency and decline of horsemanship.

Thank You  

27 Jul 2008 9:26 AM
pamale

many excellent comments on this board. what it tells me is that finally this industry is recognizing that it has huge problems and those problems need urgent attention.

i agree with uc linden on the need for a central, guiding regulatory authority a la the nfl, nascar etc. the current state of the industry cries out for one strong hand, not 38 weak hands as we have now, with 38 different drug regimes and the penalties handed down for infractions so wildly inconsistent (mostly they amount to nothing as trainers continue to train through suspensions via proxies etc.) that they are ineffective. the current splintered structure - with stakeholders at war with each other - is a recipe for extinction. an empowered central racing authority enacted by congress with full co-operation of the 38 racing states, would be better placed to address problems which to me seem overwhelming and insoluble at this time.

27 Jul 2008 9:49 AM
Wanda

I see lots of comments that make perfect sense on this blog. It all boils down to the same thing no race day meds.It's time to stop this practice and make a level playing field. Maybe then we will see a return to the days when mares are bred to produce a racehorse, not a sales horse. One comment about the "little guy" breeder. Nobody has any business breeding a backyard racehorse and that includes me. By that I mean a cheap cheap mare to a cheap cheap stallion,which I did twice.I got lucky and the second one made 100,000 bucks lifetime.There's to many stallions standing at stud and to many cheap mares producing useless racehorses.I'm going to catch hell for saying that but I still stand by what I say.So where do all these animals go to when they don't pay their way? I get to read about it in the paper,horses left to starve etc.That bothers me the most.All those people that "love horses" and their animals haven't been wormed in two years or had their feet trimmed in a year that makes me sick. Sorry for being somewhat rude but it's how I see it.

27 Jul 2008 11:54 AM
Garrett Redmond

Many interesting points of view, but it seems clear most do not have any practical, hands-on experience or money invested directly in the different sectors of the business.

Look at comment from WWSTP.  In short,it says:" Breeders breed for MONEY ... that kind of GREED needs to stop." Tell us, WWSTP, do you work for MONEY ? Therefore, by your own definition, are you GREEDY?  If anybody wants to earn a living, it must be for money.  If WWSTP lives on inherited wealth, then working for money may seem greedy!

Why the rush to blame veterinarians for the 'crisis'?  A vet cannot medicate a horse except at the request of the owner or owner's agent.  So, if an owner is upset by bills, it is his/her own fault.  It is amazing what owners will cheerfully pay and what they will complain about.  Example:

Horse is a bit "off", so trainer asks vet to look it over.  Vet examines horse and recommends two weeks off training - just stall rest.  The vet sends a bill for $50 for his time and expertise.  The owner complains about a bill for "just looking".  Consequently, many track vets do not charge for such exams.  More likely, most owners/trainers want to run a horse, so rest is not welcome. If pressed, vet may say, "You could give him XXX twice a day for three days and keep him going, especially as the owner expects him to run next week."  Trainer says "OK", and the owner gets a bill for $100.  Tell me, who made the decision, better $100 for medication than $50 for just looking?

A real problem is too many "trainers" are sure they know more than any vet.  So they want to prescribe.

27 Jul 2008 2:31 PM
Neon green

Wanda, What is a cheap horse? Is it a yearling filly that somebody paid 35 thousand for that ultimately could not win 3 thousand and got sold for $750 before she turned five.  Is this cheap?  Did the person who bought her as a yearling think she was cheap?  Did the person who paid $750 think she was cheap? What would Wanda do with her?

28 Jul 2008 3:05 PM
Neon Green

outcross23 nobody with business sense would enter a horse in the FTK sale if there was no market for it! And what is wrong with dropping a stake horse to get a check? Haven't you heard the adage "Put your horse in easy company?"

28 Jul 2008 3:27 PM
UCLinden

I'd like to say, it's nice to see various comments from everyone. Yes, you do care.  

There's something though that is on my mind.  I'm sure most of you know of the various entertainment venues that exist ...... whether it is professional sports , the men's and woman's golf associations , and yes , even the WWE (  wrestling ).  All of these are able to draw substantial attendance.

What do you feel are the factors why horse racing does not draw large crowds, with the exception of The Triple Crown, Breeder's Cup, etc ??  What do you feel horse racing should do , look into , in order to have people come to the track ?? What are we lacking ??  Does horse racing need a better marketing program ??

On any race day , what happens ? The horse's are brought to the paddock , saddled , parade around the walking ring and head to the starting gate. The race is completed, the winning horse comes to the winner's circle, the winner's photo is taken , horse heads to barn.  What if we change that and give the public an opportunity to take photos of winning horse ( Grade 1 races only ). After winner's circle picture is taken, the horse is then taken back on track, where the public can take their own photo's. People take picture's of their favorite ballplayer, why not a race horse ?  Give the fan's something to connect to ..... something at no cost ... show our appreciation to them.

It's just an idea ....... what's yours ???

28 Jul 2008 6:06 PM
ArchDandy

If in other countries they have more turf races and longer races...then the only reason to breed for this here is to make those races exist here. I have seen hundreds of what might have been good turf routers end up in claiming dirt sprints because they cannot win....and have no races to be run in to succeed

28 Jul 2008 6:59 PM
KAB

I waited and then listened to all three parts of the video in one session. I then listened again. It reminded me of the children's game, "Hot Potato", where no one wants to get caught holding the object when the music stops.

All had reasons & solutions for/to the problem of thoroughbred stamina and soundness. It appears that no one found problems within their own realms of the business, and the solutions for any problems also resided within other then their own areas of the business.

This is not to say that any of the problems mentioned were not real, or that any of the solutions suggested were not good. This is to say we all must see and admit to the problems  upfront in our own areas of the business.

The problems are multifaceted, but we each must address the problems we have helped create. When we have solved our individual contributions to the problem, then we can address or put pressure on the other areas that continue to bring about problems.    

29 Jul 2008 9:08 AM
Wanda

What is a cheap mare/stallion? By nothin out of nothin.Produced nothin or sired nothin.And I'm pretty sure if your a backyard breeder you ain't paying 35G's for a yearling at F-T Kentucky.

29 Jul 2008 10:33 AM
Blender

Wanda, Did you break even or make money breeding "a cheap cheap mare to a cheap cheap stallion,which I did twice.I got lucky and the second one made 100,000 bucks lifetime."

Why condemn others from enjoying horses like you did?  Do you still own the horses you bred?

30 Jul 2008 10:42 AM
Wanda

Sorry guys I'm not going to debate this after today. I'ts my opinion and I don't believe people should breed the odd racehorse if they are not commited to spending money and doing it the best they can do. Breed to produce a racehorse not some ill-bred,crooked legged,no heart mare that doesn't make a dime then turn around and breed her to a cheap stud with no pedigree or race record. That's what I object to. All those foals that don't get a good home,what happens to them? I've seen people who love everything they raise but they don't worm them get their teeth done or trim them.If you are going to raise these kind then be prepared to look after them properly and not sell them for 500 bucks to someone who can't afford to keep them. That's what bothers me,everyone has good intentions but the bottem line is there's to many unwanted racehorses out there and they all don't get saved.

30 Jul 2008 7:52 PM
Wanda

Blender in answer to your question. The first one I raised sold as a broodmare for paint horses,the second one lives in retirement at my inlaws. They built a barn just for him and found him a buddy for company.My sister-inlaw goes out every morning and feeds him carrots before she drives to town to go to work. Thanks for asking.

30 Jul 2008 11:10 PM

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