Dutrow Wins King’s Bishop on Short Rest with Claimer
‘What is the statistical probability of winning two stakes races 3 days apart?’
‘Will the NYRA conduct an inquiry?’
‘Bill Mott, Michael Matz, or Graham Motion would never race a horse on two days rest.’
This is just a sampling of the ignorant, asinine comments from the unwashed masses after Rick Dutrow’s Willy Beamin won the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga on Saturday, 3 days after winning the Albany Stakes with his $25k claimer.
Where to begin?
First off, the entire world has horses win big races on such short turnarounds – and it’s never met with the slightest hint of suspicion. Consider Coolmore’s So You Think, the NZ bred worldwide superstar: in 2011 he ran 3rd in the Melbourne Cup a mere 3 days after a victory at 10F and twice previously in his career Down Under won two big races within a week for conditioner Bart Cummings – considered perhaps the top horseman in Australian history. Cummings has won 12 Melbourne Cups in his career, most times those winners also won another big race in the same week leading up to The Race That Stops a Nation.
Even here in the US, Churchill Downs has a race called the Kentucky Derby Trial that is historically contested on the Tuesday before the Kentucky Derby. Today’s race fans probably wonder why it’s not called the Preakness Trial, but in the past it was a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby as Assault finished off the board in that race 3 days before winning the Triple Crown in 1946. And after winning the Triple Crown was it off to the breeding shed? Hardly, as the Club Footed Comet then won the Dwyer Stakes 2 weeks after his Belmont triumph. That’s FOUR Grade 1 triumphs in 42 days with multiple 8F breezes in between for a chronically unsound horse.
Of course, Cummings, O’Brien, and other top international trainers also gallop their horses further than 1.25 miles a day, and partake of speedwork more frequently than a 4F burst twice monthly, and don’t race on drugs, etc. Here’s what one top Australian trainer tells me:
“I do interval training 7 or 8 days out from the race, with 3 reps at 32kph on a 4 degree incline on my treadmill. Each rep is 2min in duration with a 2min rest between. Then a hard 800m gallop out (breeze) on a Tuesday before a racing Saturday.”
Secondly, perhaps all the criticism is because of Dutrow’s disgusting record of medication violations. Can only he win 2 big races in a week because he is the Frog Juice King of the Eastern Seaboard? Add to the fact that Willy Beamin was a $25k claim five short months ago, and the red flags are certainly flying. It’s well documented that supertrainers like Doug O’Neill with Lava Man and Todd Pletcher with Caixa Eletronica have won millions in purses with these former claimers, but even well respected trainers flying under the radar at other circuits have had great successes on a much smaller scale:
Look, certainly Dutrow is no saint – but to accomplish what he did with Willy Beamin this past week is not unheard of in this game. I think the most appalling aspect of the Willy Beamin saga is that it’s front page news when an American racehorse wins 2 races in 4 days – yet that feat doesn’t even register as a story in other racing jurisdictions around the world, and it didn’t used to be a big deal here in the US, either.
P.S. Quote from Dutrow: “There’s no way I could tell you the how or why of it,” Dutrow said. “So far, what we’ve done works. It makes no sense for me to try to figure it out.” -
This wasn’t the first quick turnaround met with success for the gelding, as he also won the Mike Lee Stakes on four days rest. Here’s why it works with some horses Mr. Dutrow, the concept is known as supercompensation:
Simply put, when an exercise session (or race) stimulates the athlete just right, not too much or too little, he comes back stronger in a relatively short window of time. Typically, a horse must be 110% sound to take advantage of this bounce, and I’m sure Dutrow has miscalculated in the past – but no other trainer even gives it a try.
Remember, just winning a G1 in a fast time isn’t a sure sign of fitness, doing so AND coming out of the effort stronger is what true thoroughbred fitness is all about.