The biggest finding I’ve made using my heart rate and GPS gear with thoroughbreds in training is the huge difference between works on dirt vs works on synthetic. To simplify, works on dirt are 50% harder on most horses – i.e. a 4F breeze on dirt takes as much out of a horse as does a 6F breeze on the fake stuff.
As long as the Triple Crown races are run on dirt, it is my belief that you MUST prep your horses on dirt tracks, as the number one rule in exercise physiology is that of Specificity, you get what you train for.
I liked Papa Clem and Friesan Fire for my Derby picks because they spent time on both surfaces. FF trained much at Keeneland and raced on dirt, Clem raced on poly early, switching to dirt over the past few months. MTB did the same with his 2 year old season spent at Woodbine before hitting the NM dirt trail, but I overlooked it because of his previous high Beyer of just 80.
As far as talent goes, of course Rachel Alexandra and Pioneer of the Nile are at the top of the list and can’t be discounted. I think POTN will get better through these 3 first dirt races of his life this spring, but I don’t see him in the money.
Preakness selections: Rachel on talent, Clem on superior work tab, Friesan Fire stays out of trouble for 3rd, with MTB lurking behind.
Ran out of room to talk about what I saw with Borel in a starter allowance race at CD last week, next post I promise.
Also this week in DRF we found a great piece about the different training practices of someone like Jack Van Berg and Gary Stute. Needless to say I favor Stute, and I hope to be able to explain why in this space shortly…