Animal Kingdom Leads the Kentucky Derby Trail of Tears
Animal Kingdom is finished for 2011 and 12 of 20 horses that made several early Derby watch lists are now on the shelf due to injury. That’s 60%. Is this just the nature of the beast, or can this number be improved upon? Trainers will blame breeders, breeders will blame race day medications, etc. and next year the cycle will repeat itself. Given the fact that American horses racing on turf break down 3x more often than those in other countries racing on the same surface: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/its-not-the-surface-stupid-us-turf-runners-300-more-likely-to-breakdown/ I tend to believe there are things US horseman can do to cut this number down significantly, perhaps even in half. But first, the list:
- ALTERNATION – missed the TC trail, but seems to be sound and ready for the fall
- ANIMAL KINGDOM – Derby winner, breaks synthetic jinx – then breaks his hock, NOT from clipping heels but rather from an ongoing issue says top vet Dr. Larry Bramlage: “Normally, no matter how hard a horse hits his leg on the ground in an accident, there is not enough force to show this type of uptake on the scan for a period of at least 10 days. This tells me that, like a lot of racehorses, he probably had a little something going on in there that he was dealing with.”
- ARCHARCHARCH – chipped ankle in Derby, retired
- ASTROLOGY – good 3rd in the Preakness
- BOYS AT TOSCONOVA – hurt early at 3 and taken out of training
- BRETHREN – also ran in Ark Derby, hasn’t returned to track yet
- COMMA TO THE TOP – chipped ankle in Derby, refer to many links of mine about this hard knocker out West who was my favorite
- DIALED IN – off in right knee, did Zito’s light training/racing for this colt cover up, or cause unsoundness?
- ELITE ALEX – missed the TC trail but still healthy we think
- JAYCITO – injured foot
- MUCHO MACHO MAN – sound, ran all 3 TC races, trained further and often compared to others despite ongoing farrier problems
- PREMIER PEGASUS – injured, hairline fracture at Santa Anita
- ROGUE ROMANCE – sidelined early with fractured foot
- SANTIVA – disappointing TC season, but emerged sound and pointed towards fall
- SHACKLEFORD – longshot almost wires Derby, wins Preakness, and respectable effort in Belmont, will he contest the Travers?
- SOLDAT – Derby disappointment, pointed towards fall, apparently sound
- STAY THIRSTY – good 2nd in Belmont, lives to fight another day
- THE FACTOR – speedball sidelined with fractured ankle
- TO HONOR AND SERVE – injured suspensory ligament
- UNCLE MO – poor Wood effort, rare infection of liver later discovered
So, what to do – keep our heads down and figure that horses are fragile and more than 1 of every 2 is doomed at some point? Blame it on dirt when even our turf runners are dropping like flies compared to the rest of the world? Or make an effort to figure out what interventions can help us to better control this wastage? Notice I said ‘control’ not ‘eliminate’ – as all athletes, equine or human, will get hurt in competition to some degree.
You can read hundreds of other blogs to gather viewpoints on breeding, artificial surfaces, and both legal and illegal drug use, but here we’ll concentrate on proactive measures to mitigate injury risk that have proven effective in other human sports.
- Proper pre-competition warm up and more proper conditioning for stamina, both of which can also cut our reliance on pre-race bute and lasix: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/a-natural-solution-to-address-bleeding-in-racehorses/ I might add in addition the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a method to enhance post exercise recovery in young horses, most specifically in lung and developing bone.
- Use of therapeutic practices as a preventative measure, rather than waiting for an injury to occur: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/be-proactive-to-ensure-peak-thoroughbred-performance/ 50 years ago, athletes only received massages when something was wrong, now it’s a common proactive measure to avoid injury in the first place.
- Stop this ‘less is more’ philosophy of training: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/aidan-obrien-sweeps-irish-derby-again-how-does-he-do-it/ After you read this piece about Aidan O’Brien, TJ Smith, and Woody Stephens, you will see how they actually believe that ‘less is indeed less’.
- Most importantly, stop guessing as to the condition, class, or ability, of your horse. Even the top horsemen in the world had no clue that Uncle Mo was less than 100% after watching him breeze 4F at Palm Meadows before his stumble in the Wood Memorial. No clue, whatsoever. This is the 21st century and there are numerous tools to help horsemen that did not exist 10, or even 5, years ago. It does not make you less of a horseman to take advantage of this stuff. Here is one such practice in use by the top endurance athletes in the world: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/what-uncle-mos-upcoming-bloodwork-will-miss/
Or do nothing and watch another season where 1 of every 2 of your top prospects fails to reach his potential due to injury. The choice is yours.
Albert Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.”