Interval Training and the Iron Horse: the 2008 Claimer of the Year

A magnificent article on the subject from the Thoroughbred Times staff writer Denise Steffanus this week about Antrim County and trainer Jay Wilkinson and their 2008 exploits:

Many of you may remember me writing about this topic 3 years ago, as I was the one who sold Jay the HR/GPS monitor used in the preparation of this 2-time Claiming Crown champ:

The TT article is a professional job, unlike my post, and quotes Jay extensively as he gives a horseman’s view of how/when he utilized interval training to turn this $5k claim into a $50k claim in just a few month’s time. My blog post gives some further details, including the actual PPs from the time frame in question – along with a litany of comments from non-believers.

Strange that the TT piece crops up 3 years after the fact, but nice to see a mainstream publication picking up on Jay’s amazing story. Jay is listed as Clifford Wilkinson if you wish to add him to your virtual stables, please send me a note if you wish to get in touch with him. He’s an old fashioned standardbred guy who interval trained this gelding and increased his earnings per start by 300% in a few short weeks.

Here’s why I think some standardbred training regimens can do wonders with thoroughbred stock:

After all, the winning time in the Hambletonian has improved at a 500% greater rate than that of the Kentucky Derby in the past 70 years, so they must be doing something right!-


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on February 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great stuff Bill
    It can be difficult to understand why heart rate monitors aren’t as common as horse shoes.
    Lets face it, a horse cannot be safely worked at high intensity day after day without its heart rate being monitored along the way.

    One way of rationalizing the reluctance of large numbers of trainers to using HRMs is to consider it along the same lines as changing from a paper office or business to an electronic or computer one.
    How many people were hesitant about electronic spreadsheets until one day they were forced by economics to take that step out of their comfort zone into the unknown, only to realize very quickly that there would be no going back.

    Once you have a HRM then you can invent your own training system, and steer your horse through a training regime that works for that horse.
    Its like the difference between a car and a train or bus, the car has a steering wheel that allows the driver travel directly to their preferred destination rather than to the station along with everyone else.

    One very successful NewZealand trainer told me that they considered HRMs to be too fiddly to set up. This may be an issue that time and technology will address.

    Some years ago I regularly traveled a particular road, and each day I would see the head of a horse looking out over the top of a treadmill trotting.
    Fascinated, I called in and found a lovely elderly couple training racehorses. The horses were trotting for extended periods at say 5:30 mile pace at 7-10 degrees incline.
    This seemed low key to me at the time as it probably did to them.
    Had these wonderful, brave, pioneering people used an HRM they would have realized then as I realize now that this particular workout would put the HR into the red zone very quickly and is not in any way “long and slow”
    Im not bagging these nice people at all. Its just an example of the value of good information.

    My humble advice, get a HR monitor, even on trial if possible.

    I consider this note to be on topic because without a HRM there is no Interval training.

  2. I’ve had more than a few horsemen tell me they tried interval training and failed miserably – and that it was a gimmick. None of them used a HR monitor, what a coincidence.

    It should be made 100% clear: trying this without one guarantees failure.

    Metabolic fatigue is what we are assessing during recovery intervals, not visible physical fatigue. Metabolic fatigue shows up on the inside and it shows up first – by the time you observe actual distress in the horses’s gait or behavior – it’s way too late.

  3. For those of you out there who are looking to contact Jay, here is his updated info:

  4. Bill,

    Thanks for the kudos! To answer your question, my piece about Antrim County and Jay Wilkinson appeared three years after the fact because it wasn’t a news feature. My training column explores different training techniques; this month’s topic was interval training. Who better to use as an example than Antrim and Jay?

    Denise Steffanus
    Contributing Editor
    Thoroughbred Times

  1. Pingback: Standardbreds Are a Much Better Investment than Thoroughbreds « ThoroEdge Equine Performance

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