Monthly Archives: August 2013
Above is the actual machine in operation near Paris, KY. Only used a handful of times and retailing for $115,000 this model from Equigym is now available for purchase, please contact the owner directly – as all offers will be considered:
Dana Soucy, Sapphire Creek Farm
And here is a brief video of the machine in action:
And if you are the adventurous type, here is a revolutionary piece of equipment that provides Intermittent Hypoxic Training:
A while back I wrote about how the 2 longest shot Kentucky Derby winners of the modern era both had altitude training in common:
In some countries, this can be managed due to huge geographical differences in elevations between training center and racetracks, but that is mostly impossible in the US outside of New Mexico.
However, Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) has a host of benefits outside of conditioning racehorses, most of which I must confess I never considered.
1. You can acclimatize horses prior to significant air travel.
2. You can enhance the reproductive process in mares and foals by stimulating oxygen metabolism.
3. You can mitigate some of the damage due to EIPH. Remember, even racing with Lasix doesn’t always completely stop pulmonary bleeding.
See the system in action here:
As with the treadmill, please contact the owner directly with any offers. Here is the contact info:
Leonie Seesing, Equigym
I firmly believe that in the future we will develop the next Secretariat through advances in technology applied to veterinary care and the conditioning process, rather than wait for the genetic lotto balls to magically appear.
Thanks to blog reader Jared for the heads up on this video from the legendary conditioner D. Wayne Lukas, recent appointee to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, talking briefly about pulmonary bleeding in racehorses.
Mr. Lukas is an anomaly in our sport today; in addition to being extremely competitive here in 2013, he was also around the game in the good old days – and talks about that here. How does D. Wayne figure we should prevent bleeding? By only sending 100% dead fit racehorses to the post, that’s how. Good for him.
He also mentions how veterinary advances such as the endoscope should come into play, although he doesn’t specify how. I did exactly that for him in this blog post from November 2011:
Lots of good pics in there for reference as to what the various grades of pulmonary hemorrhage look like through a scope. Please check it out before reading on if you want to know the ‘how’.
Lukas will now be in a position with the KHRC to influence how we move forward, away from raceday drugs if he so desires.
In a world without Lasix, perhaps an entry into the high profile 10F Kentucky Derby has to ‘prove’ his horse’s fitness during a 6F work 7-14 days before the big race. It’s not enough just to post a gaudy 6F/1:10 figure on the worktab, but can that same horse show a Grade 2 or better on the scope post workout? Because if he can’t – he’s gonna bleed like a stuck pig on raceday with 4 more furlongs at maximum effort without diuretic use.
That 3yo would have also had to ‘prove’ his fitness a few months earlier before a 9F Derby prep by breezing 5F in 1:00 or better, again demonstrating a Grade 2 or better score. Keep working backwards to his 2yo year and you have 8F races and 4F breeze ‘tests’ for significant EIPH in the absence of Lasix use.
There is still a place for bleeders in this game; give them the injection and race them in non-graded action; but please remove them from the future stallion/mare pool.
I talk to many trainers on the backsides of tracks around the world, and when the camera isn’t on them (and they trust you to keep quiet) they become much more truthful. Just last month a trainer repeated to me a phrase I had read at some point in the past few years that is quite insightful:
With regards to fitness: “Half the time I am guessing, and the other half I am hoping I guessed right.” Judicious use of the scope can remove any ‘guessing’ from this process as pictures don’t lie.
My next post will deal with the concept of ‘Performance Profiling’ – where actual physiological data is collected during/after races to quantify the age old concept of ‘It’s not how fast they go, but how they go fast.’ We need to objectively define racehorse fitness; as doing so can reduce wastage, increase handle, and lessen our reliance on drugs.
Think those Moai know a good stallion prospect? Easter Island has always fascinated me, but for some odd reason it surprised me to realize that this rocky outcropping 2,100 miles from continental South America is a special territory annexed by Chile. It does have a closer neighbor, as about 50 people live on Pitcairn Island – 1,300 miles to the West. Even further West, another several hundred miles, lies Palmyra Atoll – roughly 1,000 miles south of Hawaii – scene of a real-life murder mystery detailed in a cool book by Vincent Bugliosi:
How the hell does one get murdered on an uninhabited desert island? Crazy.
Back to the task at hand. I know a gentleman in Chile who has a group of breeders interested in purchasing an American stallion for permanent stud duty in South America. Budget is always a concern, and these fellows can spend around US$100,000 for a resident stallion prospect (no shuttling), or perhaps would consider renting a stud for the breeding season. Scat Daddy has been a rousing success thus far.
A Kentucky-bred is preferred, and most current standing studs in Chile are not graded stakes winners – so even G3 black type would be a plus from the marketing side. Please submit any possibilities to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with my connections. Thanks!
Bettor beware, indeed. Current information available to consider when betting on the races is 2 dimensional: numerous variables related only to the stopwatch and the endless track variants. Nothing comes from the horse itself – the invaluable 3rd dimension. What I aim to do is quantify the old adage: ‘It’s not how fast they go, but how they go fast’.
First, some history-
In 1992 the Beyer Speed Figures become a permanent fixture in DRF past performances. Len Ragozin’s ‘The Sheets’ have been around since 1982 at least, and Jerry Brown’s Thorograph service has public mentions going back to 1989. Pace figures, in all their permutations, seem to have their origins since at least the early 1980’s as well – and there are simply too many to mention without leaving someone important out. Suffice it to say, bettors haven’t had any significant new sources of data for the last 2 decades. Yet we expect gamblers to continue to play despite higher takeout, smaller fields, fewer starts per horse, etc.?
Trakus has recently made some inroads with their advanced timing technologies including ‘distance traveled’ and fractional times to the hundredths of a second, but still we are just scratching the surface of what can be done. The Trakus task is achieved by a small chip placed inside each saddlecloth, that’s it. Equipment placed around the track is also necessary for the system to operate, and that ain’t cheap. But my solution is quite inexpensive.
In order to increase handle, both from whales and from new players, the industry needs another innovation in handicapping data/analysis – physiological information gleaned from the horse itself during competition. This can be accomplished with a simple on-board heart rate monitor, and the past few years have seen many innovations as chronicled on this blog. Up next are some units that leverage infra-red technology to analyze the oxygen content of the muscles, and/or characteristics of the horse’s blood during races. Heck, one system will transmit that data in real-time to your I-Phone or I-Pad. Amazing. This gear will contribute reams of data for owners, trainers, and bettors to consider when going to the racetrack. And it may just well shut up PETA next time they set their sights on our wonderful sport – as we will become the first major sport to monitor physiological vital signs DURING actual competition.
Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Well, they have – sort of, check out these guys:
I’ve been watching this group for years, but their efforts seemed to have stalled. I think they make their deductions based strictly on high-speed video analysis, but I am not positive. Case The Race was founded by Dr. Gary Knapp, breeder of Big Brown, and I intend on reaching out to him this week as we both seem to be on the same wavelength.
Granted, 99% of horseplayers will have no idea what to do with these numbers and that’s the point; the race will then be on to become conversant in terms such as stride length, VO2max, lactate threshold, recovery heart rate, etc. Early adopters will get an edge – and that is what every gambler is after.
Once Beyer Speed Figures became part of the DRF past performances, their value soon eroded. The right racing circuit can attract significant new business being the first to provide this data stream. I doubt the US will lead the charge in this regard. Perhaps Australia? Two major HR/GPS systems originate in Perth. Hong Kong? Already the HKJC provides the most in depth past performance analysis:
Although the focus of this blog has been using this data to help trainers condition their horses; I will now turn my focus towards using these tools as a way to evaluate a horse’s racing performance. This is probably a multi-year project, so I better get started this week…wish me luck.
Any feedback is always welcome via blog comments below.