In The News: Bloodhorse and Magazine

Gt sport_ 032

Great piece from Steve Haskin called ‘Bend in the Trail’ in the print version of the BloodHorse on Feb. 1st, 2014. Lots of good info about the changing nature of the Derby trail, but these few gems caught my eye.

Calumet Farm and their trainers, Ben and Jimmy Jones, dominated the Derby scene in the 1940’s and 50’s using the Derby Trial Stakes as their main prep. That’s right the one mile race run on the Tuesday just before The First Saturday in May served as their main prep. AND, Mr. Haskin notes, Calumet runners also breeze a half mile on Thursday: 2 days after the mile prep, and 2 days prior to the Big One. With runners such as Whirlaway, Citation, Hill Gail, and Tim Tam – I’d say they did alright. Others copied this strategy as Derby winners Middleground, Determine, and Dark Star used the Trial as their prep on the way to a winning Derby. Carl Nafzger also breezed his 2 Derby winners a half right before the race; as I detailed here:

That above quote concerns Unbridled, but he did the same with Street Sense, who, as Haskin points out, was the only Derby winner to prep in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. 30 others made the attempt, but only Nafzger could pull it off.

Today’s dominating trainer Todd Pletcher is quoted: ‘Five weeks I think is optimal’ spacing for a final prep before the Kentucky Derby. Interestingly enough his only winner, Super Saver, came off but a 3 week layoff after running 2nd in the Arkansas Derby.

I could go on and on, but a lot of good reading is to be had. Not sure you can find the whole article online, I think it’s a print special.

Check out this unique read on genetics testing in thoroughbred racing;–acquisitions/can-science-breed-the-next-secretariat

I was interviewed via phone for the piece, but my portion is to run with a 10 minute video presentation on the topic; who knows if I will ever be able to post it – but the read is even better.

Irish trainer Jim Bolger is a convert to genetic science and the racing game, which should come as no surprise because he also was one of the first to adopt HR/GPS technology in his yard.

I’d like to summarize the piece for you in this space, but I should probably leave it up to the experts.


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 3, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ben & Jimmy Jones didn’t have to worry about the negative effects of lasix.. Today there is a handicapping advantage of making a horse lighter by losing fluid weight. However this is offset by the fact that any trainers that would race frequently on lasix would dramatically dehydrate the horse.
    They would rather go for the handicap advantage not a conditioning advantage.
    it’s easier.
    In the fifties Needles won the Derby.
    Today needles get them to the Derby.

    • So true, by the time a horse gets to the top of the stretch on Lasix, he is 50-70lbs lighter than he would have been ‘clean’. Therefore, it may take a lasix-enabled horse 3-5+ days to regain his weight, while another gets back to normal in 24 hours.

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