My Very Own Longshot in Kentucky


Just a quick update: blog may be quiet for a spell, perhaps up until late April as I prepare both a few interesting posts and attempt to renovate the house above in an effort to regain it’s former glory seen below:


We bought it at a foreclosure auction last week, and plan to move in early April – despite a massive amount of work to do on the inside. Lots of cool history to the place as well; was built in 1851 and played a key role in some Civil War activities as well as a hideout for the famous outlaw Jesse James and his brother, Frank.

With my limited construction skills, I can only paint – and poorly at that, so the odds are likely 50-1 of me completing the project with my sanity intact. 50-1 is also the title of the new movie about the Kentucky Derby win of Mine that Bird:

The subject of longshots also dovetails nicely into a major piece of work I am turning over in my mind. Both of the longest-shot Derby winners in modern history: Mine that Bird and Canonero II, came from fairly high altitudes in the weeks leading up to The First Saturday in May. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend the new book on the first, and likely only, Venezuelan Derby winner:

That cannot be a coincidence. Training and racing at middle, not high altitudes, must have a significant effect on equine endurance. Can you bring a Venezuelan horse over every year and win the Derby? Of course not. But with modern technology you can approximate that method of conditioning here in the Bluegrass State.

Why do you think the Olympic Training Center for human athletes in the US was built in Colorado Springs, CO at an elevation of 6,035 feet above sea level?

EDIT: Forgot to mention I have some recent experience with NM altitudes and longshot Breeder’s Cup triumphs, video included:


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 20, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Lovely home, best of luck with your ambitious project. Where is it located? As to your point about training at altitude, I taught at the AF Academy for three years and after living there, running at sea level was notably easier. It makes one wonder why New Mexico is not a hot bed for TB training instead of Florida.

    Charlie Center

    • Thanks CC. Home is in Bardstown, KY – the Bourbon Capital of the World. Most nights if the wind is blowing in the right direction you can smell the corn mash all over town. I drive by Jim Beam and Four Roses distilleries twice daily.

      I’ve not yet done much deeper research into the NM angle, but anecdotally it seems that Mine That Bird was conditioned by trainer Chip Woolley a bit more aggressively than the norm. Derby week at CD I was there, and his gallops were a strong 2 miles in length each day, none of this 1 mile stuff with another mile of walk/trot/jog. And Bird was moving real well according to seasoned observers such as Steve Haskin. I also believe Woolley worked Mine That Bird between his Triple Crown efforts, something most others won’t do.

      Of course we all know the story: MTB finished 1-2-3 in the Derby-Preak-Belmont. After several weeks at sea level the high altitude effect dissipates for horses and humans. Bird began to tail off, running a decent 3rd in the WV Derby at Mountaineer – then heading out west for 2 poor efforts at SA. On to Lukas in 2010 for 4 out of the money efforts and retirement.

      What I think we are finding out; and even the super-smart geneticists are beginning to agree, is that racing success depends on the genetic and metabolic responses to exercise and environment. There will be horses that will absolutely EXPLODE when trained/raced at 3000-4000 ft above sea level for a few months before coming down to CD in Louisville, and others will fail to respond.

      Of course, Bird was already the Canadian 2yo champ at Woodbine, so he was no slouch pre-altitude under WO trainer David Cotey. How was he trained back then? Posted workouts? Those are what I am trying to find…

      Canonero II? The data is there in the book. I will summarize neatly in a pre-Derby post, or you can read at Amazon if you can’t wait until then!

  2. David Schneidt

    Great house, we’re is it. I have done one that was built in 1798. It was a great time. The Ghost love it.

  3. Lovely house Bill. Best of luck with the renovation.

  4. Hello Mr. Pressey.
    Nice house, congratulations. I also want to share with you two facts about Canonero that with the altitude that you mentioned above could have help Canonero to become in one of the biggest surprise to win the Derby and the Preakness. First, because Canonero was an imported horse in Venezuela, being a 3 years old, he had to face and beat older horses between January and April, just before the Derby. Some of that older horses that he face were inclusive well qualified in their countries. The other fact that probably help Canonero to beat the best 3 years old horses in Northamerica, was that he probably was the only horse in the Derby field that had run 2000 meters before. In March 7, two month before the Derby, being the first time that his jockey Gustavo Avila rode him, Canonero took the lead and keep it to beat a select group of horses in 128 flat. So like you have mentioned in some of your articles, horses need to do an effort during the training close to the effort they will support during the race. So I’m pretty sure Canonero had been trained and adapted to support better the effort of the Derby than most of the horses that never had try that distance before. I really enjoy a lot all the articles that you constantly post in your blog.

    Enrique Castillo

    • Thanks for the insight Enrique, the book does quite well detailing the pre-Derby prep. I agree 100%. Now imagine doing all that distance in a race, with a heavy rider, and like you said against holder seasoned horses, all at 3000 ft above sea level. Even without the advantage of altitude, Canonero II had a leg up on those US youngsters. Plus when he arrived after a rough plane/bus trip, he was so dehydrated that he received daily electrolyte jugs, for several days. The principle of overcompensation applies here: on raceday he was likely at 110% of his normal concentration of vitamins/minerals/etc.

  5. Bill, it looks like all you need for the house is a hedge trimmer and a power washer… should do the trick. Just finished the Canonero II book. Awesome read. In addition to the workout regimen, the book also gave readers a clear warning about catching thrush before it does major harm.

  6. Beautiful old home!!! Best of luck there Bill!

  7. It’s a beautiful house Bill. Best of luck with the restoration

    • Thanks Amin, I need all the well wishes I can get! Trying to get moved in and settled before the Kentucky Derby as I have a few guests coming in from out of town.

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