How to Shut Up PETA Forever
But that’s besides the point. Imagine every horse in every race across the USA generating such data in real-time. US thoroughbred racing would become the ONLY sport in the world providing real-time physiological data on its athletes, made available for public analysis. I have already done so privately, but the rest of the world will soon develop and witness data proving that HR behavior before/during/after exercise is the earliest sign of a problem. Doesn’t tell you what the problem is, but certainly dictates undue stress earlier than any human’s eyeball.
Think of it as a stopwatch for heat. Every horseman prides himself on detecting heat in the legs of his charges. Where do you think that heat comes from? It comes from blood. The heart drives that increased blood flow by beating faster than normal. There is nowhere else for that blood to come from. There is no room for politics, no room for guesswork, no room for your eyes playing tricks on you. It’s science and math, plain and simple.
And, its been done before.
Many years ago equine endurance events experienced a rash of dead horses. The Cardiac Recovery Index was developed to objectively determine, DURING THE EVENT, if a horse was fit to continue. At regular intervals the horse enters a checkpoint, where a vet administers a simple test of recovery heart rate. Pass and continue. Fail and you are disqualified, doesn’t matter if your owner is the King of All Oil or a Utah rancher. More here:
We can do the same, literally overnight. Certainly the raceday drug issues needs to be addressed, that can’t happen overnight, but this can. With the snap of a finger we can show the NY Times that appropriate steps were taken not only to catch up to the rest of the civilized world of sport, but to surpass even the highest standards currently set. And think of the boon to handicappers. Admittedly few of these men and women, the lifeblood of the sport (like it or not), have a clue what heart rate vs GPS data means, but when it becomes available they will learn quickly to gain an edge at the mutuel window.
Granted the dishrag Times and PETA will simply find something else to attack, as that is their raison d’etre, but at the very least we can inject some new blood into the racing game: using each individual horse’s own vital signs to avoid another Nehro, while providing betting whales with the first advance in handicapping information in decades: a quantitative measure of fitness.
I’ll have to guess since no US racing jurisdictions allows for onboard HR/GPS monitoring, but here’s what it will look like approximately:
-If after a race your horse doesn’t meet the following criteria, he shall undergo intensive veterinary analysis before the next race. I’m not talking watching him jog, I mean bloodwork, bone scans, MRI, etc. All at the cost of the owner. Don’t want to pay? Retire him because these rules are in effect in every jurisdiction.
-Say the race was a 6F effort on dirt. HR must settle to 170bpm within 2min past the wire, while still at a jog (no walking). HR must further settle to 100bpm after saddle removed during walk back to backside, within 10min time from end of race.
Oh yeah, the horse in question must also complete 2 breezes before allowed to enter another race, one at least 6F, while wearing onboard HR/GPS gear and meeting the scores set forth in the Thoroughbred Racing Recovery Index.
For comparison’s sake, refer back to the HR/GPS chart at the start of this post. Time is along the X-axis. At roughly 9:45 this gelding enters the starting gate. He stands quietly, HR sinking to roughly 60bpm, which is very, very good. Around time 10:45 he blasts from the gate to begin his work. Peak speed is reached at just under 1:30 min/mile (44mph) for a few strides just before the wire. Within 2min his HR is down under 120bpm, and down to 97bpm just 5min later.
He is ultra-fit and shows zero signs of any problems anywhere. Imagine every horse in a 6F race providing this data, country-wide. Think of all the help this can give handicappers. Hell, the trainers should feel like they were handed the keys to the kingdom. No more guessing: Is he short? Did I work him enough? Too much? Is he sound? Did I hear a cough last week? Should he rest another week? Can I move him up in class?
If I die with the following on my tombstone, I will have made a mark on this world:
‘He saved thousands of horses by developing the Thoroughbred Racing Recovery Index.’
At the very least, it would give me great pleasure to put an end to crap like this: