More on Synthetics, Medal Count, Historic Farm for Sale

Sorry to beat a dead horse PETA, but this garbage about KEE changing back to dirt as a greedy move against the horse’s best interests is assinine. Two sets of stats:

Courtesy of database maven Derek Simon at; we see over a very large sample size that pacing strategies are essentially identical when comparing synthetic surfaces to turf. Similarly, according to the Jockey Club in 2013 the fatalities are also nearly the same per 1,000 starts:

1.38 on Turf
1.22 on Synthetic

So for all you bleeding hearts, if you are so concerned about your horse’s skeletal well-being that you consider KEE’s move back to dirt just another instance of corporate greed – run your horses on turf. Simple. What is so natural about a horse running over crushed tires covered in plastic?

Now I rarely first point to greed when looking at someone’s actions, but Dale Romans exhibited a prime example of it over the past week at KEE. In a vain attempt to gain enough Derby points to make the starting gate, he ran Medal Count twice in 8 days – placing 2nd in the headline Bluegrass Stakes prep.

Romans enters several hundred races a year, and now he decides a horse can run back so soon? I undoubtedly agree most can, and should – but not for this blatantly selfish reason.

Thanks to the comment below, I had database virtuoso Derek Simon at TwinSpires analyze Mr. Romans’ starts from 2008-2013 here:


First column is starts, second column in winners, third column is winning percentage, fourth column is in the money percentage and final column is ROI per $2. Romans goes back on 10 days rest or less just 1% of the time in nearly 5,000 starts. Would be interesting to know the reasons behind the 1 time he went back in less than 5 days off, a winner paying $9.00. Anyone slick enough to look that up? (Not you, Derek)

Trainers in the audience please help me out: why would you see these stats and notice superior percentages when you go back in 21 days or sooner, yet continue to make the majority of your starts with 31+ days of rest?

Here’s a quick Derby tip from Mr. Simon: Horses that recorded an ESR of +1 or greater in their final Derby prep are just 2-of-107 (-81% ROI) since 1992. Perhaps you can throw out 20% of the field already. (see for more info)

Ok, fun stuff:

The farm north of Louisville where Jack Van Berg trained the immortal Alysheba is on the market, sporting a recently-reduced price tag under $2 million:


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on April 14, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with your comments regarding Medal Count and Dale Romans. I applauded the move when I heard he was planning to run the colt back in the Blue Grass, and indeed the colt’s fine performance proved him correct. The Transylvania set the horse up very nicely for a big effort and he delivered. Now, Dale will use his considerable horsemanship to determine whether a Derby start should be considered.

    Regarding Dale’s motivation for running back in 8 days, did you not consider that Dale quite probably recognized that the number of opportunities for his colt to obtain G1 status running on synthetic, a surface he clearly demonstrated an affinity for, are very limited. That may have been just as much motivation as anything else. Your stating that this decision was based upon “greed” seems very inappropriate and speculative.

    Murray West

    • From 2008-2013 Romans ran a horse back on less than 10 days rest 46 times, with 10 wins, out of 4675 starts. Roughly 1%. Just for the record – draw your own conclusions.

  2. If Mr. Romans runs back several other horses (not in need of Derby points) over the next several months on short rest you will be proven right. But my wager is that his ‘considerable horsemanship’ will stop him from doing so. I hope I am wrong.

  3. To be clear: I greatly applaud running horses back on short rest, I wish it was done more often – and it could be if not for Lasix. I hope Medal Count works twice before Derby and wins by 10+ lengths on Derby day. Maybe then we could get away from this 2-3 starts at age 3 and on to the Triple Crown of 31+ furlongs in 5 weeks.

    Several entries to the 2 mile Melbourne Cup every November are coming back on less than a week’s rest every year. Many of them win.

    But I want trainers to do it because I think it makes horses sounder and stronger, not merely because you want one in the gate for the First Saturday in May. This is the Sport of Kings, and the Kings in question are not trainers, nor owners, nor bettors, but the horse itself.

  4. I do not want to see CC win Triple Crown for quite another reason. I believe he is a “nice” colt, that is beating for the most part, inferior competition. Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed were all “great” colts. They deserved the honor of that Crown…CC does not!!!

  5. waiting for post triple crown blog

  6. Phillip Haycock

    Here’s some Japaneses horses that would beat the best the USA have to offer since Secretariat. “Fenomeno” (2miles in 3.14 and change). “Deep impact” ( 2 miles in 3.13 and change), “Gold Ship”
    I watched a Japanese 2 mile race where the entire field finished under 3:19.0s

    Maybe the Americans should be looking at how these people train their horses.
    One aspect I know about is their 1800m uphill indoor gallop.
    In my view these people are able to produce these horses because they focus on the goal of breeding and training a horse to perform a specific task rather that the American focus of producing a horse to fetch a certain price.

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