The Modern Road to the Kentucky Derby is a Farce
As we sit here for 3 *%$#@^* weeks with absolutely no Derby prep action it’s useful to remember what used to be:
WAR ADMIRAL’S ROAD TO THE 1937 TRIPLE CROWN
4/14/37 – 6F win in Calvert
??? – 8.5F win in Chesapeake Stakes
5/4/37 – breezes 10F over sloppy CD track in 2:08
5/8/37 – wins Kentucky Derby in 2:03.2, 2nd fastest ever at the time
5/11/37 – breezes 9F in 1:56.4
5/15/37 – wins Preakness Stakes in 1:58.4
*works 3 times over BEL strip, 12f each*
6/5/37 – wins Belmont Stakes in record time of 2:28.6
-The 1937 Kentucky Derby was his 3rd start in 24 days, yet trainer George Conway thought he may be ‘short’ as he’d never raced more than 8.5 furlongs up until this point.
-He worked the full race distance 4 days before each of the jewels of the Triple Crown.
-War Admiral breezed 4 times between the Derby and Belmont wins, over a period of 28 days. Back then, there was 1 week between the Derby and Preakness, yet he still worked 9F 3 days after his Derby win.
-EVERYONE worked and raced like this back then, this was no aberration.
See Assault and Max Hirsch:
Detailed training logs in that post for the 1947 Triple Crown winner, aka The Club Footed Comet.
Right about now is where the breeding crowd exclaims: ‘we don’t breed for stamina’ as the sole reason behind the deterioration of the American thoroughbred. Horseshit. Even professional geneticists ascribe racing performance to heredity just 30% of the time at best, with the remaining 70% due to environment: conditioning, nutrition, behavioral training, etc.
A major component of ‘environment’ is the frequency of racing and training. Check out Dale Romans’ stats over the past 5 years:
As the days between starts grow from 6-10 on up to 46-90, both winning percentage (3rd column) and in the money percentage (4th column) get progressively worse. Yet he insists on running the greatest number of horses off 31-45 days rest. Go figure.
Fast-forward to 2014 and a race earlier in the week at CD named the Derby Trial doesn’t even have qualifying points status towards the 2014 Kentucky Derby! Maybe it should be restricted to 2yo and we can call it the First Derby Prep – 370 days out from the 2015 race. Don’t laugh, that is where we are headed.
I will now light myself on fire.