Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 210

Hippocrates Jones ran another improved race, rallying from way back to finish fourth. He is an interesting horse who has come a long way in a short time. Hopefully he will continue to get better and can win one of these races soon. The Stanley Cup was showcased at the track today which led to a larger than normal Thursday crowd. We brought a guy who is staying at the same hotel as we are to the races (his first time) and he was amazed at the scene. Had been all over the country and never bothered to venture out to the track. Said he would love to come back out and bring his daughter with him.

Day 209

It is hard to get used to a 4 day a week race schedule and there are rumors that AP may be going to a three day schedule after the Million. While there are few places that are consumed with false rumors more than a racetrack, the fact is that the handle is way off here, the racing is not good and there are no white knights on the horizon. Cutting days without increasing purses is a bad precedent but cutting purses may be worse. I really don't have much confidence that the Illinois politicians are going to sudden see the light this fall and deliver some kind of hope and I know that CDI won't hesitate to 'bottomline Arlington and shutter it until some kind of alternate gaming is passed in IL. Of course if that doesn't happen we may not see anymore Arlington ever and that would be a real shame.

Day 208

Dragging a bit after being out late at the White Sox game last night (they won). The weather has been really nice the last few days and the horses are feeling good. Still frustrated with the entry issues at AP. Hard to believe that an entry level race on the turf or polytrack can't fill. This is a basic, meat and potatoes type of race and when those dont fill and they are using 6 horse $5000 claiming races instead, it can be difficult to swallow.

Day 207

Not much exciting today. Made some entries at Philly and we should have a couple of starts there later in the week. The track  is closed for 2 weeks every August for renovations and we have been scrambling a bit  figuring out racing and training schedules for the horses there. Hopefully we can get starts in for each of them and perhaps give them a short break from training. Supposedly they are going to raise purses at Philadelphia park by roughly $40000 a day once racing resumes which is nice.

Day 206

Not much going on today. The 2 year old fillies are still on the mend, the colts are training along and we have had a lot of runners lately so the morning schedule has been fairly easy.

Day 205

Warm and muggy today though overcast and we did get a ton of rain and lightening last night into this morning. We opted to take it easy with the horses since the horse paths were flooded and the training track was submerged.  Mizz Liza returned to the races after a 373 day layoff and finished a good third in a race taken off the turf. All of our project horses are finally making it back to the races and performing pretty well.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 204

It was scorching hot today in Chicago and Philadelphia which led to abbreviated training in both locations. We worked a couple early before it got too hot and got most of them out before 8:00. There was a brief shower which temporarily cooled things down before the heat came roaring back. My car's thermometer was reading 95 as we pulled into the horseman's lot prior to Surfer Rosa's race at AP.

Surfer raced greenly but put in a pretty nice effort finishing third behind a runaway, wire to wire winner. Being by Johar she figures to stretch out nicely on the turf as she matures and the races get longer than 5 furlongs.

Hippocrates Jones put in another solid work this morning, going a half mile in 48.80 under little urging and galloping out nicely. He is really coming around and should continue to improve with racing experience. Hippo is the type of horse that will get better as he matures but sometimes is frustrating for owners because it takes them so long to put things together. His owners have been great and I hope he rewards their patience with a few wins the rest of the year.

Really all my owners are good people who understand the game well. I just wish they were a little richer! Seriously though I have had some not-so-great owners in the past and they simply drain the fun out of the sport. This is a brutally tough business that isn't for the faint of heart but having a good attitude, caring about your horses and paying your bills in a timely fashion make the owner/trainer dynamic work so much better.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 203

It is threatening to rain as I write this at 10:30 Central time. Both the turf and main track could use a good soaking though a non racing day would have been preferred. We have the first of the two year olds running tomorrow as Surfer Rosa is entered in the 3rd race at Arlington. The race is a maiden $25000 race going 5 furlongs on the polytrack and unfortunately we drew a wide post, number 8. Still she has trained pretty well and should be competitive at this level.

Day 202

Made some entries this morning and naturally the maiden special weight race going one mile didn't come close to filling. The surest sign that your horse community is a weak one is the inability of the racing secretary's office to fill races considered distance events. Chris Polzin is in his first season as racing secretary here at Arlington Park after a long career as a racing official. He really has tried hard to do different things, made some changes that were popular, some that weren't but he has tried. I feel for him as he is a good guy who has been dealt a bad hand as Arlington simply doesn't have the purse levels to compete for good horses. Hell they have had issues getting bad horses to come as owners have cut back or in some cases sent horses to the east coast or slot-fueled racinos like Indiana Downs or Presque Isle to run for the higher purses.

Day 201

Another pretty easy morning and thankfully the weather has not been oppressive lately. There is a big controversy in Illinois about the new law that just went into effect, capping the amount that out of state tracks can charge ADW's for their signal. That cap 5%  is below what the top tracks like Saratoga and Del Mar charge for theirs, effectively keeping Illinois residents from betting these tracks via their ADW accounts.

It is really depressing when these sort of things are done by individual racing commissions or horsemans groups because the negative aspects that these rules are trying to fix become forgotten by the anomisity (well deserved I might add) of the bettors who are not directly responsibile for the issue but simply become pawns caught in the middle. In a time when handle is off nationwide at an alarming percentage, the idea that we need to fight this battle against the corporate greed of Churchill Downs right now is misguided. The Saratoga and to a lesser extent Del Mar meets are really the height of the racing (and betting) season leading into the important fall racing season. Taking away the ability of Illinois residents to use their ADW accounts to bet these tracks is shortsighted and foolish. The fact is that new rule/law will change nothing except make more people will open offshore accounts or worse just say the hell with it and take their gambling money elsewhere.

Day 200

Slow day with all the workers from the weekend walking or just jogging on the training track. TC ordered two loads of sand for the shed row which was getting a little bare. When the maintenance guy brought the sand I noticed that it wasn't the usual stuff that we got. This was dirt that made up the old track surface that has laid in a huge pile on the far side of the racetrack for a few years now. Interesting that they have decided to use that now after not touching it for a while.

I hate the fact that banks are allowed to basically rip us off by holding "out of town" checks when we all know they clear long before the holding period ends.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 199

Worked the 2 year old colts together this morning with another horse of Austin Smith's also joining in. The Magic Bus under Shane Sellers was to start off behind the other horses so he could get used to getting dirt/poly in his face. Prospect Knight under Florent Geroux was on the rail, Joe the Dude with Abdiel Jaen was in the middle and Wheemaway with an exercise rider was three deep.

The trio started off quickly, getting to the quarter pole in 24.60 with The Magic Bus drafting about 4 lengths behind. As they straightened out in the stretch, Sellers angled out and The Magic Bus very professionally ran down the leaders, just getting by Prospect Knight at the wire with Joe the Dude and Wheemaway another length behind. He went in 48.40 which was a solid time on a pretty dead track and was good for the bullet work of the 67 that worked that distance.

The boys are a pretty good group of horses with the Bus potentially a 'real' horse. The girls were ahead of them a few weeks ago but the guys have quickly caught and passed them. Hopefully we can make a little noise this fall.

Day 198

Worked a few early this morning before the poly got heated up. Both went really well and should be starting in the coming weeks. They closed the tracks early because of the 12:30 post time. I still don't know why they need to do this since the normal closing time is still 2 1/2 hours before first post and supposedly the poly doesn't take a lot of effort to get ready for the afternoon's races. I suppose it is hardly a pressing issue.

Arlington has a nice card for today, Arlington Million preview day. We have a horse in the 5th but he looks like he may never recapture his old form. Still really warm though not nearly as bad as a lot of other areas.

Day 197

Another quiet day. Arlington simply can't fill basic entry level races. Not a good sign.

Day 196

This has been a very hot summer practically everywhere. Us people deal with the heat better than the horses who don't live in air conditioned stalls and are subjected to the conditions 24 hours a day. Fans just blow hot air on them and we try to keep them hydrated which can be challenging. We cut back their training a bit when it is really hot, though this morning the weather was nice up until about 9 am when it started heating up.

The yearling sale didn't match the weather as it was pretty flat despite a nice crop of freshman stallions. The pin hookers who have traditionally been a strong presense at the July sale didn't seem to be in a buying mood. I don't know that you can draw conclusions based on the middling results of this sale but I don't think that I would be overly optimistic about the rest of the sale year.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 195

We are getting real summertime weather starting this morning. Going to be over 90 with a heat index of 100+ today which is unusually hot for Chicago. Because of the extreme heat we do our best to get the horses out as early as possible in the morning, especially the horses that will be training on the polytrack surface. The polytrack seems to attract the heat and it is close to 20 degrees hotter on the polytrack than it is on the dirt training track.

Have Target Practice running tonight at Penn National in what looks like a 5 horse field since there is already a scratch. It has been raining over there for two days so we will most likely be dealing with an off track which shouldn't be an issue for our horse. Short fields for good money may not be a positive for the sport in the long run but they sure are nice right now.

Edit- He won!
Chart of the race

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 194

Today is the July Fasig Tipton  yearling sale in Lexington. This will be the first one that I have missed in over 10 years but I have no money to spend and Paula is heading out of town tonight to be at her sisters 50th birthday party leaving me in charge of the dogs. Hopefully the sale will continue to trend upward like the 2 year old sales and this business can begin to recover. I have some serious doubts as to where the industry as a whole is headed and even darker thoughts on those leading us there.

Day 193

There are few worse feelings in a trainers life than a phone call at 3 am or seeing a promising two year old walk out of the stall and not be 100%. While the phones remained silent through the night, one of the two year old fillies was a little gimpy today. After taking some xrays, the damage is hardly anything really negative but will require some time to heal.

It is really hard to fathom how hard it is to keep horses sound until you are around them all the time. Sometimes when making plans for horses we take for granted that they will remain healthy and things will go smoothly when that is the case in so few instances. The minor injuries are something that you just learn to live with. The major ones that are career ending (or influencing) or worse are just heartbreaking. You always want your horses in the best possible shape heading into a race but there are so many factors that are beyond your control that can prevent that from occurring. You run into this often when you have a horse who is out of conditions and racing opportunities are few and far between. The constant push and pull of running when the opportunity is available yet the horse may only be 95% or passing and waiting on another spot, hoping that the horse gets better and the race materializes can be maddening.

Day 192

Worked many of the two year old's today from the gate. Everyone went well which is a relief. Gate issues are sometimes nothing more than a nuisance along the path to a horses career but when they linger can affect them their entire career and lead to injuries.

Always interesting when you give the clockers the distance of the work, have the horses work that distance and have a different distance come up in the DRF. Not one of our bigger issues but makes you wonder why this happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 191

Feeling under the weather today, another sign that I am not as young as I used to be. Trying to sell off one of the cheaper horses at Philly but having trouble getting arrangements made for getting the money. Funny how smoothly things go until the money actually has to be taken out of ones pockets! I can't tell you how many people over the years have told me about the horses we were going to buy and to be on the lookout for a good purchase only to come up empty in the money department.

Entered Target Practice for Wednesdays races at Penn National and it looks like that race will be used which is seemingly an issue when entering at every track in America outside of Monmouth Park.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 190

Well I guess I have missed a few days in between posts!

Last year about the time that I stopped posting there were some very contentious negotiations ongoing concerning my desire to no longer be associated with Bluegrass Equine Center. I felt it inappropriate to comment on the matter and yet because it was such a big change in my life and business continuing to blog without mentioning it would have seemed less than forthcoming. Since that deal is over and time has passed I felt that it was the right time to return to this blog. I am going to dedicate more time to it and touch in greater detail about some controversial topics facing the industry and even national news and it's effects on the horseracing business. Surely there will be those that don't agree with me on certain topics but I will try to present my reasoning so that you at least understand my point of view even if you dont necessarily agree with it. Please feel free to comment but try to keep the exchanges civil.

I am currently in Chicago, racing at Arlington Park with another small string of horses at Philadelphia Park. For the first time in my training career I have no horses in and very limited plans to race in Kentucky. Despite my having a home in Louisville, my horses just don't fit there this summer and KY racing is not exactly on the upswing. It has been a trying year as we have had some key horses go down with injuries, shuffled some personel around and been faced with seemingly endless negative news as an industry.

I won't go into all the details in this post but will touch on some things that have happened in the past 14 months, perhaps on slow days!