Letter from the President - September
August has come and gone, and the meets at Del Mar and Saratoga will soon retreat into our memories. Every year, the whirlwind of activity of this season seems to get more intense. This year, we had the honor of running in most prestigious races at both Del Mar and Saratoga. Of course, not everything goes according to script. Less than ideal trips in the Travers and Pacific Classic cost Macho Again and Awesome Gem an opportunity for our "Hollywood ending". That's horseracing. Both horses will be back to try again another day.
While the focus in August is at Saratoga and Del Mar, the stable continued to show its remarkable depth. While everyone likes to focus on stakes horses, I like to highlight other success stories as well. Rereadthefootnotes broke his maiden at first asking before going on to run third in the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes. Tropic Storm ran a hard-luck third beaten less than a length in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. A bevy of two-year-olds showed their promise on both coasts with several poised to grab headlines this fall. However, the comeback of the year has to go to RJ's Brigade who has won four allowance races in a row. Prior to this year, RJ had been a bit of an enigma. After knocking around on the periphery over the last couple years, we gave him some time off and gelded him. He is like a new horse.
RJ's Brigade's story raises a question that I am often asked. Why geld a horse? RJ's Brigade is extremely well bred. On paper, he looks like an unlikely candidate for gelding. Everyone reads of the huge dollars offered for horses by breeding outfits. The financial allure of racing a potential stallion is tremendous. However, very few male horses will ever achieve enough success on the track to become a stallion.
So, rather than asking why geld a horse, I ask why not? Geldings represent nearly 26 percent of all horses, and they earn over 23 percent of all purses. Geldings are typically easier to train. Young colts can be very aggressive in their training and have a greater propensity to injure themselves. Geldings tend to be sounder, and often times horses greatly improve their performance after being gelded. Geldings focus more on their job and less on fillies, and the results can be remarkable. Geldings also increase their earnings potential on the track through longevity. They race longer and are good for the sport because they develop a following. However, I am biased. Ask me or any of our Partners on Awesome Gem, El Gato Malo or RJ's Brigade what they think of the procedure. Our answers are the same. We would not be where we are without gelding them. It is time to shake off the underlying stigma associated with the geldings. When you see a horse that has been gelded, do not assume that anyone thinks less of the horse or his upside. In reality, their potential might only be tapped thanks to being gelded.
As we enter the fall, our focus shifts to the yearling sales. We have begun to assemble horses for our yearling syndications and pinhooking package. On the track we will continue our drive toward the Breeders' Cup. After running five horses last year, we could have a similar number of runners again this year. It is performance like this that earned us recognition by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association as their co-winner of the Eastern Region Owner of the Year for 2007. All I can say is thank you to my team for all their hard work and thank you to our Partners. Without your support none of this would be possible.
Finally, many people ask me what it's like to work for West Point Thoroughbreds. Thanks to the great people that I work with, we have a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, things are a bit more serious. As you probably know, I am a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Over the past decade, our football team has fallen on hard times. The one thing that has kept my hopes up is that we have always had a better team than Temple. You see, one of my team members is a diehard Temple fan. One of my small pleasures is teasing him endlessly about his football team, which has not had a winning season since 1990. Unfortunately, that joy is now gone as the Temple Owls dominated the Army Black Knights 35-7 in the opening game of the 2008 season. I was at the game, and I can take my beating like a man. I own up to the defeat right here and now and admit to anyone that will listen that Temple is better than Army. They dominated us. We were no match. I was wrong to think that we could even stay with Temple for a half. I can never crack a joke about Temple's ineptitude again. If any of you see me, please do not bring up the Temple/Army game. I believe that I have paid my debt with this letter. I am just glad that I was given the chance to write my own mea culpa. I can only imagine what would have happened if the Temple fan scripted this for me.
Until next month...