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WPT: February E-Newsletter

February 04, 2010 · By · Share

Jockey Interview: Edgar Prado | Behind The Scenes: 2yo Auctions | Inside The Industry: Breeding |
Racing History: Captain Machell | Kid's Corner: Awesome Gem

Jockey Interview: Edgar Prado

Edgar Prado is a Hall of Fame jockey.  He has won over 6,000 races.  He earned his way into America's hearts through his dedication to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.  Now, he looks to pilot another talented colt along the Kentucky Derby trail, West Point Thoroughbreds' Middle of the Nite.  He spent some time with us down in Florida.  See what he had to say to us in a chat:

Back to TopBehind the Scenes: Experience the Two-Year-Old Auctions

EventsBefore they cross the finish line, our future superstars must be purchased.  It is a painstaking process that the West Point Thoroughbreds team will go through at more than a half-dozen auctions this spring, and you have a chance to be a part of it.  We invite you to join us before and during the the OBS Select sale to get a behind the scenes look as West Point Thoroughbreds continues to assemble the Class of 2010.  This is as close as you can get without signing the sales slip yourself.

Schedule of events:
  • Sunday 2/14: Conformation lessons with the West Point Selection Team at Barn 10 on the OBS Sales ground. Times: 10:00am or 1:00pm. Click here to RSVP for the 10:00am session. Click here to RSVP for the 1:00pm
  • Sunday 2/14: A look at thoroughbred auctions with OBS Chief Auctioneer Ryan Mahan in the sales pavilion. Time: Noon. Click here to RSVP.
  • Monday 2/15: Watch the WPT Class of 2010 train at M & H Training Center. Coffee and donuts to be provided. Time: 8:00am. Click here to RSVP for training.
  • Monday 2/15: Drinks by the pool at the Ocala Hilton. Time: 8:00-10:00pm. Click here to RSVP.
  • Tuesday 2/16: Conversation with the WPT Team about the OBS Sale. Time: 11:00am in the OBS sales pavilion. The auction begins at noon. Click here to RSVP.

All West Point Partners in attendance at the sale will have an opportunity to win a $2,500 credit toward the purchase of a future horse.  We look forward to seeing you at the auction!

Don't forget about our two Spring Showcase events in Ocala, Florida and Temecula, California.  This year's events are:
Ocala: March 26th and 27th
Temecula: April 10th and 11th

If you would like more information sent to you please contact the following people:
Ocala: Casey Irving - [email protected] or (518) 583-6406
Temecula: Susie Bloom - [email protected] or (858) 518-2468

Please note that space is limited for each event, so do not wait.

Back to TopInside the Industry: Breeding and Foaling

Breeding and FoalingIt's that time of year again. Each day as someone drives down a road like Old Frankfort Pike in Lexington, they'll see more and more little ones are running through the fields with their proud moms. From now until June, over 30,000 foals will be born in North America. Of the foals born this year, only twenty of them will make it to the starting gate in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.  A great deal of work goes into producing a healthy, thriving foal. The process begins long before a foal is ever born.

Breeding horses is as much of a science as it is an art. Breeders and horse owners spend countless hours studying pedigrees and analyzing the "best" sire to breed their mares to. Many people consider figures such as the "dosage index," which is a mathematical statistic to determine the projected distances progeny will best perform at. It takes into account several generations of a horse's pedigree and the performance of the family. Other people use the True Nicks system to plan their matings.  This system assigns a foal a grade from A++ to F and is based on the degree of affinity between the sire and broodmare sire. For more information on Dosage Index click here.  To use TrueNicks to create a hypothetical foal using a Lane's End Stallion click here.

Some people use their years of experience to help them decide which stallion they believe will produce a quality foal with their mare. Many other factors besides mathematical figures go into selecting a stallion including size of the mare and stallion, cost of stud fee, performance of mare and stallion, previous matings, etc. For instance, a breeder with a small mare would likely choose a tall, large boned stallion (such as Rock Hard Ten or Empire Maker) and to breed to in hopes of having a good sized foal. To browse the Bloodhorse Stallion Register click here.  A breeder may chose to mate his sprint type mare to a sprint type stallion (such as Speightstown or City Zip)  in hope of producing a speedster, or may chose to mate to a classic distance type runner (A.P. Indy or Pleasantly Perfect) with the hope that the offspring excels in longer races and vice versa. Sometimes the horses with the highest dosages indexes and most prestigious family lines don't live up to their bloodlines. Sometimes horses with obscure pedigrees go onto do great things on the racetrack. That is what makes breeding an art.

Dixie UnionThe breeding shed. You've arranged with the farm where your selected stallion stands and they accepted your mare. Some stallions cover over 200 mares a season.  As with anything, some are in higher demand than others. You will hear the term "booked full," in which no more mares will be accepted to breed to a particular stallion. Once the vet gives you the go ahead to breed, you want to get your mare covered fairly quickly, normally within the next 48 hours to prevent missing an ovulation. The covering process varies depending on the stallion and behavior of the mare. Trainer personnel handle both the stallion and mare during the mating process, and many times mares are restrained and protected to prevent injury.  An experienced stallion will cover a mare in a few minutes. Once complete, the mare loads back up and goes home.

A few weeks later, "doc" will ultrasound your mare and you know if you have a foal coming. Sometimes mares return more than once to be bred. With any luck and skill, it only takes one time.  With quality care of your mare and good riddance by Mother Nature, you will have a foal in 11 months.

Stay tuned next month, your foal is coming.

Keep an eye out here. Our vet, Dr. Baker has a mare named Lucky One who is due to foal any day. We will do our best to get a video of the birthing process and new foal. This is a pretty special foal....does anybody know who the mare is a half sister to and who the foal is a half brother or sister to? Post on the West Point Facebook page if you know.  

Back to TopRacing History: Captain Machell and the Victorians

EventsRacing partnerships like West Point Thoroughbreds are a 20th and 21st century phenomenon, but a few metaphorical grandfathers of the modern concept can be found in the history of 19th century English racing.

Many of the stories of Victorian racing partnerships center on the charming, charismatic, and rakish figure of Captain James Machell. From an impecunious but well-related family, he gave up his military commission when he discovered his knack for handicapping during excursions to the Curragh while stationed in Ireland during the 1850s. During his stint in the military, Machell was known as a remarkable athlete, reputed to be able to jump over a table flat-footed or from the floor to a mantelpiece and balance there. Let's hope the hostess removed the family photos first!

Machell's talent for betting financed his transfer to English racing headquarters at Newmarket, where he managed racing stables, most frequently for young, wealthy aristocrats new to the racing game. Machell enjoyed enormous success in that guise, managing the careers of what turned out to be two of the most important sires of the second half of the 19th century, Hermit and Isinglass.

Machell purchased Hermit for 23-year-old Henry Chaplin (later Lord Chaplin) as a yearling in 1865 and managed Chaplin's racing stable. A good two-year-old, Hermit bled badly in a public workout a few weeks before the 1867 Epsom Derby, and was not expected to be able to run. Machell treated him and ordered his trainer to work him downhill only before the race, and when Hermit rallied to win by a neck, Machell was said to have collected more than 70,000 pounds in winning wagers. In 1867 that was the equivalent of about $350,000. Nowadays it would be at least ten times that amount.

Machell was also principally responsible for the mating that produced Isinglass, breeding his good older full brother Islington, by the great sire Isonomy, before selling his dam, Deadlock, by Wenlock, to Captain Harry McCalmont. Another young, wealthy aristocrat, McCalmont repeated the mating and got Isinglass. Machell managed the racing career of Isinglass, who proved to be one of the greatest racehorses of the century, winning 11 of 12 starts, including the Triple Crown in 1893. Isinglass set a record for earnings on the English Turf that stood until *Tulyar broke it in 1952. Isinglass is a key link in the male line now represented by the great German sire Monsun, sire of European champion Manduro and Breeders' Cup Turf(G1) winner Shirocco.

HermitAt the same time as he managed the racing stables of wealthy young spendthrifts, however, Machell also organized and ran betting syndicates which also owned racehorses. The horses were nominally owned by Machell, but, in reality were owned in partnership with groups of four or five of his confederates. Not surprisingly, the form of those racehorses tended to vary with the direction of the wagering of their owners, a decidedly shady practice that was very common in the 19th century. Machell advised Chaplin not to run Hermit in the 1867 Two Thousand Guineas (the first race of the English Triple Crown) because he hoped to win it (along with a substantial wager) with his horse Knight of the Garter. A horse named Vauban (later third to Hermit in the Derby) upset the planned coup by beating Knight of the Garter by two lengths.

Machell was also directly involved in the most successful of 19th century English racing partnerships, known as "the old confederacy", between Lord Henry Alington and Sir Frederic Johnstone. English aristocrats of the 19th century tended to be fiercely independent in their racing ventures, but the racing partnership between Alington and Johnstone lasted for more than 20 years.  

In 1879 Machell advised Alington to breed his excellent broodmare Fusee to Hermit, and the result was *St. Blaise, winner of the Epsom Derby for the partnership in 1883. Both *St. Blaise and his classy full brother *Candlemas were later important sires in the U.S. *St. Blaise led the American sire list in 1890 and was the first horse sold for $100,000 at public auction at the dispersal of August Belmont I (namesake of the Belmont Stakes) in 1891.

Alington and Johnstone also won a Triple Crown with a son of Isonomy, when Common, swept the Two Thousand Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger, two years before Isinglass performed the same feat.

Racing partnerships were, indeed, uncommon before the last quarter of the 20th century, but they were there. Sometimes they were behind the scenes and sometimes they were more colorful than admirable, but they are part of the infinitely romantic, spectacular history of Thoroughbred racing.--John P. Sparkman

Back to TopKid's Corner: Awesome Gem

HannahWelcome to the first edition of Kid's Corner! My name is Hannah Bloom and I will be writing articles from a different perspective on fun and exciting topics such as; interviewing WPT partners, trainers, and jockeys, and everything surrounding the wonderful world of horse racing. I am thirteen and in the eighth grade, some of my interests are spending time with my friends and family, reading, writing, cooking, dancing, surfing, and playing with my dog Sadie. Some of my goals for the future are to go to USC and major in "Broadcast Journalism". I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with TVG and have done some on camera interviews. I love going to the races, and spending mornings at the barn seeing all of the horses. My whole life I have been around horse racing. My dad, Jeff Bloom is Executive Vice President of West Coast Operations for West Point, and was a professional jockey for nine years, so you can say it's in my blood.         

For this first article I chose to talk about my favorite West Point horse, Awesome Gem. He is West Point's first millionaire. Awesome Gem has run in countless races such as; the San Fernando Stakes GII, Pacific Classic GI three consecutive years, traveled out of the country for The Hong Kong Mile GI, The Hawthorne Gold Cup GII,  he ran in the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic GI,  finishing just behind Curlin, this last year, he ran in the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic against Zenyatta, in the race that made history. He is definitely an amazing horse with great talent. "Gem" (also known to some as Gemster, or even Superstar) adores carrots (which he gets every time I see him), he is so sweet and loving. He is an "AWESOME" horse!

I look forward to sharing my opinions and topics.  Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] with any suggestions or questions.

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