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WPT March E-Newsletter

March 04, 2010 · By · Share

Video Feature: A Look at the Sales Process | Mark Your Calendars: Join WPT at These Events |
| Inside The Industry: Breeding Part 2 |
Racing History: From Man o' War to Zenyatta | Education Center: Condition Books and Races

Video Feature: A Look at the Sales Process

West Point Thoroughbreds was at the first two-year-old sale in full force. From conformation clinics to discussions with the auctioneer, we brought attendees an inside look at the sales process, and we got a lot of it on tape. We put together just over an eight minute video to help you get a feel for the process. Enjoy:

Back to TopMark Your Calendars: Join WPT at These Events

February was a great month full of events, but March looks like it will blow February out of the water. Owning a racehorse is more than just what happens on raceday. It is having access to industry insiders and events, and we want to help you experience it.

Join us before the OBS March sale for the following events:
  • Monday 3/15: 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 3/15: Conformation lessons with the West Point Selection Team at Barn 10 on the OBS Sales ground. Time: 1:00pm. Click here to RSVP for the 1:00pm session.

Join us before the Barretts March sale for the following events:
  • Sunday 3/21: Pre-sale cocktail party at the Sheraton at the LA County Fairground. Time: 5:30-7:00. Click here to RSVP.
  • Monday 3/22: Conformation lessons with the West Point Selection Team at Barretts. Time: 10:00am. Click here to RSVP.

All West Point Partners in attendance at the sales will have an opportunity to compete for a 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 or to reserve a spot:
Ocala: Click here
Temecula: Click here

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

West Point Thoroughbreds to present at TOBA Seminar:
The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will be hosting a new owner seminar on March 12th at Tampa Bay Downs.  West Point Thoroughbreds will be a presenter at the seminar.  The seminar begins at 8:00am and breakfast will be included.  If you'd like more information or want to sign up for the seminar you can visit the registration form on the TOBA web site by clicking here.

Did you know? You can earn credit for referring a friend:
West Point Thoroughbreds offers a referral reward program.  If you refer a friend or business associate that ends up doing business with us, then you will receive a credit worth 5% of their purchase amount toward your future purchases or training bills.  Know someone that might be interested in horse ownership? Tell us! Click here to let us know.

Back to TopInside the Industry: Breeding and Foaling Part 2

Breeding and Foaling

Miss Part 1? No problem. Read it here.

There is nothing quite like seeing a new foal take its first steps and nurse for the first time. This event is highly anticipated by horse owners and breeders. After almost a year of waiting, watching, and anticipating, it's a time to rejoice when the brand-new foal arrives, and mare and foal are healthy.

A great deal of work goes into ensuring the new baby is healthy, happy, and on their way to racing glory. Mare nutrition is fundamental during gestation and lactation. Mares need increased nutrient levels, especially when they are producing milk. It is hard work for a mare to maintain her own body condition and to produce milk for the young foal.

About four to six weeks prior to the anticipated foaling date, mares are boosted with vaccines so that their colostrum (first milk) contains high levels of antibodies. It is VITAL that foals receive colostrum from their dam as soon as possible after birth. Foals are born with very little immunity and gain immunity by what is known as passive transfer. The foal must drink the colostrum produced by the mare to build up these antibodies. A foal’s system is designed to digest colostrum only in the first 12 or so hours after birth, so timing is of the essence. The antibodies provide protection until the foal is several months old and able to build its own immune system.

So, the mare is vaccinated and everything looks good. How do we know when the mare is getting ready to foal? One will look for signs such as distended udder, swelling of the vulva, waxing of the teats, and teat secretions. Within hours of foaling, the mare may leak colostrum.

Mares generally foal at night. The foaling process is divided into three parts:*

Labor- In the first stage of foaling, mares become restless. They will not eat and they may pace or walk in circles, look back toward their flank, and switch their tails. This is the longest stage of foaling and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours. As labor progresses, mares may assume a straddling, crouching position and may urinate frequently. When the mare breaks her water or starts expelling fluid, the first stage of parturition is completed.

Expulsion of fetus- This is the most exciting part of the whole process. Here comes what you've been waiting over eleven months for. This stage is generally shorter than the labor stage. Just before a foal is the born, the mare will likely sweat profusely. When contractions begin, the mare is either staning up or lying down. The mare may get up with part of the foal exposed but will normally lie down to complete the birthing process, provided she is not disturbed by observers. The foal is usually born after 12 to 18 minutes of heavy labor. Maiden mares (mares foaling for the first time) are more likely to take about an hour to expel the fetus. Handlers should be ready to assist if it goes much longer than an hour. Mature mares in labor for more than 30 to 45 minutes may also need assistance. After the foal is born, the mare will continue to lie on her side for another 15 to 20 minutes. This time is important for the mare to rest and for blood flow from the placental tissues to pass into the colt.

Passage of afterbirth- If there has been a normal birth, mares will stand some 15 to 20 minutes after giving birth and begin to nuzzle and lick the foal. This is a critical period as the bond is being established between the dam and foal. The licking and cleaning behavior, which usually starts at the head, stimulates the foal while it also dries it. The cleaning is probably also part of the initial bonding process and is typically accompanied by vocalizations and a thorough visual and olfactory examination of the foal by the mare. A newborn foal learns to recognize its dam by her voice. The process by which the newborn learns to recognize its dam is called imprinting. The cleaning/licking is also accompanied by nuzzling, which appears to assist the foal in learning to stand. The mare usually starts by licking the head, so by the time she has reached the rear, she is able to assist the standing process by the nuzzling. The afterbirth is usually expelled within one to two hours after birth. Mares can identify their foals within hours of birth. Odor is the primary recognition factor. The most significant identification is usually made when the mare smells the rear area of the foal. *Source: University of Kentucky (Dr. Mary Rossano)

Foals will generally stand within thirty minutes. This is always neat to watch as it normally takes several failed attempts for the young life to put all the pieces together and take their first steps. As soon as the foal is steady on its feed, it will attempt to nurse. Sometimes it takes the foal a few tries to locate the teats and begin suckling. Foals nurse frequently during the first few weeks of life. As they age, they are introduced to other feedstuffs such as hay and grain. Foals remain close to their mothers in the first few weeks, but by about three months, they spend the majority of their time with other foals. The weaning process takes place about six months of age. It is time to start growing up and prepare to be a racehorse!

Back to TopRacing History: From Man o' War to Zenyatta

EventsWho was the best horse ever sold at public auction?

Well, by general consensus, the three best horses ever to race in the United States were Man o' War, Citation, and Secretariat. In Europe, current consensus would probably include *Ribot, *Sea-Bird, and possibly 2009 champion Sea The Stars.

All but one of those six horses raced for his breeder-Man o' War.

It is well known that Sam Riddle paid $5,000 for Man o' War (then named My Man o' War) at Saratoga in 1918. What is not so well known is that he was sold by Powers-Hunter Sale Co., not by Fasig-Tipton Co.

Fasig-Tipton inaugurated their flagship Saratoga sale in 1917, but they did not build the first sales pavilion and barns at the site on East Avenue across from the track until several years later. There were, in fact, three sales companies competing to sell horses at the Spa at the time, Fasig-Tipton, Powers-Hunter, and Thompson's, and all sold their horses under the stately elms and maples in the paddock area of the racetrack.

Man o' War's breeder, August Belmont II, normally did not sell his yearlings, but when President Woodrow Wilson asked Belmont to help with the war effort as a major in the country's fledgling aviation service, Belmont decided to temporarily reduce his commitment to racing by selling his 1918 crop. That late decision probably explains why the Belmont yearlings were sold by Powers-Hunter rather than Fasig-Tipton, which was already the more prestigious sale.

Belmont's decision to serve his country also explains Man o' War's name. Eleanor Robson Belmont, the financier's wife, named her husband's horses, and she honored her then 65-year-old husband's dedication to the war effort with an affectionate name for the horse they considered to be the best yearling of the crop. Sam Riddle, appropriately, removed the "My" from the name once the Belmonts no longer owned the horse.

Man o' War, of course, won 20 of 21 starts in such impressive fashion that he remains, 90 years later, at the top of the list of America's greatest racehorses.
Much has changed about Thoroughbred racing and breeding in those 90 years, but, in today's much more commercial Thoroughbred world, there are still tremendous bargains available for buyers at both yearling and two-year-old sales. Man o' War's $5,000 price was not as cheap as it now sounds, since the highest-priced yearling of 1918 was Royal Jester, which topped the Fasig-Tipton sale at $14,500. Man o' War earned $249,465....Royal Jester earned $4,381, though he did at least place in a minor stakes.

Skip Away's $30,000 price at the 1995 OBSC February sale of selected two-year-olds in training, on the other hand, was one of the biggest bargains of the last 20 years. Horse of the Year in 1998, Skip Away earned $9,586,360 more than his purchase price. In addition to an unfashionable pedigree, Skip Away, of course, had some veterinary issues at the time he was sold, but, as is often the case, they never bothered him.

Auction RingDual Horse of the Year Curlin's $57,000 yearling price at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale was also affected by X-rays that did not meet the requirements of most buyers. Curlin only earned $10,440,800 more than that on the racetrack.

Zenyatta's problem when she brought only $60,000 at that same Keeneland sale was not soundness but skin disease. With 5,000 horses on offer, it does not take much to make most buyers move on to the next horse. Zenyatta, of course is unbeaten in 14 starts and has earned $5,414,580 more than her purchase price with more likely to come.

So don't be distracted when you see a horse sell for millions of dollars. In the last 50 years, only four top-priced yearlings-1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, 1966 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince, 1961 Wood Memorial winner Globemaster, and 1961 Hollywood Gold Cup winner Prince Blessed-have earned more on the racetrack than their purchase price. --John P. Sparkman

Back to TopEducation Center: Condition Books and Races

HannahWhen are we running? That's probably the most popular question any racing manager or trainer gets. While the question is simple, the answer is not always as simple. Why? Well, owners and trainers are really at the mercy of the track's racing secretary. The racing secretary is the man or woman that writes the holy grail of racetrack information, the condition book. Ah, the condition book. Two words that both bring both joy and frustration.

The condition book is the schedule of races for a given track during a certain period of time, usually a few weeks or a month. It is this schedule that provides a framework for trainers to schedule the routines for their horse. Pretty straight forward, no? Well, it's not quite that simple. You see, just because a race is written does not mean that enough horses will enter the race to get it used. That is why you will see substitute races in the book as well. These are races that also get entries and can be used in place of another race on the card. Confused? Oh wait, did I mention that there is a third kind of race? These races are called extra races. These little gems are races that the racing secretary writes at entry time for the next racing day. Normally, these are races that trainers have lobbied for or a race the racing secretary believes has a good chance to fill. Good racing secretaries know what horses are on their grounds and what conditions they are eligible for. Astute trainers are always checking the extra races to see if something pops up for one of their horses. Thus, a horse might have no scheduled race one day then all of a sudden have a target the next. Not exactly the best way to make plans.

So, when you look at our upcoming races you will see horses pointing for certain races, and you'll see horses no longer pointing for races. When races do not fill or an extra race comes up, the best laid plans can change in a heartbeat. The uncertainty can be frustrating, especially when horses are ready to run and a race does not fill. Good trainers will scour books from numerous tracks looking for the best race, and they will throw their weight around lobbying their local racing secretary for certain races.

It would all be so easy if all horses were created equal, but they're not. Therefore, you have to look for a race that fits your horse. To help casual fans better understand race types, here is a breakdown on the most frequently discussed types of races.

On the way to the trackMaiden Special Weight - Call these the training wheel races. These are for horses that have never won a race. You cannot run in these races after you have won. They are written for certain ages and genders of horses. Male horses cannot run in races restricted to fillies and mares, but female horses can run against the boys. This is generally the case in all levels of races.

Maiden Claiming or Claiming Race - Maiden claiming races are for horses that have never won, but horses in this race can be bought for a designated dollar amount, known as the claiming price. Claiming races are also written for horses that have won races, so you will see races like a claiming race for horses that have never won two races in their lifetime, three races or even four races. After that, they generally have to run against other claimers that have won more races, or they can run in restricted races called "beaten claiming races" for horses that have not won a certain number of races in a certain time. Claiming horses are those runners that aren't quite fast enough to compete at higher levels, so these races are written to allow similar types of horses to compete against one another. Of course, the risk is that someone will claim the horse. There are restrictions to claiming a horse that make it a little more difficult than just writing a check, however. Claims must be made prior to the race being run, and trainers cannot inspect the horse. Claiming races are the most frequently run type of race, and good trainers will place their horses at the appropriate levels knowing that this is a sport where success is always based on the ability to withstand some level of risk.

Allowance Races - Horses that win and do not need to run in claiming races to be competitive will generally start off in allowance races. These races also normally have restrictions. One of the most common racing terms when speaking about allowance races is "other than". Other than is a shortened version of the full race restriction. For example, an "a other than" is for a horse that has broken their maiden but has not won any other race except for a claiming race or a starter allowance (a race for former claimers that is not quite a regular allowance). The "other than" races are run in progression. You start off in an "a other than" (also called a one other than) and then progress to "two other than" after you win your first allowance race. "Two other than" again meaning a race for horses that have never won two races that were not a maiden, claiming or starter allowance. Generally this should give you an idea of the toughness of the race. The higher the number before the "other than" the tougher the race.

Optional Claiming Races - This is a race that we won't spend too much time on, but we are seeing more of. An optional claiming race is an allowance race. It will normally have one of the "other than" conditions attached to it. However, an optional claimer will also allow horses to be entered for a designated claiming price. These are normally horses that have already won the allowance race and have run out of conditions or are not quite good enough to make the next step up. That is why these races can be very difficult, because you have a mix of allowance horses and tough older horses that might already have won this same race but are still eligible because they are running for a claiming price in the race.

Stakes Races - These are the races we all dream of. Normally, these races require a fee to become eligible for the race and also a fee to run in the race. The fees can range from nominal to more than tens of thousands of dollars for races like the Kentucky Derby or Breeders' Cup. Stakes races also vary. There are several levels of stakes races. The most prestigious are the Grade 1 races. These are races like the Triple Crown races and the Breeders' Cup as well as other long standing races that normally draw the best horses. The other level of graded stakes are Grade 2s and Grade 3s. These races often have some excellent horses but do not have the purse, prestige, history or depth of top horses in their races. A committee assigns races their grades at the end of each year for the next year, so races can improve or lose their grade. There are also non-graded stakes races. These races usually feature slightly less accomplished horses, and they generally run for purses of less than $100,000. These are races that tracks write to attract better horses better are not quite at the level of graded stakes.

So, there you have it, a crash course on condition books and race types. If you're looking for the advance level course, go ahead and hop into the condition books at Equibase.


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