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West Point Thoroughbreds has enjoyed tremendous success at 2-year-old in training sales over the past decade. Juvenile purchases include grade one winners Dream Rush, Awesome Gem, Flashy Bull, Lear’s Princess, and Macho Again and stakes winners Toasting, Empire Dreams, Cajun Spirit, Quality Lass, Quiet All American, Rock Me Baby, Tree of Life, King Congie, Belle of the Hall, Mr. Fantasy, Sunrise Smarty, amongst others.


These sales aren’t for everyone. Critics say the consignors push the horses too hard too fast and others prefer to buy yearlings so they can watch them develop in the program of their choice. There’s no denying that horses being prepped for sales are pushed harder and faster than those who aren’t expected to breeze an eighth of a mile as fast as they possibly can in March.


At the drop of the hammer, it ultimately becomes the end user’s decision about whether to continue pushing a horse to make the races early in their 2-year-old, or to back off and let a horse mature and develop.


“We’ve been buying at the two-year-old sales for over 15 years,” said WPT president Terry Finley. “In a sense, the fact that a horse makes it through the rigorous sales process and vets clean shows shows durability and toughness. Some horses we’ve bought at the sales and sent them directly to their trainers. Other times we've purchased very nice horses but knew they were honed on and needed some time or had later developing pedigrees. Oftentimes there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making prudent decisions.”


There’s a case to be made for buying both yearlings and 2-year-olds, and Jeff Lifson blogs about that here, but in this article we focus on 2-year-olds.


We love 2-year-old in training sales and here’s why:


  • Our team watches the horses on the racetrack, assesses their mechanics, attitude, willingness to train, etc. At a yearling sale, all you’ve got is a walk up and back to assess athleticism. Using computer aided technology, we’re able to analyze breeze videos in slow motion to see which horses use their bodies most efficiently and which horses have the longest, most fluid strides.  Jeff talks in more detail about the “breeze show” in his blog.


  • We have the ability to assess how a horse handles themselves after the breeze show. Are they mentally frazzled or cool customers? Do they appear body sore or exceptionally tired?


  • With another year of maturity, we find that we’re better able to gauge athleticism and conformation. Do all the parts fit together so to speak? A 2-year-old is a more polished, mature product that we know more about. Knowledge is power.


  • Historically, there’s less pedigree power at a 2-year-old sale than there is at premier yearling sales like Fasig-Tipton Saratoga and the early days of Keeneland September, which in turn means more value to end users like us.


  • While pedigree is important, we’re more concerned with athleticism. Take for example 2014 Kentucky Derby runner up Commanding Curve. He was a racy horse by Master Command, who despite being by A.P. Indy hadn’t made much noise as a stallion. Commanding Curve jumped through all of our biomechanical and stride analysis hoops, we paid $75,000 for him, and he has now earned over half a million dollars for his Partners. 

  • NY-bred Empire Dreams is by Patriot Act, who is a well-bred horse, but a rather obscure sire. We purchased Empire Dreams for $35,000 at the 2013 OBS March 2-Year-old in Training Sale after he jumped through every single one of our hoops. He's now a multiple stakes winner who's earned nearly 750k.
     

  • There are hundreds of consignors who showcase their horses every year at the Keeneland Sale, impossible to know them all. We’ve built institutional knowledge about and relationships with 2-year-old consignors over the years and know their programs and philosophies. Those factors are important when it comes to buying horses.

 

 

Visit our available 2-year-olds.

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DLenert
Aug 10 2016 - 9:21am
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10 am on January 04, 2016

West Point Thoroughbreds has enjoyed tremendous success at 2-year-old in training sales over the past decade. Juvenile purchases include grade one winners Dream Rush, Awesome Gem, Flashy Bull, Lear’s Princess, and Macho Again and stakes winners Toasting, Empire Dreams, Cajun Spirit, Quality Lass, Quiet All American, Rock Me Baby, Tree of Life, King Congie, Belle of the Hall, Mr. Fantasy, Sunrise Smarty, amongst others.

EFinley
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Multiple stakes winner Toasting was purchased by WPT at a 2-year-old in training sale

The New York-bred program has positioned itself as the best state-bred racing program in the industry. Racing on the New York Racing Association’s circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga) has been reinvigorated by the income received from the VLT casino at Aqueduct.


Dayatthespa became the first New York-bred to win a Grade 1 Breeders' Cup race, ending her wonderful career with a score in the 2014 Filly & Mare Turf. She was later named Eclipse champion Female Turf Horse. NY-bred La Verdad was crowned Eclipse champion female sprinter of 2015. Other notable statebred stakes runners include Palace, Upstart, and Effinex.


West Point Thoroughbreds’ New York circuit racing partnerships have excelled with statebreds over the years with stakes winners Mr. Fantasy, Rereadthefootnotes, Awesome Vision, and Empire Dreams donning the black and gold.


Below are three reasons why owning a statebred racehorse are advantageous to Thoroughbred owners in New York racing syndicates:


1. Purse Structure

Purses at New York Racing Association tracks have skyrocketed, total purse money is about $185 million annually. $45 million is set aside for New York-bred races.


2. Restricted Races

Owning a New York-bred affords you the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond when running in races restricted to horses bred in the state. The NY-bred program offers over 800 restricted racing opportunities annually (including 45 stakes). There is also a series of stakes races worth over $1,000,000 restricted to horses by stallions standing in New York.


There were 1,404 registered New York-bred foals born in 2015, which accounts for less than 5% of the total North American foal crop.


In 2015, New York-breds captured 99 stakes races across the country, with 16 of those graded stakes races. Many of those horses were developed in statebred races.


NYRA has dedicated three racing days throughout the year to New York-bred racing. The Big Apple Showcase is held in May at Belmont, Saratoga New York Showcase in August, and Empire Showcase in October at Belmont.


3. Did We Mention Purses?

NY-bred maiden special weights and allowances have purses upwards of $60,000 in the fall at Belmont, and over $70,000 in the summers at Saratoga. If a NY-bred competes and excels against open company, they’re eligible for lucrative bonuses.


Statebreds running in open maiden special weights and first level allowances compete for over $100,000. Good stuff, eh?

 

A New York-bred can go through their statebred conditions, earn over $200,000 in those races, and then still have open conditions available to them.

 

New York-bred Empire Dreams capturing the 2015 $300,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park:

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EFinley
Oct 17 2014 - 12:20pm
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12 pm on August 17, 2015

The New York-bred program has positioned itself as the best state-bred racing program in the industry. Racing on the New York Racing Association’s circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga) has been reinvigorated by the income received from the VLT casino at Aqueduct.

EFinley
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Awesome Vision winning the 2013 Saratoga Sunrise Stakes

Let’s start with the simple truth here, before this headline raises your blood pressure to the point of “Call the ambulance and bring my bathrobe and slippers to the emergency room.” At West Point, we buy both yearlings and 2-year-olds, and we’re comfortable offering both at various times of the year to our customers. But there has to be a difference, right? And there have to be pros and cons to owning a piece of a yearling versus a 2-year-old in a racing partnership. There are. And I’m going to spell them out and let the jury - you and other potential racehorse owners - deliberate.

THE OBVIOUS QUESTION: WHAT’S A YEARLING, WHAT’S A 2-YEAR-OLD?

Before I start to list the differences between owning the two, how about some basics? Here goes...

1). A yearling is a horse that is one-year-old. They dropped to the earth, cute as all get out, sometime in the winter and spring on a farm somewhere (generally, but not exclusively, in Kentucky). They are separated from their mommas, referred to as weanlings, and when January 1st of the next year rolls around, they all become 1-year-olds or “yearlings.” They look like a racehorse, but more of a mini-version - an immature one.  Below is Freedom Child. Amazing how much he changed from a yearling to 3-year-old.
 
 
2). A 2-year-old is a more polished product. During that extra year, they’ve typically had a saddle and rider on their back and they’ve been taught to gallop on a farm. There are several factors that determine when they start breezing, or going fast. Those factors include whether or not they're being prepped for a sale, pedigree, owner preferences, maturity, etc. Here's a shot of our 2-year-old Awesome of Course filly Awesome Dame purchased at the OBS March Sale.
 
 
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NEXT OBVIOUS QUESTION: WHERE DO YOU BUY YEARLINGS VS. 2-YEAR-OLD RACEHORSES? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

You don’t go to the local box store with your shopping list in your back pocket and horse trailer parked out back with the motor running. You can buy yearlings and 2-year-olds from the folks who raise them at the farm, from trainers who are readying them for the races, and even after they win their first race (although you’ll typically pay a huge premium in this last case - hey, they just won, didn’t they?) In each of these examples, you’re hunting and pecking all over the country or all over the world to find these horses to buy. Learn the "All-in" costs of owning a racehorse with this one page resource.

Want simpler? Many do. That’s why there are bigger-volume, larger-variety, one-stop shopping places to buy yearlings and 2-year-olds. These are called horse auctions or sales. That’s where we buy, and there are some big differences between yearling and 2-year-old sales.
 
1). Yearling sales - remember when I said that yearlings are immature racehorses? We certainly aren’t looking at the finished product at a yearling sale, meaning we can’t watch them run when we're evaluating them.  
 
What we do is look at their family history, in what is known as a sales catalog. Who’s the father (called a stallion or sire)? What kind of racehorse was he? What kind of offspring has he fathered? What about the mom (called a dam or broodmare) and her kids? Have they been successful? And on and on down the family tree.
 
With yearlings, we have the ability to have a groom pull them out of their stalls so we can eyeball their physique from head to hoof, watch how they move when they walk, and check their attitude during all this poking and prodding. We then start to separate what you like and don’t like.
 
We also use technology to help us narrow down our list of horses. With yearlings we perform cardio analysis (how big is their heart?) and biomechanical analysis (do all the parts fit together? does the horse use its body efficently?)
 
After narrowing down horses that meet our physical, cardo, and biomechanical tests, we call in a veterinarian to examine the horses, looking for potential flaws in breathing, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Then it’s time to decide on our budget once we have a list of horses who "jump through all the hoops". Then the real fun begins, we head to the sales ring. Click here to learn more about "A Day at the Sale."

2). 2-year-old sales - Remember how a more polished product comes with an extra year of experience? Remember that a 2-year-old has learned how to gallop under saddle and how to have a rider on their back? A 2-year-old is closer to being a ready-for-the-races thoroughbred.

So, at a 2-year-old sale, we have the ability to watch the racehorses run. Big difference from a yearling sale.  It happens in a day or two long event called a breeze show, also known as an under tack show - fancy titles for a pretty simple exercise. One after another, these 2-year-olds sprint down the stretch in front of all the potential buyers sitting in the grandstand. The 2-year-olds are timed and videotaped for an eighth, quarter, or sometimes three-eighths of a mile.  

This gives a buyer the chance to compare the times and the mechanics of each 2-year-old that flashes by, and it gives that buyer a chance to go back and look at the videotape to refresh their memory  on each individual horse before deciding whether or not to start bidding.

Keep in mind that buyers at a 2-year-old sale also do all the evaluating stuff they do at the yearling sales. They look over the catalog pages for the family tree, they pull the horse out of the stall and eyeball the physique, they call in their vet for further testing. But the breeze show is the added element.

Like we do with yearlings, we also perform cardio and biomechical analysis. We also work with a company who shows us breezes in slow motion, it helps us identify the most fluid, efficient movers. A horse may look good coming down the lane, but the reality could be that the left front twists into the ground, putting the horse at increased risk of injury.

Here's a look at our NY-bred Court Vision colt named Heated Verdict breezing before the OBS March Sale:

 

 
TOP FIVE REASONS TO BUY A YEARLING
1). The less you know, the cheaper the price and the better the breeding. Let’s face it, when you don’t have the ability to watch the horse run, in theory you’re paying for the strength of the family tree and how the horse looks standing in front of you. With that much mystery remaining, you can typically buy more of a potential superstar (on paper, at least) with less money.  

2). More variety. We buy at the best-known yearling sales throughout the world, and there are simply more horses available at those sales versus at the 2-year-old sales. If you totaled up all the North American 2-year-old sales horses available in one year, that number would still be fewer than those available at the single largest yearling sale that takes place in Kentucky every fall.  

3). Younger horse, fewer issues. It stands to reason that a horse that hasn’t had a rider on its back and hasn’t been asked to gallop and begin to become an athlete will typically have less physical problems that crop up at the point of sale. It’s the new car with low mileage analogy.  

4). A lump of clay to mold. If you have kids, think about this - and if you don’t, play along. What if you didn’t have a chance to raise those kids from the moment they arrived at the hospital? Think about the habits you’d like them to develop versus what someone else would develop. And then think of a yearling as a horse that is closer to a newborn than a 2-year-old. A yearling is a lump of clay that your experts can develop at its own pace with your goals for that racehorse in mind.  

5). Time - it’s your friend. When you buy a yearling, you’re a while away from racing, so there’s plenty of time to progress through all the steps that go into developing a great racehorse.  There’s no pressure to run - racehorses can’t start racing until they’re two, so that’s a non-issue when you buy. If your horse has a setback (it gets sick or it gets hurt or it gets ornery) and you’re dreaming of the Kentucky Derby or the Kentucky Oaks, relax. It’s a long way off. You bought a yearling, so you have TIME.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO BUY A 2-YEAR OLD

1). Knowledge is power. You remember how with a 2-year-old, you can watch a horse run at a breeze show? You can compare times to others running at the same sale, and you can slow down the videotape and really look at a horse’s mechanics as they run hard. That’s a lot more than you can know at a yearling sale.

2). 2-year-olds are sometimes race-ready. Are you so ready to race that you can hardly stand it? Are you dreaming of box seats, post parades, blood-pumping stretch drives and pictures in the winner’s circle? Buy a 2-year old and you could be racing the next week. Most horses that come through a sale need a little time to decompress, but since 2-year-olds are allowed to race in North America, you could buy a horse that you take from the auction ring to winners circle in a matter of days, weeks, or a few short months.

3). These horses have been in the pressure cooker. If a 2-year-old made it to the sales grounds, went through the pressure of the breeze show, and passed all of the other physical tests, then they’ve shown you a lot more than any yearling. A 2-year-old that makes it this far has a stronger likelihood of standing up to the bigger tests of the racetrack.

4). Money, money, money. When you get to the races quicker, you can start earning purse money quicker and start paying for the upkeep of your horse. It doesn’t always work out that way, especially if your 2-year-old takes additional time to prepare to race than you anticipated. But without any setbacks, a 2-year-old is closer to earning its own keep.

5). Money, money, money, part 2. It’s a fact: there are some pretty nice races and purses available to horses that have gone through a specific 2-year-old sale, scheduled throughout the year and across the country. If you’ve got a fast runner, it’s a nice bonus to have in front of you.

TOP REASON NOT TO BUY A YEARLING

You know less, so more can go wrong. When you buy a younger horse, there’s a whole lot that will need to develop before it can race. The horse can go through growth cycles that change the athlete from the superstar you bought to an awkward klutz. And let’s not forget that you’ve never actually seen them run, when you buy a yearling. They can look fast as fast can be, but when it comes time to smash the accelerator at the racetrack, there’s no giddyup there.

TOP REASON NOT TO BUY A 2-YEAR-OLD

You know more, but you’ve stressed the horse to get there. Ask any human athlete how stressful it can be physically and emotionally to train for the big game or the big event. When sellers put pressure on a young 2-year-old to make it to the sales and the breeze show and be successful, it’s pretty darn stressful. There’s wear and tear - physical and mental. That fast-looking 2-year-old might have had its best day possible on the day it went an eighth of a mile down the lane...and is heading south from here on out. You’ve got to be a sharp observer to gauge which of the 2-yearolds that pass all the tests have even better days ahead.

So there you have ‘em - the pros and cons, the benefits and drawbacks, to buying yearlings versus 2-year-olds. Is there a definitive better choice? There is not. When it comes to racing partnerships and making this decision, at West Point we purchase both. We’ve had more success with our 2-year-old buys to date, but have had plenty of fast horses we’ve bought as yearlings as well. The mistake I believe anyone makes is to avoid one type of sale versus the other. You can miss out on a life-changing racehorse that way.

I thought finally it’d be useful and fun to look a the last 15 years of Kentucky Derby winners and see which ones came out of a yearling sale, a 2-year-old sale, or no sale at all (meaning that the folks who raised the horse, raced it as well - that’s called a homebred). Here are the results:
 
2015 -- American Pharoah Homebred (although he went through the ring at a yearling sale)
2014 -- California Chrome Homebred
2013 -- Orb Homebred
2012 -- I'll Have Another 2-Year-Old Sale
2011--Animal Kingdom     Yearling Sale
2010--Super Saver            Homebred
2009--Mine that Bird          Yearling Sale
2008--Big Brown                2-Year-Old Sale
2007--Street Sense           Homebred
2006--Barbaro                    Homebred
2005--Giacomo                  Homebred
2004--Smarty Jones          Homebred
2003--Funny Cide              2-Year-Old Sale
2002--War Emblem           Yearling Sale
2001--Monarchos               2-Year-Old Sale
2000--Fusiachi Pegasus    Yearling Sale   

As you'll see, it hardly scientific, hardly definitive, and totally fun to look at. That’s racing!
 
 

SEE OUR AVAILABLE HORSES 

   
 

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DLenert
Jan 20 2016 - 10:24am
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11 am on August 12, 2015

Let’s start with the simple truth here, before this headline raises your blood pressure to the point of “Call the ambulance and bring my bathrobe and slippers to the emergency room.” At West Point, we buy both yearlings and 2-year-olds, and we’re comfortable offering both at various times of the year to our customers. But there has to be a difference, right? And there have to be pros and cons to owning a piece of a yearling versus a 2-year-old in a racing partnership. There are. And I’m going to spell them out and let the jury - you and other potential racehorse owners - deliberate.

JLifson
JLifson's picture
8909
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Should I Buy A Yearling or a 2 Year Old With A Thoroughbred Partnership?

As Friday approaches you can sense a growing buzz around all parts of Saratoga Race Course. Everyone knows what's coming. 40 days of simply the best Thoroughbred horse racing this nation has to offer.

From the "I've had this trip planned for months" casual fan to the hardened "been in Saratoga since May" work rider...everyone has that little flutter in their chest for what's to come. The stakes schedule is full of races that can make a horses pedigree near priceless, but there always seems to be one thing that people can't help themselves from acting neurotic over. And that something is 2-year-old racing.

You don't have to go very far on the Oklahoma backstretch before hearing about "that grey freak in Pletcher's barn" or "the rocket ship Asmussen brought up" or even "this trainer never wins first out but the clockers have been hiding this horses bullet works". All these tips come complete with lofty comparisons to some of racing's legends. At first, a hot tip can seem exciting and exclusive. A younger version of myself was often giddy with thoughts of the fortune I would be making off this great inside information!

But alas, there's a reason trainers ship from far and wide to run here this summer. Many times you'll be tipped on horses running in the same race. I've been in town only two days and I've already got three different fillies in the 6th race on opening day that are a lock.

Over the years I developed the line of thinking that the racetrack is just full of gossip. There can't possibly be this many superstar 2-year-olds here!

But one summer while working as a hotwalker/groom for John Kimmel I came to realize how wrong I was. Our barn fell in love with a stunning colt by Sky Mesa named Bad Hombre. He worked like a machine. Heck, he even walked like a machine. There were a few mornings I think he decided it would be more fun for him to walk me instead of the other way around. Surely we couldn't lose first out.

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Race day came and after a slow start our "sure thing" finished 4th getting nailed late for 3rd by a Phipps horse who seemed to come from out of the clouds finishing faster than anyone. I couldn't believe it. Maybe we all just overestimated Bad Hombre. Maybe he was just a morning glory.

Well about 10 months later a peak back at the results of that maiden race proved more than just a little eye opening.

The Todd Pletcher trained Violence won the race. He was the early favorite in Las Vegas for the Derby after an undefeated 2-year-old year season capped off with a win in the Cash Call Futurity.

2nd place was D Wayne Lukas trained Titletown Five, who would go on to break his maiden next out by nine lengths and eventually competed in the next year's Preakness Stakes.

And 3rd....well that fast finishing blur in the legendary Phipps colors was none other than the next year's Kentucky Derby winner...Orb.

It just goes to show...that even though you should take that hot tip with a grain of salt... you could also see some of racing's future stars on any given day in a maiden race at Saratoga. 

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DLenert
Jun 17 2015 - 10:39am
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3 pm on June 08, 2015

The morning after American Pharoah’s successful bid for the elusive Triple Crown, West Point Thoroughbreds EVP Jeff Lifson took pen to paper about his feelings upon witnessing history and what it takes to be a successful owner in horse racing.

I was the kid in 10th grade who never thought Jay Gatsby was pathetic. Quite the contrary.

JLifson
JLifson's picture
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American Pharoah wins Triple Crown. (NYRA photo.)

We’ve found over the years that some Partners become alarmed when they receive a workout notification and their horse worked five furlongs in 1.03 and the move was ranked 25 of 26 for the day. There are certainly instances where a slow work is a bad work, but many times trainers use slower works by design. On the other hand, a bullet work doesn’t always mean a quality work. Thus, assessing the quality of the move solely by time is not a good idea.


Things to consider when evaluating workouts:


  • Goal of the trainer -- slow and steady maintenance work? quick blowout? stiff breeze where they want the horse to show speed? start off slow and finish strong down the lane?

  • Trainer’s philosophy on speedwork. Some trainers do not believe in working their horses fast. Others, bullet workouts are the norm.  Think Bob Baffert versus Shug McGaughey.  Both are hall of famers with polar opposite work philosophies.

  • Weight of the exercise rider

  • In company vs. solo -- some horses can be lazy by themselves and work faster when they go with another horse. Some horses stay more relaxed when they work in company.  

  • Horse’s tendencies -- some horses are just lazy in the mornings! This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t successful racehorses in the afternoons. Ever heard the phrase “morning glory?” Some horses are brilliant in the mornings but slugs in the afternoons.

  • Did they break away from the pole slow or were they already breezing passing the pole?

  • Were they running off and uncontrollable breaking off from the pole?

  • Works from the gate vs. the pole (located every eighth of a mile)- a horse could break poorly and be slow into stride but still breeze nicely.

  • How much the rider moves their hands during the breeze, especially down the stretch.  

  • Was the rider whipping and driving to get the horse to finish well?

  • How much energy does the horse have crossing the wire, are they laboring or full of run?

  • Are they striding out comfortably or choppy?

  • Did they change leads on cue?

  • Did they work around the dogs (cones used to protect the inside of the turf course), causing them to go wide around the turn?

  • Distance -- a horse has license to get a little tired the first time they breeze at a certain distance.

  • How much did they have left in the gallop out? Did they work fast but then pull up quickly past the wire?

  • Margin of error- all workouts are hand timed by clockers and trainers that are on the complete opposite side of the track when the workout begins. It is not uncommon for a clocker to have a time for a work that is a full second or more different from another clocker or trainer. Other times, clockers will miss the work entirely and will publish the time given to them by the trainer.


Watch Twilight Eclipse breeze earlier this year at Palm Meadows. This graded stakes winner never works fast, but he does it the “right way”. Watch how nicely he strides out and how the rider is motionless on his back. The horse passes the wire and gallops out with gusto. This is an example of a nice work, even though it was ranked 16 of 19.


The video below shows Danzig Moon in his second to last breeze before the Kentucky Derby. His half mile work was the fastest of the day, but trainer Mark Casse felt the colt went entirely too fast for his comfort. He broke off very fast from the pole before getting leg weary nearing the wire.


His work mate on the inside finishes stronger, look at the inside horse whose rider keeps looking back at Danzig Moon as if to say, “Are you gonna pass me, big boy?”  Danzig Moon never does and visually looks like he is slowing down to the wire. His gallop out is none too eye catching either. The good news for his connections, his final work before the Derby was much better AND slower. The colt ended up running a respectable fifth in the race.

How Much Does It Cost To Own a Racehorse With West Point  Thoroughbreds? LEARN MORE >>

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DLenert
Nov 15 2017 - 10:26am
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/news-and-blog/blog/2015/05/08/racehorse-workouts-time-isnt-everything
10 am on May 08, 2015

We’ve found over the years that some Partners become alarmed when they receive a workout notification and their horse worked five furlongs in 1.03 and the move was ranked 25 of 26 for the day. There are certainly instances where a slow work is a bad work, but many times trainers use slower works by design. On the other hand, a bullet work doesn’t always mean a quality work. Thus, assessing the quality of the move solely by time is not a good idea.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618
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Racehorse Workouts: Time Isn't Everything

Jeff Lifson asked me to write a few words about managing travel as a Thoroughbred owner.  I currently am invested in six horses spread throughout the country. Just to give you some perspective I live in Texas and I have no home track. So like the nomadic Ground Transport over the 18 months, I have seen my horses run at the following tracks.


·       Del Mar

·       Santa Anita

·       Arapahoe

·       Laurel

·       Indiana Downs

·       Belmont

·       Saratoga

·       Golden Gate Fields

·       Hawthorne

·       Keeneland

·       Gulfstream

·       Churchill Downs

·       Arlington

·       Fair Grounds


Making plans and then having your horse scratched or not entered can be frustrating, but you need to be flexible in this game. There is nothing worse than hearing “we drew the 14 post so we are not racing this weekend”, or “the race didn’t go”, or “that race had too much speed”.  The health and well-being of the horses and jockeys should always come first.

 

However, I have found over the last few years that if you play your cards right, you can see your horses run the majority of the time.

 

So here is my advice:

 

1)  Get to know you trainer.  

Some are planners and you can see a few weeks in advance where they are going to run. Others are known for making game time decisions. With that said, as well as you know your trainer, you still need to be flexible. It’s much easier to plan ahead with stakes horses. Mike Stidham has been great about letting us know where Ground Transport is running weeks ahead of time, but last fall he made a last minute decision to bypass a race at Laurel for one at Penn National. This totally ruined our weekend plans and a whole print run of t-shirts, but we knew Mike was only looking out for the horse.


2)  Use frequent flyer miles first.

I travel on American Airline, and if I book using miles, I can rebook any flight for one year with no penalty. Right now I have flights from Dallas to Florida and New York that I can use at almost any time to see my horses run.


WPT tip: Southwest is a great option for horse owners as well, as there are no cancellation fees!


3)  Don’t pay for flights until you absolutely have to.  

I’ve booked flights on hold for this Saturday and Sunday to see Lavender Chrissie run at Gulfstream Park. The cost for those flights has not changed at all over the last week. You don’t always get that lucky, but a lot of times you do. Her trainer Dale Romans is more apt to change his mind based on current facts and circumstances, so with Dale I usually don’t book until the last minute.


4)  Read the condition books.  

This will give you a good idea as to when your horse may be running. Especially as your horse matures, you have a much better idea as to where and when they will run. As I said, it can be easier to plan ahead with stakes horses, but not always!


5)  Plan client meetings near the track.  

Clients love to go to the track to see your horse run. But if your horse doesn’t run, you still can have a meeting and write off a business expense.


6)  Plan to go on days when West Point has other horses running.  

One of the best days at the track I ever had was when Miss Lafayette scratched but Rock Me Baby ran huge in a stakes race at Del Mar. The West Point team let my clients and I in the paddock and as always we had a great day and it was a huge success.


7)  Know your horse.

If your horse never runs off the turf or in the slop then look at the weather forecast.  If you have a horse that runs at Fair Grounds on the turf, don’t go, they always come off :).


 

There have been times my horse hasn’t run and I’ve still gone to the track and had a great day because I love the races. If your horse doesn’t run, make Jeff or Tom get up early and meet you at the barn! Watch your horse train and enjoy the beauty you can only find during mornings at the track. Ground Transport is a fun horse to own, but until I saw the attitude and work ethic he brings in the morning, I never truly appreciated him as an athlete.

2
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KMahoney
Mar 26 2015 - 6:10pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2015/03/26/7-tips-to-travel-smarter-as-a-thoroughbred-racehorse-owner
3 pm on March 26, 2015

Jeff Lifson asked me to write a few words about managing travel as a Thoroughbred owner.  I currently am invested in six horses spread throughout the country. Just to give you some perspective I live in Texas and I have no home track. So like the nomadic Ground Transport over the 18 months, I have seen my horses run at the following tracks.

KMahoney
KMahoney's picture
3726
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Kevin Mahoney (left) with Ground Transport in 2013

Putting horses in the best places to succeed means so much more than circling a date on a calendar and then training them to peak at the right time. You need to be flexible, nimble, and not be afraid to make a decision to deviate from the plan. I just wanted to share some thoughts about all the things that went into getting Ring Weekend to the winner’s circle on Saturday after the Kilroe Mile.


After a number of very good works at Palm Meadows (a few in company with Main Sequence), we were very close to calling an audible and running in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on February 7. Graham felt staying on course for the Canadian Turf (G3) on February 21 was the best plan, as Ring could work two more times before the race.


Partner Rob Masiello and I watched him work lights out in company with Champion Main Sequence on February 16 at Palm Meadows.


We got probables for the Canadian about 10 days before race, and knew there was a good chance it would attract a full field. The Kilroe was in the back of our minds, but we wanted to stay home for Ring’s first start of the year.


The Gulfstream overnight came out on Wednesday, February 18. Winning from the far outside post in a field of 14 is a tough assignment -- almost impossible.


We talked to Graham the next morning about the situation and felt him out on the trip out West. The horse was nominated to the Kilroe and Graham felt very comfortable going to Santa Anita, especially considering he could work Ring two more times before the Kilroe. On top of that, Graham is already set up in California, his longtime assistant Alice Clapham has a string out there.

 

I also talked to Vinnie and Teresa Viola of St. Elias Stable, they are team players and completely supported the decision to ship Ring Weekend out for the Kilroe, despite having plans to bring a large group of people to the races on Saturday at Gulfstream. It's great to partner with people who understand the need to be nimble when it comes to managing horses, especially top notch ones like Ring Weekend.

 

The next day I had dinner in Florida with Mike Lakow, an old friend and director of racing at Santa Anita. Almost immediately we had a good sense who the probables were for the Kilroe.  It looked like a tough field on paper, but there were no horses who figured to be even money. The one to beat was Summer Front. He’s a very, very nice horse but he had not won since January of last year.


We waited until Saturday morning to scratch from the Canadian in case there were a bunch of scratches or the race came off the turf. Neither happened. We told the Partners to get ready to head to Santa Anita.


The horse shipped out on Tuesday, February 24 and worked the following weekend with 2014 Eclipse Award winning apprentice Drayden Van Dyke aboard.


Graham had a long chat with young rider last weekend about being more patient on his horses.  Motion said he stressed to him:


You'll never get in trouble for being too patient with any of my horses, you need to wait and then wait a bit longer before you pull the trigger on a horse like Ring Weekend. When you pull the trigger you are going to get a response from this horse.”


Van Dyke rode the horse perfectly and the rest is history.Many of the Partners, including Rob Masiello, St. Elias Stable, and jockey Van Dyke got their first grade one win.


How sweet it is, how sweet it is.


Terry

8
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GZecher
Mar 12 2015 - 1:21pm
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105315
/news-and-blog/blog/2015/03/10/anatomy-of-a-grade-1-win
10 am on March 10, 2015

Putting horses in the best places to succeed means so much more than circling a date on a calendar and then training them to peak at the right time. You need to be flexible, nimble, and not be afraid to make a decision to deviate from the plan. I just wanted to share some thoughts about all the things that went into getting Ring Weekend to the winner’s circle on Saturday after the Kilroe Mile.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43
Blog
Anatomy of a Grade 1 Win

There’s 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 (the normal gestation period in mares ranges from 335 to 345 days), 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 as they need more fuel, especially when producing milk. It’s hard work for a mare to maintain her own body condition and 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 mother 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 time is of the essence. The antibodies provide protection until the foal is several months old and able to build its own immune system.


As early as six weeks before the expected foaling date, the mare may begin “bagging up”, or developing an udder. Other mares don’t bag up until a couple days before foaling. Daily checking of the mare’s udder is recommended in the last month of gestation. Premature udder development can indicate problems with the placenta.


Signs that a mare is within hours of going into labor include: distended udder, swelling of the vulva, waxing of the teats, teat secretions, and milk leaking.


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


Preparatory phase: There is contraction of the uterus and dilation of the cervix. Mares may become restless, refuse to eat, walk in circles, look back toward their flank, and switch their tails. These signs often resemble colic. This is the longest stage of foaling and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours. When the mare breaks her water or starts expelling fluid, the first stage of parturition is completed.  


Labor: This is the most exciting part of the whole process. Just before a foal is the born, the mare will likely sweat profusely, and when contractions begin the mare can either be standing 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.


A foal is on its back until the actual foaling process begins. During labor, the foal then twists inside the mare so that the front legs and head turn over as they exit the mare’s body. The front feet and the muzzle are first to appear! If the foal presents in any other fashion, a veterinarian should be called immediately.


Delivery of the foal should occur within 20-30 minutes of the water breaking. Maiden mares (mares foaling for the first time) are more likely to take about an hour to expel the fetus, and 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 foal. Handlers will often gently move the foal so that the mare can see it, and even touch it for the first time.


Passage of afterbirth: Once the mares stands, she will begin to nuzzle and lick the foal. This is a critical period as the bond is being established between the dam and foal. A mare can identify her foal within an hour of birth, within smell being the primary recognition factor.


The afterbirth is usually expelled within three hours of birth, and the state of the placenta provides important information about the health of the foal. A retained placenta can cause severe infection in a mare, and aggressive treatment may be required if the placenta is not passed.


Foals should be able sit sternal within five minutes of birth, and stand within an hour of birth. 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 their feet, they should attempt to nurse. Sometimes it takes the foal a few tries to locate the teats and begin suckling. Failure of the passive transfer of maternal antibodies (remember colostrum from paragraph 3 above) puts the foal at significant risk of infectious diseases. IgG (Immuno gamma globulin) levels are measured in the blood of neonatal foals. If IGG levels are low, a they may be tubed with more colostrum or receive plasma.


Foals nurse frequently during the first few weeks of life and 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’s time to start growing up, and preparing to be a racehorse!


Miss Part 1? Read it here.

 

Click here to view photos of each stage of the foaling process.

5 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Racehorse

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EFinley
Feb 18 2015 - 3:38pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2015/02/18/breeding-thoroughbred-racehorses-blends-art-and-science-part-2
3 pm on February 18, 2015

There’s 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 (the normal gestation period in mares ranges from 335 to 345 days), watching, and anticipating. It's a time to rejoice when the brand new foal arrives, and mare and foal are healthy.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618
Blog
Breeding Thoroughbred Racehorses Blends Art and Science: Part 2

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