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Well, sort of.  A horse breaking a step slow isn’t always a bad thing. I’ll explain...


Earlier this week at Palm Beach Downs I had a great chat with Bob Duncan, a legend in the racing industry who's been around a starting gate for the better part of 45 years and was head NYRA starter for 10 years. A longtime friend and the most respected starter in the business, Bob now spends time in Saratoga and South Florida working as a private consultant.

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We talked about schooling young horses in the gate -- why some horses consistently break better and generally handle the gate experience better than others.


The reality is some horses:

  • Have quicker reaction times than others

  • Are more deliberate with their first strides out of the gate

  • Are sluggish no matter how many times they school in the morning

  • May be hesitant to “push off” because something is bugging them physically - usually in their hind ends


One of the biggest challenges of the starting gate is having a horse on their toes and ready to break sharply but also relaxed and confident during the process.


The entire gate training process requires repetition (but not too much repetition), patience, and understanding of how horses think. The trainer and starter must strike a balance between schooling a horse enough that they know what’s going on and schooling them too much that they become mentally fried. Bad habits or fear of the gate in early training can take months or years to overcome.


If breaking better simply required more time in and around the gate in the mornings, things would be easy and trainers would have their horses at the gate three times a day every day.


Bob stressed, “It's not about breaking great and folding like a cheap suit after a quarter of a mile. It’s about breaking with ease and balance and getting into a rhythm so the horse can finish strongly in the race.”


Duncan spends quite a bit of his time working with horses for Todd Pletcher. In a 2014 interview with Karen Johnson for Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, Pletcher said the following:


“Every single race starts at the gate. If you are not prepared there, then you are not prepared to win. I think maybe one misconception people have is that if you want to have one go over there and break well, you want to have them all charged up. Whereas, our experience is that a calm, relaxed horse will break more alertly than a nervous, fired-up personality. It’s an interesting process because when you are getting young horses to run you teach them the need to really run away from the gate. And when you do that, mentally they become more wound-up. So it’s kind of a step forward, half-step back process. You want to get them to where they break alertly, but you also want them to be calm while they are doing that, and I think Bob is really good at that.”


When a horse breaks slowly a few times, many people jump to the conclusion that they need more gate schooling. With young horses, frequent, laid-back visits to the gate are often beneficial and confidence-building, but it would be foolish to break a horse out of the gate at full speed day in and day out. Doing so would result in a dull, sour and injured horse.


I’d much rather have a horse break a bit slowly but then settle into a really nice rhythm for the jock versus a horse who breaks like a bat out of hell because they are scared and simply just want to get out of dodge. Some horses freeze up when they are anxious and scared, which doesn’t bode well for a smooth break or good effort in a race.


You’ll often see first-time starters calm, cool, and collected behind and in the gate in their first starts before getting nervous and washy behind the gate second time out -- they know what’s going on.


In between races many young horses are brought to the gate to stand, but they don’t break. They may go in and out a few times to take the edge off and reduce anxiety.


Another factor that comes into play is having a horse relaxed and focused but also balanced with all four feet on the ground. As former jockey Richard Migliore said, “It’s not always the horse who is on their toes the most that gets away the quickest, it’s the horse who has all four feet squarely on the ground.”


With thousand pound animals in such a tight, claustrophobic space, it can be difficult for every assistant starter to have his horse standing absolutely square with their head straight and in the correct balance when the latch is sprung. All it takes is a sudden shift of their weight, and a horse may break a step slowly or swerve to either side the first jump out of the gate. Some horses lose their balance when they have to push off with their hind ends and go from zero to full speed quickly and others lose their footing and stumble.


If a horse is required to stand in the gate for a long time due to a big field or an issue with another horse, they may become bored and/or unfocused and not ready to pop out of there in a literal split second.


One big key is having horses trust the assistant starters who load and handle them in the gate. The best assistant starters instill confidence in horses. Duncan uses natural horsemanship methods when teaching horses -- the gate training process has definitely evolved over the years. There is little strong-arming, and he knows horses have different needs and learn at different rates.


In a sport where two wins from 10 starts is a healthy win percentage you certainly don’t want a bad break compromising your horse’s chances. On the flipside, there’s definitely a balance between keeping your horse relaxed and enjoying his job at the expense of them not breaking on top.

6
Read/Write
DLenert
Jan 26 2017 - 10:43am
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2 pm on January 19, 2017

Well, sort of.  A horse breaking a step slow isn’t always a bad thing. I’ll explain...


Earlier this week at Palm Beach Downs I had a great chat with Bob Duncan, a legend in the racing industry who's been around a starting gate for the better part of 45 years and was head NYRA starter for 10 years. A longtime friend and the most respected starter in the business, Bob now spends time in Saratoga and South Florida working as a private consultant.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43
Terry's Blog

Gulfstream Racetrack - the hottest (no pun intended) racetrack on the East Coast during the winter months. The Gulfstream Championship Meet runs from December 3rd through April 2nd. During this time, the most recognized faces and names in the racing industry compete. Owned by the Stronach Group, the track was opened in 1939 and is located in Hallandale Beach.


Gulfstream Park holds several important horse racing dates. It’s most famous for being the home of the $1 million Florida Derby, a key Triple Crown prep that will be run for the 66th time this year. Sunshine Millions day is January 21st and features five stake races worth a total of $900,000 in purses. The March 4th Fountain of Youth Stakes is another important Kentucky Derby prep race run in South Florida.

 

The inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup is being run on January 28th. West Point is participating in this marquee event with graded stakes winner Breaking Lucky.


The Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Old in Training Sale is held March 1st at Gulfstream. On the Monday before the sale, the 2-year-olds perform under tack on the racetrack for potential buyers. The live auction is then held Wednesday evening in the paddock. The Green Monkey sold for $16 million at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training sale held at Calder Racecourse!

 

Gulfstream Park has so much to offer. The grounds hold not only a racetrack, but a casino, several restaurants, shops, and even a bowling alley! One of the great things about Gulfstream is its location. Besides being in warm and sunny South Florida, it’s only 21 miles North of the heart of Miami, 12 miles South of Fort Lauderdale, and 65 miles South of West Palm Beach.


Here are some things you can do in South Florida, while visiting Gulfstream Park. Make a fun trip out of your visit to the Sunshine State!


1. South Beach

This popular destination has beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels, fabulous shopping, a world known party scene. The FontaineBleau is a historic and well-known landmark in the city of Miami. An upscale and elegant hotel, you will often find celebrities staying at the FontaineBleau on vacation or performing at its nightclub venue, LIV.


2. Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood

Not only does this location have a casino inside the hotel, the grounds hold several shops, restaurants, nightclubs and bars, music venues, a spa, and nearby golf courses.


3. Shopping

Visit Wynwood. This “hipster” neighborhood in Miami has districts with fashion, art, and technology. Aventura Mall, upscale shopping mall in North Miami.

 

4.Water activities

Swim with dolphins or if you prefer more of a thrill, get launched into the air when you Water Jet Pack in the ocean. Deep sea fishing in the area is also a lot of fun.

 

5. Miami sports

Attend a Florida Panthers hockey game. See a Miami Heat game at the American Airlines Arena or watch a Miami Dolphins football game at Hard Rock Stadium.

Read/Write
TealAlbertrani
Jan 17 2017 - 3:23pm
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3 pm on January 17, 2017

Gulfstream Racetrack - the hottest (no pun intended) racetrack on the East Coast during the winter months. The Gulfstream Championship Meet runs from December 3rd through April 2nd. During this time, the most recognized faces and names in the racing industry compete. Owned by the Stronach Group, the track was opened in 1939 and is located in Hallandale Beach.

TealAlbertrani
TealAlbertrani's picture
10246

When are we running? That's probably the most popular question any Thoroughbred racing manager or trainer is asked. While the question is rather simple, the answer is not always as easy. Why? Well, owners and trainers are really at the mercy of the track's racing secretary, the person who writes the condition book, also known as the holy grail of racetrack information. 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 develop the training regimens for their horses for this time period. While this seems straightforward, there are a number of factors that can change the timing of races. You see, just because a race is in the condition book doesn’t mean that enough horses will enter the race to warrant it being used. That is why you’ll 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. Fortunately stakes schedules are typically published weeks or months ahead of time, so with certain horses planning ahead is much easier.


To further complicate things, the racing secretary can also write extra races. These little gems are substitute races that trainers are given pretty short notice about. Normally, these are races that trainers have lobbied for and races the racing secretary believes have a good chance to fill.  Good racing secretaries know which horses are on their grounds and what conditions they are eligible for. Their goal is to write competitive races with full fields of horses. Astute trainers are always checking the overnights to see if a suitable race pops up for one of their horses. Thus, a horse may not be pointing for any particular race one day, but then all of a sudden have an imminent race target the next day.  

 

So, when you look at our upcoming races and see horses pointing for certain spots, just like that you'll see that the plans have changed one way or another. When races do not fill or an extra race comes up, the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat and it can take some creative and even out of the box thinking to get a horse into an ideal race. The uncertainty can be frustrating for everyone, especially when horses are ready to run and a race does not fill and also when owners make travel plans in anticipation of running on a certain day.


It would all be so easy if all horses were created equal, but they're not. Therefore, you have to look for races that fit your horse. A summary of the most frequently discussed types of races.


Maiden Special Weight - We like to call these the training wheel races. These are for horses that have never won a race, and a horse is not eligible to run in them after they have visited the winner’s circle. They are written for certain ages and genders. Males 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 who have never won, and are eligible to be claimed, or bought for a designated dollar amount.


About 70% of all races in North America are claiming races, and they are written at a variety of levels. You’ll often see “conditioned” claiming races, where the horse must fit a certain criteria in order to be eligible. For example, a common race is a 25k “non winners of two” lifetime claimer. This means every horse in the field has only won one (or technically 0) race(s). A 25k “non winners of three” race is only open to horses who have won two or fewer races. The claiming price a horse runs for is at the discretion of the owner and trainer.


Once a horse goes through the conditioned claiming ranks (some tracks go up to “non winners of four”, but those races are rare), they can either step up into the allowance ranks, or run in “open” claiming races where there are no performance limitations in the conditions.


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. To maintain as even of a playing field as possible, a risk-reward situation is created. Running a horse in a claiming race often provides class relief, which can lead to a reward (wins, confidence-building), but the risk is that the horse is claimed. This essentially creates a checks and balances system as wagering on horse racing would not be viable if one horse was supremely dominant over every other horse in a race. 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 a level of risk.


Starter Allowances - These races are intermediate steps between claiming races and allowance races. A horse cannot be claimed out of a starter allowance, but in order to be eligible for this type of race, they must have run for a claiming price previously at or below a certain level based on the conditions of the starter allowance race.


Allowance Races - Horses who break their maiden and do not need to run in claiming races to be competitive will generally start off in allowance races. Many of these races also have certain conditions that must be met in order for a horse to be eligible.


One of the most common racing terms when speaking about allowance races is "other than", a shortened version of the full race restriction. For example, an "a other than" or “one other than” is for a horse who has broken their maiden but has not won any other race except for a maiden, claimer, or starter allowance. This means a horse can break their maiden, and technically win an unlimited number of claiming races, and still be eligible for an “a other than” or first level allowance. However, once a horses wins their first allowance race, they are no longer eligible for that condition. See the exceptions to this below under “optional claiming races”.


The "other than" races are run in progression. Horses start off in an "a other than" and then progress to "two other than" after winning their first allowance race . A "two other than" a race for horses who 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. Three and four “other than” races can be difficult to fill because the higher up you go, there are less horses to fill the races.
 

Optional Claiming Races - Many allowance races these days are also written with optional claiming clauses. This allows for horses who have already won an allowance race and have possibly run out of conditions to come back and compete at the same level. However, if they’ve already burned a certain condition, they must run for a claiming tag to run in the same race again.


On the flip side, a trainer may enter a horse for the claiming tag a certain level knowing that if they win and don’t get claimed, they can come back and run in the same exact race under the allowance condition. Sometimes these races can be tricky because they can attract young, inexperienced horses who are trying to work their way up the ladder, and also older, salty veterans who have won a number of races and are in for the claiming tag.


Stakes Races - These are the races we all dream of. They are also the easiest to plan for since stakes schedules are published well in advance of the races. There are generally fees to nominate to and to run in stakes races and the fees can range from nominal to more than tens of thousands of dollars for races like the Kentucky Derby or Breeders' Cup.


There are several levels of stakes races. The most prestigious are the Grade 1 races like the three jewels of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. There were 109 Grade 1 races run in North America in 2016.


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. There were 133 Grade 2 and 222 Grade 3 races run in 2016.


A committee assigns races their grades at the end of each year for the next year, so races can improve or be downgraded. There are also non-graded stakes races which usually feature slightly less accomplished horses, and they generally run for purses of less than $100,000. Oftentimes these are referred to as “overnight stakes” or “listed stakes”.


In a handicap, the racing Secretary or track handicapper assigns weight based upon past performances with the goal of giving each horse an equal chance to win the race.

 

So, there you have it, a crash course on condition books and race types. If you're looking for more advanced information on this, go ahead and hop into the condition books on Equibase.

 

FREE  REPORT 5 Things You Need  to Know BEFORE  Buying a Racehorse

2
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DLenert
Dec 30 2016 - 10:14am
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3 pm on December 19, 2016

When are we running? That's probably the most popular question any Thoroughbred racing manager or trainer is asked. While the question is rather simple, the answer is not always as easy. Why? Well, owners and trainers are really at the mercy of the track's racing secretary, the person who writes the condition book, also known as the holy grail of racetrack information. Ah, the condition book. Two words that both bring both joy and frustration.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

West Point Thoroughbreds celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. We owe our success to our horses and loyal Partners, the people who have grown the company into one of the leading racing syndicates in the country. It all started back in 1991 with an Army captain who was determined to build and live the American dream.

Horses can take people on incredible journeys and change their lives. The West Point team looks forward to the next 25 years of making memories on the racetrack and enjoying the camaraderie with our Partners.

For new propsective Partners interested in becoming part of the next 25 years of the West Point Thoroughbreds family, get answers to the top question new people considering ownership ask us.  We look forward to getting to know you!

What's the

2
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Charley Germain (not verified)
Sep 30 2016 - 2:55pm
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12 pm on September 08, 2016

West Point Thoroughbreds celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. We owe our success to our horses and loyal Partners, the people who have grown the company into one of the leading racing syndicates in the country. It all started back in 1991 with an Army captain who was determined to build and live the American dream.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

West Point Thoroughbreds achieved a 700 win milestone Sunday, August 28 when three-year-old filly Street Surrender won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields. Street Surrender drove home clear by four and a half lengths.

The win was the also the first under West Point silks for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

It was the horse racing partnership group’s 700th win since 1991 when West Point’s first syndicated horse, Sun Belt, won at Philadelphia Park. It’s been onward and upward ever since that September day for Terry and Debbie Finley and West Point Partners. The racing syndicate has racked up 91 stakes wins for its Partners, including nine grade one victories. West Point horses have brought their owners to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships stage 18 times, winning last year’s Dirt Mile with Liam’s Map. West Point Partners have danced in the Triple Crown races eight times, highlighted by Commanding Curve’s runner-up finish in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.

Never one to rest on its laurels, West Point plans to reach win number 701 quickly. This morning from Saratoga Springs West Point President and CEO Terry Finley said, “We are at the sixteenth pole of summer racing. Have some bullets left on both coasts. Thanks to the entire West Point Family for win number 700 last night at Golden Gate and our first win with Jerry!”

With lifetime earnings of over $38 million, a win rate of 18% and ITM at 48%, the stable continues to provide people access to ownership and competition at horse racing’s highest levels.

5
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DLenert
Aug 31 2016 - 1:40pm
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9 am on August 29, 2016

West Point Thoroughbreds achieved a 700 win milestone Sunday, August 28 when three-year-old filly Street Surrender won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields. Street Surrender drove home clear by four and a half lengths.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

With the Saratoga meet in full swing, excitement circulates the town. In horse racing, it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.”


While we welcome the class of 2016 2-year-olds, you may see an old, familiar face on the racetrack. Does the name Songster hit a high note for you?


The dark bay (nearly black) thoroughbred with a distinctive blaze and a white eye accompanying trainer Tom Albertrani’s horses to and from the track was once in the same shoes as the youngsters he is helping keep calm now.


As a stablemate of the 3-year-old Eclipse winner Bernardini in 2006, Songster was owned by Darley Stable and was one of the fastest sprinters my father ever trained. He earned $377,028 in his career and was a multiple graded stakes winner, having captured the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (Gr. 3) and Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Stakes (Gr. 2) at age three and the Bold Ruler Handicap (Gr. 3) at age four.


I was 12 years old when Songster was in the barn and would visit him more than any other horse -- he just loved attention. If you walked past his stall he would nicker for you to come greet him. My dad would have to drag my sister and I out of the barn to go home because we never wanted to leave Songster’s side.

 

One morning during training, Songster kept nickering and making noise as my my dad walked by his stall. When my dad turned around, Songster had a huge pile of straw all over his head. Dad said, to him “You wanted to be blonde today, Songster?” His personality was as if he was a dog stuck in a horse’s body. Not only was he a talented racehorse with top class speed, he was also an intelligent horse with a spunky spirit.


After a successful career, Songster was retired to stud. He went to Darley Stud in Lexington, KY (Songster's breeding ad), but his second career was short-lived due to sterility issues. He attempted a racing comeback (Bloodhorse article on Songster's return to racing) but was ultimately retired to Farnsworth Farm in Ocala, FL to enjoy the rest of his days grazing in an open field and relaxing.


Over the years, I often asked my dad what Songster was up to and suggested we try to get him back. I knew his racing days were over because he was too old, but thought maybe we could retrain him to be a pony. The thought always stayed in my mind, but I knew it probably wouldn’t be possible.


Oddly enough, we ran into the owners of Farnsworth Farm at Gulfstream Park, and I immediately asked them how Songster was doing. I let them know he was my favorite horse growing up and that I was willing to buy him. They said Songster was one of the coolest horses they had ever seen and that he was spending his days out in a field, but they would be more than happy to let us take Songster back and try to make him into a “pony”.


A couple weeks later, my dad and I took a trip to the Ocala Breeder’s Sale and decided to visit Songster at the farm. As we pulled up, we saw the beautiful dark horse with that distinctive blaze. The moment we stepped out of the car he walked towards us and starting nickering for attention. This was the first time my dad and I were seeing him in 10 years and he was the same old Songster. The moment we went up to pet him my dad instantly reconnected. He turned to me and said, “We have to take him back and give it a try.”


Before we knew it, Songster was back in the Albertrani barn at Palm Meadows Training Center. He adjusted easily to the western saddle from his formative years under racing tack and we began acclimating him with Palm Meadows, but this time in the role of the stable pony.

The same Songster with a feisty character emerged, just with more maturity than that of the 3-year-old colt he was. His intelligence enabled him to adapt to his new life as a pony very easily and he really took a liking to his new role. He understands his position and even follows his rider on the ground without being led.


Songster is now in Saratoga and will be accompanying the racehorses back and forth to the track each morning and spending his afternoons grazing in the open field at Godolphin’s adjacent private training facility. When Songster first arrived at chilly Saratoga from the balmy climate of Florida, he put on a performance caught on video by the assistant trainer. The moment he was turned loose in the paddock, he began bucking, kicking and squealing in such a playful manner that you could see that the “spirit of the racehorse” never really left him.


As Songster’s story shows, retired racehorses can still enjoy the connection to the busy racetrack lifestyle. Oftentimes the work-driven Thoroughbred even benefits from having a job following their racing careers. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Funny Cide, and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Work All Week, are two other recently retired racehorses who became ponies when their racing days were completed.


If you’re on the Saratoga backside this summer, chances are you’ll see our “big dog” at work.

 

19
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Delrene (not verified)
Aug 30 2016 - 7:24pm
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4 pm on July 25, 2016

With the Saratoga meet in full swing, excitement circulates the town. In horse racing, it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.”


While we welcome the class of 2016 2-year-olds, you may see an old, familiar face on the racetrack. Does the name Songster hit a high note for you?


The dark bay (nearly black) thoroughbred with a distinctive blaze and a white eye accompanying trainer Tom Albertrani’s horses to and from the track was once in the same shoes as the youngsters he is helping keep calm now.

TealAlbertrani
TealAlbertrani's picture
10246

It's pretty powerful when the industry unites to support a worthy cause. One tweet started an initiative rallying Thoroughbred owners to support the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, and numerous owners and Belmont Park jockeys answered the challenge.

"Our jockeys take incredible risks pursuing their passion each and every time they get a leg up,” said Terry Finley, founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “It's our responsibility as owners to help them by supporting PDJF initiatives so jockeys know we have their backs should they experience a life-altering disability."

Check out the PDJF facebook page for the history of the 'Running Man" challenge and enjoy the video below.

1
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SWilliams
Jun 9 2016 - 12:15pm
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9 am on June 08, 2016

It's pretty powerful when the industry unites to support a worthy cause.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

Today is the Kentucky Derby, the greatest two minutes in sports. My husband and I weren’t planning on going to the Derby this year, until about two days ago. One of our good friends had two extra tickets and invited us, so I went through my hats and fascinators from past years and put an outfit together at the last minute.

Sometimes I just love watching the television broadcast and seeing all the interviews and behind the scenes stories. The years I’ve watched on TV, it isn’t until they play “My Old Kentucky Home” that I regret not going.

Two years ago West Point Thoroughbreds Commanding Curve ran second in the Derby.

I knew it would be an emotional time for me, my family, my colleagues, and our Partners. I don’t take for granted how insanely difficult it is to get a horse into the Kentucky Derby, let alone win it.

I’ll never forget the Derby walkover. The time we spent back at the barn waiting for the “Derby trainers bring your horses to the paddock” announcement felt like an eternity. There were a bunch of us back at Dallas Stewart’s barn, and there was a weird quietness as all of us processed the “What If?”

In one sense I was on top of the world...about to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby. The. Kentucky. Derby. In another I was sick to my stomach with nerves and anxiety. In another filled with worry and just wanting our horse to come home safe and sound.

When we walked out of the barn with Curve, I couldn’t help but just be proud. Proud of him most of all, but proud of our team for picking him out, proud of Dallas and his team for getting him to this point, and proud to walk alongside my colleagues and a great group of partners.  My parents, brother, husband and I held hands and started started the trek toward the TwinSpires. It’s a walk I’ll never forget.

Being in the paddock was pretty much a blur. I just remember Dallas and Terry giving Shaun Bridgmohan a hug and wishing him a safe trip.

We (somehow) managed to get up to the box area to watch the race. I felt I didn’t let my nerves get the best of me until they played “My Old Kentucky Home”, but then I couldn’t help but cry.

Surprisingly I stayed pretty calm when they loaded into the gate. Maybe it was God’s way of telling me I had nothing to worry about and our horse was going to run the race of his life. I don’t really know.

Around the first turn, I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence. Curve was climbing and didn’t look comfortable. Down the backside I knew he was near last, but it was so hard to tell anything with such a big field and so many people around jumping up and down and screaming.

I just remember my dad yelling, “He’s runnin’ Dallas!” At that point I’m like ok cool we might get a piece of this. Then at the top of the stretch I saw Shaun swing Curve out and come running at California Chrome.

For a split second, or maybe even a few seconds I thought we were gonna win. It was the best feeling in the entire world. Even when we finished a fast closing second, we were crying like babies, hugging, kissing, and jumping up and down. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think we’d won.

So, my advice to everyone with a horse in the Derby is to soak it in. Get back to the barn and take in the awkward silence as everyone processes the “what if”. Walk proudly behind your horse and embrace the nervous butterflies in your stomach. Cry when my Old Kentucky Home starts playing. Be grateful when your horse returns to the barn safe and sound.

And oh yeah if you’re lucky enough to have a horse who’s motoring at the top of the stretch, hold that feeling of “Oh my God we’re gonna win the Derby” in a bottle for the rest of your life. I can’t even imagine what winning is like, but I can tell you, just thinking we were going to was pretty amazing.

A little over a month after Curve ran second, I got married. When I danced with my dad, the first thing I said to him was, “You know we almost won the Kentucky Derby.” We’ll get there one day.

11
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DLenert
May 24 2016 - 8:30am
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8 am on May 07, 2016

Today is the Kentucky Derby, the greatest two minutes in sports. My husband and I weren’t planning on going to the Derby this year, until about two days ago. One of our good friends had two extra tickets and invited us, so I went through my hats and fascinators from past years and put an outfit together at the last minute.

Sometimes I just love watching the television broadcast and seeing all the interviews and behind the scenes stories. The years I’ve watched on TV, it isn’t until they play “My Old Kentucky Home” that I regret not going.

Two years ago West Point Thoroughbreds Commanding Curve ran second in the Derby.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

Spend the morning of the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale with Terry Finley, Jeff Lifson, Tom Bellhouse, Erin Birkenhauer, and Tom Durkin. Learn the steps and strategies West Point Thoroughbreds deploys to find the best horses at the 2-year-old in training sales and why we love showing West Point Partners the “inner circle” of the horse sales in this video.

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DLenert
Jan 10 2018 - 9:02am
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3 pm on March 02, 2016

Spend the morning of the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale with Terry Finley, Jeff Lifson, Tom Bellhouse, Erin Birkenhauer, and Tom Durkin. Learn the steps and strategies West Point Thoroughbreds deploys to find the best horses at the 2-year-old in training sales and why we love showing West Point Partners the “inner circle” of the horse sales in this video.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

Finding and selecting the best equine athletes at 2-year-old in training sales takes hard, “roll up your sleeves” work, long hours, and discipline.  Watch how our team uses decades of experience, the art of observation, and technology to select horses for our Thoroughbred partnerships.

 

 

See why we “own” the 2-year-old sales. Six of our eight grade one winners were purchased at 2-year-old in training sales. Come join us this spring and watch West Point Thoroughbreds find your next winner.

 

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