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Do you ever wonder how racehorses ship in the skies? I mean beyond the basic information such as they are transported via charter plane or Fed Ex and it costs thousands of dollars to fly them to their destination. How are they secured for landing? Are they always tranquilized? What health issues are associated with flying?

The answers to those questions and many more are revealed in this informative article by Sean Magee when you click here read it on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary site.

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DLenert
Feb 6 2015 - 3:58pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2015/02/06/shipping-racehorses-in-the-skies
3 pm on February 06, 2015

Do you ever wonder how racehorses ship in the skies? I mean beyond the basic information such as they are transported via charter plane or Fed Ex and it costs thousands of dollars to fly them to their destination. How are they secured for landing? Are they always tranquilized? What health issues are associated with flying?

DLenert
DLenert's picture
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Breeding Thoroughbred Racehorses Blends Art and Science: Foaling Series Part I

It's that time of year again. With each passing day, more and more little ones are running through the fields here in Lexington, Kentucky with their proud moms. From now until June, more than 20,000 Thoroughbred foals will be born in North America. Of the foals born this year, only 20 of them will make it to the starting gate in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. A great deal of work goes into producing a healthy, thriving munchkin. The process begins long before a thoroughbred racehorse is ever born.

 


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

Some people use their years of experience to help them decide which stallion they believe will produce a quality foal with their mare. Many other factors besides mathematical figures go into selecting a stallion including size of the mare and stallion, stud fee, performance of mare and stallion, previous matings, etc.


For instance, a breeder with a small mare would likely choose a tall, large boned stallion (such as Rock Hard Ten or Tiznow) to breed to in hopes of putting some size into the foal. A breeder may chose to mate his sprint type mare to a sprint type stallion (such as Speightstown or City Zip) in hope of producing a speedster, or may chose to mate to a classic distance type runner (A.P. Indy or Pleasantly Perfect) to increase stamina influence. Sometimes the horses with the highest dosages indexes and most prestigious family lines don't live up to expectations. Sometimes horses with obscure pedigrees go on to do great things on the racetrack. That is what makes breeding an art. To browse the Bloodhorse Stallion Register click here.


Once a mare owner selects a stallion, they submit the mare to the breeding farm to be accepted. The stud farm can accept or reject the mare after considering her pedigree, race record, and progeny. Some stallions cover over 200 mares a season, and as with anything, some are in higher demand than others. The term "booked full," means no more mares will be accepted to breed to a particular stallion.


Mares are carefully monitored using ultrasound technology and “teasing” to determine when ovulation is most likely to occur, and the mating should occur as close to the end of the heat cycle as possible. When a mare is in estrus (the phase of the estrous cycle when she is in heat, a period of maximum sexual receptivity), there will be evidence of one or more follicles on her ovaries. Click here to learn about the process of teasing mares and click here to learn how rectal palpation and ultrasound are used to detect ovulation.


A mare’s estrus cycle occurs when the length of daylight is long, and natural estrous (entire cycle) begins in the spring. However, mares can be placed under artificial lights as early as December to prepare them for the beginning of breeding season in February.


The covering process varies depending on the stallion and behavior of the mare. Trained personnel handle both the stallion and mare during the mating process, and many times mares are restrained and protected to prevent injury. An experienced stallion will cover a mare in a few minutes. Other stallions are quirky and may balk at certain types of mares (some stallions will not cover grey mares for instance). Once complete, the mare loads back up and goes home. It’s worth noting that every single cover has to be a live cover. There is no artificial insemination with registered Thoroughbreds.


A pregnancy can be diagnosed using ultrasound about 14 days after ovulation. If a mare does not conceive, she will come back into heat 14-16 days after the end of the last heat period. Sometimes mares return more than once to be bred, but with any luck and skill, it only takes one time. With quality care and some help from Mother Nature, a foal will be born 11 months later.

 

Be on the lookout for Part 2 of this foaling series next week.

 

5 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Racehorse

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DLenert
Oct 27 2015 - 4:47pm
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104835
/news-and-blog/blog/2015/02/04/breeding-thoroughbred-racehorses-blends-art-and-science
11 am on February 04, 2015

Breeding Thoroughbred Racehorses Blends Art and Science: Foaling Series Part I

It's that time of year again. With each passing day, more and more little ones are running through the fields here in Lexington, Kentucky with their proud moms. From now until June, more than 20,000 Thoroughbred foals will be born in North America. Of the foals born this year, only 20 of them will make it to the starting gate in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. A great deal of work goes into producing a healthy, thriving munchkin. The process begins long before a thoroughbred racehorse is ever born.

 

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

A galloping horse displays a four-beat footfall pattern with four distinct beats. When on the right lead the first beat is the left hind, followed by the right hind, left fore, and right fore. There is a period of suspension when all four feet are off the ground.


Racehorses in North America typically run around turns on their left lead and the straightaways on their right lead. The reason for this is that a horse is more balanced when they lead with the leg corresponding to the direction of the turn.


Jockeys often give horses a cue to change leads (often with a flick of the wrist and/or shifting of weight), and many horses learn to change automatically. A horse will get tired if they stay on one lead for too long -- this is analogous to a person switching their suitcase from one hand to another while running through the airport. Here is a closeup example of a horse changing leads.

 

This video shows Midnight Trace negotiating the first part of the turn on his left lead before changing to the right lead at the :23 mark (it happens quickly!).

 

 

This video is a good example of a horse changing leads in the stretch. When it starts, Awesome Vision (jockey in black and gold silks and orange saddle towel) is on his left lead (the same lead a horse is on around the turn), before switching over to the right lead at the 1:46 mark (it happens quickly!!). He is shown winning the 2013 Saratoga Sunrise Stakes.

 

 

Ring Weekend (jockey in green silks and red saddle towel) was on his left lead in this video before switching to his right lead at the 1:39 mark. He is shown winning the 2014 Saranac Stakes (G3).

 

 

In the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1), Commanding Curve (on the far outside with jockey in black and gold silks) switched to his right lead at the top of the stretch (1:44) before switching back to the left lead nearing the finish line (2:05). He finished second to Horse of the Year California Chrome.

 

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EFinley
Jan 6 2015 - 12:31pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2015/01/06/are-wpt-racehorses-insured
12 pm on January 06, 2015

Losing a horse is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult aspect of horse ownership. On this topic, one of the most common questions we receive from owners is, “Are West Point horses insured?”

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

We often hear this question from prospective owners trying to understand the best way to spread risk and diversify their equine portfolios.


If you ask people what their ultimate dream is as horse owners, many will probably tell you it’s winning the Kentucky Derby. The reality is, very few fillies run in the Kentucky Derby, and very, very few have ever won the Kentucky Derby. If you’re set on the chasing the Derby dream, stick with buying colts.


On the other hand, if you are looking for residual value at the end of a racing career, colts are a riskier proposition than fillies if they don’t end up as upper echelon racehorses. If a colt needs to be gelded during their racing career (and many of them need to be), their residual value is minimal. There’s also a very select market for stallion prospects, so even if they don’t get the "snip snip", they have to be really, really well bred and pretty darn special on the racetrack to have significant residual value.

 

However, if you’re lucky enough to own a well-bred, high performing colt, it could mean a stallion deal worth big bucks as the top stallions in the world are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Two former WPT colts have joined mainstream breeding operations, graded stakes winners Flashy Bull and Freedom Child. Multiple grade one winner Macho Again was sold to a South American breeding operation.


Owning a filly poses less risk for investors because they are more likely to have residual value as broodmares if they performed decently on the racetrack. Races for fillies and mares often don’t carry as much prestige as races for the boys, but a winning mare with some pedigree often has more value than her male counterpart with a similar race record.


Several former WPT race fillies were sold as broodmare prospects at the conclusion of their racing careers. West Point Partners realized the benefit of owning graded stakes winning fillies when Dream Rush and Lear’s Princess sold for $3.3 and $2.7 million respectively at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in 2007.


Consider this, there were over 25,000 foals born in 2010 -- that means at least 25,000 mares bred. Currently, the Blood Horse stallion register contains about 2,700 studs, and only a very small percentage of those horses stand at mainstream farms. There are less than 20 stallions who entered stud in North America who stood for $10,000 or more in 2014.


The bottom line is if you buy a racehorse, you should pretty much think about racing. If you’re buying for breeding value before they even start breathing hard in a workout, you’re more than likely going to be disappointed. A good horse can change your life and take you around the world, and it doesn’t matter if it is a filly, a colt, or a gelding.  


We welcome your thoughts on this post. Do you have any questions?

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EFinley
Nov 25 2014 - 2:06pm
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104042
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/11/25/should-i-buy-a-colt-or-a-filly-with-a-thoroughbred-partnership
2 pm on November 25, 2014

We often hear this question from prospective owners trying to understand the best way to spread risk and diversify their equine portfolios.


If you ask people what their ultimate dream is as horse owners, many will probably tell you it’s winning the Kentucky Derby. The reality is, very few fillies run in the Kentucky Derby, and very, very few have ever won the Kentucky Derby. If you’re set on the chasing the Derby dream, stick with buying colts.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

We tell prospective racing partnership owners about how critical it is to have a team of advisors you trust and how pedigree isn't the only thing to look at when evaluating a racehorse.

At the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner's Conference in Lexington this week, that message rang true from multiple panelists. West Point President Terry Finley served on the "Thoroughbred Auctions - Finding the Athletes" panel and offered some key thoughts along with a number of distinguished industry players.

Read the summary of the panel at Blood-Horse.

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DLenert
Oct 15 2014 - 2:04pm
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103485
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/10/15/a-good-team-is-an-asset-in-thoroughbred-horse-ownership
2 pm on October 15, 2014

We tell prospective racing partnership owners about how critical it is to have a team of advisors you trust and how pedigree isn't the only thing to look at when evaluating a racehorse.

At the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner's Conference in Lexington this week, that message rang true from multiple panelists. West Point President Terry Finley served on the "Thoroughbred Auctions - Finding the Athletes" panel and offered some key thoughts along with a number of distinguished industry players.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

Why in the world would you enter a turf race if you want to run a racehorse on dirt?

With fall approaching, the weather becomes more and more unpredictable. You’ll see a good number of horses entered in races for “main track only” across the country.

You guessed it. These horses are entered, but the connections only wish to run if the race is rained off the turf and moved to the dirt or synthetic and there are enough scratches (usually there are at least a few) to accommodate them.

The main benefit of entering a race “main track only” is catching a shorter field than you would if you entered the same condition originally carded for the dirt. Some horses are purely turf competitors, and often times you’ll see them scratched out of races when the track declares grass racing is abandoned on a particular day. Those horses who remain in the race probably don’t do their best running on dirt if their connections originally entered a turf race. With a little luck, you can catch a short, soft field for the level.

For the gamblers out there, you can often get good value on main track only runners who draw into the body of a race. Why? Well, sometimes they are the number 14 or 15, and can be overlooked if there are several scratches to weed through when handicapping.

The main disadvantage with this racing management strategy for Thoroughbred racehorse partnership owners is difficulty in planning. Grass racing typically isn’t called off until the morning of, so in the days before a race owners scour the weather reports and speculate whether or not their horse will compete come raceday. Sometimes you find out at 7am if races are off the turf, other times you find out at noon. If the race stays on the grass, it’s on to "plan b".

At West Point we jump into action to notify our Partners when the decision is made by the tracks. We communicate to our clients with text messaging, email, or phone calls depending on the timing. It makes planning a fun day at the track more difficult, but entering main track only can provide a competitive advantage for horses if you have just a little bit of luck. :)

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DLenert
Oct 4 2012 - 12:19pm
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92211
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/10/14/benefits-and-drawbacks-to-entering-main-track-only-for-racehorse-owners
12 pm on October 14, 2014

Why in the world would you enter a turf race if you want to run a racehorse on dirt?

With fall approaching, the weather becomes more and more unpredictable. You’ll see a good number of horses entered in races for “main track only” across the country.

You guessed it. These horses are entered, but the connections only wish to run if the race is rained off the turf and moved to the dirt or synthetic and there are enough scratches (usually there are at least a few) to accommodate them.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

Long time horse racing enthusiast and horse owner Sharon Balfe shares her thoughts on the unique role Saratoga plays in nurturing one of the often overlooked benefits of joining a horse racing partnership, lasting friendships.

By Sharon Balfe

Over the past 25 years, my husband and I have been to hundreds of Thoroughbred horse races across the United States and Canada. We’ve been fortunate to experience Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, Santa Anita, Keeneland, Monmouth, Gulfstream Park, Woodbine, and many others. Needless to say, the racing was spectacular and exciting. And then the bug bit us. Several years ago, we made the decision to invest in horse ownership with a horse racing partnership. Since that time, we’ve bought numerous horses with other partnerships as well. As one would expect, we learned how the different partnerships operate, enjoyed the benefits of visiting the barns and the backstretch, we stood in awe in the paddocks, and best of all, bathed in the glory of the winners circle. As my husband has always said “there’s nothing more intoxicating than being in the winners circle.” How true!

Along with all the obvious benefits of horse partnerships, there is another aspect that is often overlooked. It’s the friendships that are made and nurtured over the years. I can’t begin to count the friends we’ve made thanks to the involvement in partnerships. But there are a precious few of us that established a unique and special bond…a bond that grows stronger every year. We have shared the births of children and grandchildren, have taken trips together, experienced the Derby in Las Vegas and the Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita, enjoyed cookouts, celebrated pet adoptions, birthdays, anniversaries, and retirements, and provided a shoulder to lean on during the bad times, through surgeries and recoveries, and sadly, passings…all of which have strengthened our friendships. It’s knowing that we really care for each other and want to be a part of each other’s lives.

Although we’ve enjoyed good times with one another at the other tracks, it’s always Saratoga where we all come together every year. While we’re fortunate to live in Saratoga Springs, the others journey from across town, down state New York, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and many other areas to join us on Balfe Corner to socialize, bet, and enjoy the beautiful days at the track. It’s here where we watched our ‘track grandchildren’, the Clancy boys, grow up….where they sat on the cooler, ate snacks, laughed, and shared stories with us. It’s here where cigars are shared, tips are given and received, and where conversations are held with trainers and valets. It’s on the Corner where we watch the men build their exotic tickets, witness the disappointment of losing the pick five in the second leg, and the smiles of success when the big horse comes in. It’s here where we catch up on our lives.

In Saratoga, it’s where we gather on the backstretch morning after morning to watch the horses work, drink the best worst coffee, listen to the coulda, woulda, shoulda stories, and enjoy the sheer beauty of the sunrises and the horses exercise in the fog.

It’s in Saratoga where we relax on the lake…where we eat sandwiches from the Spring Street deli while anchored at the sandbar, where we absorb the beautiful sunsets, where we enjoy the chatter among best friends. It’s here in Saratoga where we experience the wonderful restaurants, bars, shopping, and the walks on Broadway.

And finally, it's here in this enchanted place where we reluctantly say goodbye to one another when it’s time to return home. But it is always with the anticipation of the next event that will bring us all together again.

Yes, horse partnerships offer the opportunity to enjoy horse ownership, visit the barns, experience the backstretch, paddock, and the races. It’s the hope that your horse just may be the ‘one’. But it’s the friendships that make it all worthwhile. It’s the friends that become best friends. It’s the friends that we’ll always remember and cherish.

To all my friends, thank you for the fun and memories.

LEARN MORE OWNERSHIP BENEFITS

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TommyB
Sep 10 2014 - 4:24pm
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102786
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/08/28/an-often-overlooked-benefit-of-racing-partnerships-lasting-friendships
9 am on August 28, 2014

Long time horse racing enthusiast and horse owner Sharon Balfe shares her thoughts on the unique role Saratoga plays in nurturing one of the often overlooked benefits of joining a horse racing p

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

Are you “that guy”?  I used to be him.


You know him...He's your buddy, your fellow partner, or maybe even you.


He's the guy, who no matter the outcome of a race, can explain to you why his horse should have won and can detail the shortcomings of the ride, the break, the post, the track condition, the trip, and the distance.


Unfortunately, we very rarely hear of “that guy” speak of the quality of the competition. Remember Uncle Mo vs. King Congie in their debut?


I can relate to the guy, as a recovering expert of bad beats (even if they weren't). We get so emotionally attached to our runners and they run so infrequently, we can't help but get over the moon when they compete.  What we occasionally lose sight of is there is a finish line to determine the outcome. I know that this is somewhat cliche -- you can plug in your own. I always think of ESPN's Herman Edwards’ famous rant, "We play to win the game."  


Last Sunday Twilight Eclipse ran an incredible 2nd in the grade one United Nations at Monmouth. After the wire, "that guy" in me came out of a brief moment, thinking if Jose Lezcano could have gotten Twilight out a few jumps earlier, we get him his first grade one victory. After that brief relapse, I quickly remembered to appreciate how wonderful his effort was and how lucky we are to have such a tremendous racehorse.


With all this being said......Awesome Vision got hosed last week at the Finger Lakes. I'm still recovering :).

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RKaiser
Jul 15 2014 - 6:19pm
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102088
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/07/14/dont-be-that-guy-tom-bellhouse-on-taking-losses-in-stride
9 am on July 14, 2014

Are you “that guy”?  I used to be him.


You know him...He's your buddy, your fellow partner, or maybe even you.


He's the guy, who no matter the outcome of a race, can explain to you why his horse should have won and can detail the shortcomings of the ride, the break, the post, the track condition, the trip, and the distance.

TBellhouse
TBellhouse's picture
72

Miguel Clement is a rising star in the industry. The son of trainer Christophe Clement, Miguel is a Darley Flying Start program trainee whose American work placement is with West Point Thoroughbreds. He’ll be part of our team through the beginning of July, and we look forward to introducing him to Partners this weekend at Belmont Park. And yes, we still consider him a part of the team even if he roots for Tonalist (his dad’s horse) in the Belmont Stakes!


Miguel spent a few minutes this morning with Dallas Stewart, longtime WPT trainer and conditioner of Belmont Stakes contender and Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve. Here’s what Dallas had to say....

 

 

 

 

 

1)   Who is the greatest horse you have ever been around?

  • Commanding Curve – he has that potential.

2)   What is your favorite memory on the racetrack?

  • I fell in love with racing at the age of 14 with the match races at Louisiana.

3)   Trainers tend to be very superstitious; do you have any superstition of your own?

  • Not really, none to speak of.

4)   What are your hobbies outside work?

  • Probably watching my kids play soccer or boating.

5)   What time do you wake up and how many times do you hit the ‘snooze’ button?

  • I wake up at 4 a.m. and very rarely hit the snooze button.

6)   If you could be any celebrity or athlete, who would it be and why?

  • Drew Brees and Archie Manning.

7)   What is your favorite sport other than racing?

  • Football, always been a football fan.

8)   If you weren’t a trainer, what would be your profession?

  • Something that entails helping people and I enjoy working with kids – something like that.

9)   What is your favorite restaurant in Saratoga?

  • Spring Street Deli

10) I am going to say a few things, tell me the first thing that comes into your head:

A)   Commanding Curve – Wins on Saturday

B)   California Chrome – Great horse

C)   Jockeys – Tough job

D)   Photo finishes – Hopefully win them

E)   Mile and a half – Tough distance

Read/Write
EFinley
Jun 3 2014 - 11:45am
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101371
/news-and-blog/blog/2014/06/03/new-wpt-team-member-spends-a-few-minutes-with-dallas-stewart-before-the-belmont-stakes
11 am on June 03, 2014

Miguel Clement is a rising star in the industry. The son of trainer Christophe Clement, Miguel is a Darley Flying Start program trainee whose American work placement is with West Point Thoroughbreds. He’ll be part of our team through the beginning of July, and we look forward to introducing him to Partners this weekend at Belmont Park. And yes, we still consider him a part of the team even if he roots for Tonalist (his dad’s horse) in the Belmont Stakes!


Miguel spent a few minutes this morning with Dallas Stewart, longtime WPT trainer and conditioner of Belmont Stakes contender and Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve. Here’s what Dallas had to say....

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

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