Facebook Connect

«Back

West Point’s newest feature tracks members of the West Point team through their description of an ordinary - or not so ordinary - “Day in the Life.” This month, trainer Dale “Big D” Romans takes us through his Wednesday, September 14th in Louisville, Lexington, and places in-between.  

A Day in the Life: Dale “Big D” Romans
 
LEXINGTON, KY, Keeneland Sales Pavilion, 5:30 p.m. - Why don’t we start with last night, Tuesday. I got back from the sale at 9:30 p.m. and watched some TV. I don’t even remember what I watched because I had been at the sale all day and I was tired. I went to bed at 11:00 p.m.

This morning, I knew it was going to be a very long day because of the sale, so I got up around 7:00 a.m. I’m not an early riser, I don’t get to the barn at 5:00 a.m. like Pletcher and some of those guys; I learned long ago that I can’t do that and work all day.

I live in Louisville; it takes me 10 minutes to get to the barn. I got there around 7:30 a.m. The first thing I always do is have a little meeting with my assistant, then I go over the set list and assign exercise riders to the particular horses. My wife, Tammy Fox, gets to pick whoever she wants to ride.

I went over everything to see if there were any problems, decided who to breeze and gallop, got all of the breezers out, watched all of the horses I wanted to make sure were safe. Shackleford galloped, CS Silk worked, Frank Jones came to the barn and we had a short meeting about where some of his horses were going to run and what I was looking at at the sale, a few horses I thought he should get involved in if it all worked out.

Next I swung by my good friend Doctor Shea’s office to have my foot injected. He came out of surgery and blocked my ankle and foot so I could make it through the rest of the sale, which I absolutely needed, that’s for sure. I left there and drove to the sale. It’s about an hour and fifteen minute drive in my Lexus, which does not have tinted windows.
 
While I was driving, I talked to Scott Everett at the barn in New York about the breezers we had there this morning. I talked to Jerry Crawford about the vet reports of horses we were going to bid on. I got list of horses from Jeff Lifson to look at for West Point.

I got to the sale, went through and did final checks on about 10 horses, got the final vet reports, saw some I really liked, bid on a few, bought one colt - hip #722 - for $320,000, and had a chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream cone to celebrate.

The day was also sprinkled with about 10 different conversations with my son, Jake. He advises me how to conduct my business. This is unsolicited, of course. Every time I mention school, he says ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ve got that covered.’ But he tells me where to run my horses.

Tonight we’re going to dinner at Kerry and Julie Cauthen’s house; Tammy’s coming over to meet me and we’re staying in Lexington tonight to work a horse at Keeneland and see if he likes Polytrack so we can decide whether to run him in the futurity or not. Tomorrow, we’ll do the same thing all over again.


7
Disabled
Joy (not verified)
Oct 28 2011 - 11:02am
view
86903
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/10/19/a-day-in-the-life-of-preakness-winning-trainer-dale-romans
3 pm on October 19, 2011

West Point’s newest feature tracks members of the West Point team through their description of an ordinary - or not so ordinary - “Day in the Life.” This month, trainer Dale “Big D” Romans takes us through his Wednesday, September 14th in Louisville, Lexington, and places in-between.  

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

DUBLIN, IRELAND - We finished up with two purchases Tuesday at the sale. In addition to the filly, bought a nice colt by Shirocco at the end of day one for 35,000 Euros. Solid and athletic, this dude is out of a Fusaichi Pegasus Mare.

Click here to see his pedigree. Shirocco won the Breeder's Cup Turf in 2004 and was named champion 3-year-old colt in both Italy and Germany that same year.

 


Thursday morning our yearlings will begin a long journey to the U.S. and Camden, South Carolina. They'll move by van to the coast where they'll load on the ferry to cross the English Channel. From there, it will be a five hour van ride to Newmarket, England. Around October 10, they'll fly to Lexington, Kentucky with a large group of yearlings returning to the states. After a day of rest, it's onto Kip Elser's training center in Camden, South Carolina.

One interesting and productive thing they do at Irish Sales is wind testing. For a small fee, buyers can have  a licensed veterinarian listen and observe the horses during and after a period of strenuous work (usually cantering for four to five minutes in an enclosed round pen).  

The wind test identifies horses that may be predisposed to breathing problems later in their careers. About 97% of the horses pass with flying colors but it certainly helps buyers when the other 3% are identified.

We took a video of the Shirocco colt being windtested this morning. Take a look.
 

 
Terry
 
Click here to read the rest of Terry's Ireland blog. 
Read/Write
tfinley
Sep 29 2011 - 9:25am
view
86504
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/29/leaving-ireland-with-two-very-nice-horses
9 am on September 29, 2011

DUBLIN, IRELAND - We finished up with two purchases Tuesday at the sale. In addition to the filly, bought a nice colt by Shirocco at the end of day one for 35,000 Euros. Solid and athletic, this dude is out of a Fusaichi Pegasus Mare.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

DUBLIN, IRELAND - I worked hard yesterday at the sale, coming up with a shortlist. We ended up vetting fifteen horses for today’s session and already picked one up this morning.

Hip 92 is a really strapping hussy with a rough, tough attitude. She’s by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Footstepsinthesand, with a deep pedigree. We paid 130,000 euros for her, about $170,000. Prices were very soft this morning as the sale got underway, so that amount indicates significant interest in a quality individual. We were lucky to walk away with her.
 

 
 
Footstepsinthesand before his victory in the Grade 1 2000 Guineas:

 
I went to a function last night at The K Club, a phenomenal five-star luxury resort that hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup. On the way there I had a chance to stop by a Ladbrooke betting shop to put 60 euros on Quiet All American at Parx. Nice frontrunning score from our Forest Camp gelding.  Below is a photo of me in front of a bookmakers desk after purchasing a winning ticket:
 
 
Many of the buyers and sellers here are set to move on to Paris for the Arc de Triomphe this weekend. It's France's version of the Kentucky Derby. Have to put the Arc on the bucket list.  

Will send updates as the auction continues. You can follow the progress of the sale here.

Cheers!
Terry

 

2
Read/Write
Anonymous
Sep 29 2011 - 12:40pm
view
86488
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/27/ireland-day-2-wpt-purchases-a-filly-at-goffs
1 pm on September 27, 2011

DUBLIN, IRELAND - I worked hard yesterday at the sale, coming up with a shortlist. We ended up vetting fifteen horses for today’s session and already picked one up this morning.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

DUBLIN, IRELAND - I flew into Dublin this morning after flights from South Bend to Chicago and Chicago to Charlotte on Sunday.


There’s definitely a different feel to Ireland this year compared to the last time I came to the Goffs sale in 2009. Even the cab driver opined on the origins and future of Ireland's economic woes. We talked about the Ireland of 2002-2008 as being the “Celtic Tiger,” a term they use over there. He said "We’re still the Celtic Tiger, but our tail isn't wagging any longer."

I thought that was funny - sad but true.

This morning, I’m going to Goffs to inspect horses for the sale that starts tomorrow and runs through Friday. I’ll be looking for the same type of horses we look for here, but in some ways it’s more like looking for treasure, because as I wrote before, these yearlings can be diamonds in the rough. In other ways, you go in with more confidence, knowing these horses were bred to run, not with commercial success in mind as the final goal.

It sure would be nice if more American breeders bred horse horses to be good racehorses instead of good "sales" horses.  

If there’s a better place on earth to raise a racehorse than Ireland, I don’t know where it is. Hopefully I can find a few nice ones for the West Point team within the coming days.

Le gach dea ghui,
(“With every good wish”)

 
Terry
1
Read/Write
marmar60
Sep 27 2011 - 1:28pm
view
86477
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/26/day-1-in-ireland
8 pm on September 26, 2011

DUBLIN, IRELAND - I flew into Dublin this morning after flights from So

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

There’s an old Irish proverb that says “Sell the cow, sell the sheep, but never be without the horse.” I heartily concur, although I’d probably amend thousands of years of tradition to say “never be without a good racehorse.” Fortunately a large portion of Ireland would agree with me on that one.


I’m heading to the Emerald Isle this weekend. Two years ago, we picked up three year ings from Goff’s (photo of their sales ring at right) and brought them back to the U.S. to run. This year, we’re exploring the possibility of keeping a runner or two there to break, train, and run - maybe with Aiden O’Brien, who is basically the Irish version of Todd Pletcher, or with a few other trainers I have in mind.
  
The exchange rate has swung 30 percent in our favor since we were there last time, so that should really help us in making our purchases. One of the things we know about Irish racing specifically is that it has taken some hard hits and as a result, a lot of people have gotten out of the business. The industry in Ireland is in much worse shape than it is here in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the quality of their stock has diminished. We just see it as a good opportunity to get our hands on some very nice horses from a slightly out-of-the-box source.

It goes without saying that they produce good, sound horses over there - hearty stock. Young horses are raised differently than they are here, and that’s one of the things that’s been very attractive to us. A lot of the sellers are Irish farmers that just have these yearlings out in the back pen at home, so you have to recalibrate your eyes and know you’re not going to see the finished product like you would in Book One at Keeneland. It’s kind of like looking for a diamond in the rough.

Having just finished up at a highly-competitive edition of the Keeneland September Sale, it’ll be a change of pace to shop the Irish market. There aren’t as many horses cataloged and it doesn’t really attract the masses of people from all over the world that Keeneland does, so you’re not fighting against as many buyers.

We know some of our investors have expressed an interest in these kinds of horses, and incorporating a few business trips to Ireland as part of the racehorse ownership deal will definitely be an added plus. There’s also nothing to keep us from moving a horse to the U.S. if it does well over there, but I think this opportunity to have a few runners competing in that country holds great potential.

The nice thing about Ireland is that it’s all about the horse over there. There’s no doubt horses and racing are really woven into the fabric of their society. I’m looking forward to being back.

On Saturday I’ll be in South Bend to watch my son Ryan’s Notre Dame soccer game, then I leave for Ireland on Sunday, arriving Monday morning. I come back Thursday and will be looking forward to running Sunrise Smarty in the Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. Meanwhile, the team is hard at work getting the details together for new partnerships on all the September purchases. It’s a busy week ahead.

See you at the races!
Terry
2
Disabled
KByrne
Sep 23 2011 - 4:17pm
view
86443
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/23/headed-to-the-emerald-isle-this-weekend
2 pm on September 23, 2011

There’s an old Irish proverb that says “Sell the cow, sell the sheep, but never be without the horse.” I heartily concur, although I’d probably amend thousands of years of tradition to say “never be without a good racehorse.” Fortunately a large portion of Ireland would agree with me on that one.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

EVP Jeff Lifson will be sharing his thoughts from the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale as he seeks to acquire a racehorse to run under the black and gold.

 

Monday, September 19th

We found him. After a long search, Hip 2156 will race under the black and gold silks. A beautiful chestnut son of freshman sire and multiple grade 1 winner Any Given Saturday. l think it was meant to be. It was pouring down rain this morning and Erin Finley and I were out at Taylor Made looking for some prospects after being outbid numerous times last week. We're tough critics when it comes to physical specimens. Erin looked over at me and said, "Whose that?" I said, "I don't know, but we better find out."

 

Even though it was pouring, he was a cool dude when they brought him out to show us. Flashy, athletic, and racy. I like horses that make a good first impression and had a sneaky good feeling the moment I saw this colt. So we vetted him and everything checked out perfectly. We headed to the back ring with Dale Romans a few hips before he sold and Big D gave us two thumbs up. He then looked at the catalogue and said, "I had his half brother...he won almost $500k." Right then and there I knew we had a good horse. I could only hope he didn't bring too much. In he went. I immediately became engaged in the bidding. It stopped at 50k and we got him. I'm so excited and really, really like this colt. More to come, but here's a picture of him:

 

 

 

Thursday, September 15th

Took a swing on a few yesterday, with no luck. I guess we just have some really nice horses on our list....the same horses that everybody else wants to take home. It's been great looking at hundreds over horses over the past several days. I've learned quite a bit and have identified some true athletes. Really liked a Henny Hughes filly and a Street Boss colt yesterday, but they both sold for a little higher than I needed them too. I'm off to Canada tonight to see Quality Lass kick some butt in the Natalma Stakes tomorrow at Woodbine. Erin is shortlisting for me on Sunday, and I'll be back to Keeneland on Monday to try and add the next runner to the stable. Talk to you then. 

 

Wednesday, September 14th

Well.....tried on a few horses today. I really loved a Henrythenavigator filly late in the sale, and thought we had a good chance to get our hands on her, but she went for well over $200k. Erin liked the last horse through the ring today, but he too went for over $200k. Back to the drawing board. Gave Doc several horses to vet for tomorrow. There is one chestnut colt in particular that I'd love to see in the black and gold. Erin and I will head out with Dale tomorrow morning to see if there any last minute additions to our list of possible purchases. Tomorrow is the day. I feel confident that we'll purchase another WPT runner out of this session. Talk to you tomorrow. 

 

Tuesday Afternoon, September 13th

Terry bought a lovely Tale of the Cat colt in today's session. He is a full brother to Lion Heart, and very, very racy. I like him. As for my buying adventures, we took a swing at three horses today, knowing they were probably going to be a little bit out of my price range. We liked 219, 279, and 450. Three very nice colts, but there are still so many nice horses left in the sale. Erin Finley and Rob Masiello did some short listing for me this afternoon and we have ten horses to get vetted that are slated to sell on Wednesday and Thursday. There are a couple of very nices horses toward the end of the sale over the next few days that are intriguing. We'll head out with Dale Romans tomorrow morning and have him take a look over our short list before heading to the ring tomorrow. I feel confident we'll acquire the next black and gold bearer over the next two days. More to come. 

West Point Thoroughbreds EVP Jeff Lifson

 

Tuesday Morning, September 13th

Day three of the sale is about an hour away. Last night Terry did some serious damage buying two high six figure fillies, one by 2 time Horse of the Year Curlin and the other by Distorted Humor. My aspirations are more beer budget today...we will start bidding early and have three colts and a filly to swing at today...one out of a mare that has some incredible star power on her father's side of the family...stay tuned!

 

 

Monday September 12

Didn’t bring home hip number 74 last night, a son of Henrythenavigator and a half brother to Smarty Jones, an elegant, racy looking dude. Terry Finley, Dale, Erin, and partners Rob Masiello and Sandy Miller sat with me and cheered me on... even the auctioneer team got into it. My old friend Chris Caldwell was on the podium and gave me some good natured ribbing when I stopped at 160 thousand. Many thanks for all the encouraging texts during this adventure. We are back bidding tomorrow.

 

Sunday September 11

An hour before the sale at Keeneland begins and the sales pavilion is buzzing with electricity. We rechecked our first day horses, went over the vet reports and will be bidding on one colt late in the sale tonight. With his kind of pedigree, its a longshot we get him, but I am pumped to be raising my bidding finger this evening. Its a colt Dale Romans looked at with us this afternoon, Dale thinks he is a runner.

 

Thursday, September 8

First day of the sale for me and its really quiet. I was here a bit early - most outfits will begin showing later this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I did look over a pretty colt by Henrythenavigator who checks out nicely at first blush, he stays on my list.

1
Read only
lookinat12 (not verified)
Sep 19 2011 - 9:11pm
view
86246
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/19/jeff-lifson-purchases-hip-1256-at-keeneland-for-wpt
9 am on September 19, 2011

EVP Jeff Lifson will be sharing his thoughts from the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale as he seeks to acquire a racehorse to run un

JLifson
JLifson's picture
8909

LEXINGTON, KY - After we headed down to the barn to snap some pictures on Wednesday, our three yearling purchases from the Keeneland September Sale were shipped off to a new phase of life.

The Curlin filly and her Distorted Humor contemporary headed down Versailles Road around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning on a Brookledge van along with the colt by Tale of the Cat. It was an uneventful trip from here to Knoxville, Tennessee, then over the mountain to Ashville, North Carolina. From there they went on to their final destination of Camden, South Carolina, where they were bedded down at Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Farm by 3:30 p.m.
 
We’re making some changes this season with our yearlings. Instead of heading to Ocala, they’ll get their foundational training at Kirkwood. Camden has a long legacy of Thoroughbred success, and so does Kip, the newest member of our training team. We gave him a couple of layups as a kind of test drive late last year and he did a great job - in fact, the test drive turned out to be as smooth as a Maserati.    

After spending the past few weeks on the hectic sales scene getting groomed and pulled in and out of their stalls to be viewed by potential buyers, the upcoming days will be a relief for our yearlings as they settle down in their new home. But the three compadres won’t get too much downtime; by the end of the week they’ll be introduced to tack, starting an education that will carry over through the winter months until they head to trainers in the spring.
Read/Write
tfinley
Sep 16 2011 - 4:25pm
view
86326
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/16/a-new-phase-for-the-yearlings-and-driving-a-maserati
4 pm on September 16, 2011

LEXINGTON, KY - After we headed down to the barn to snap some pictures on Wednesday, our three yearling purchases from the Keeneland September Sale were shipped off to a new phase of life.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

We’re coming into a new season in the Thoroughbred world as the main summer meets have wound down and our focus shifts to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.


It’s a busy time of year for us as our team flies to Lexington. We look at a lot of young horses, and our bloodstock agents have already been going to the farms and picking prospects for us to focus on when the sale gets started. Traditionally, we haven’t bought many horses out of this sale, but Justwhistledixie was a success for us and we have an eye on several this season, scouting out the best athletes for our class of 2012. It’s exciting because of the limitless potential, and also because the horses we buy wind up equalling opportunities for existing and new partners.
 
Let’s face it, partnerships aren’t for everybody - and here at West Point, we’re not the only ones who hear about that. Ask any of the other major partnership groups in racing; their principals will tell you, some people aren’t cut out to share the experience or make an investment over which they have little managerial control.

On the other hand, a partnership with West Point is a lifestyle experience, and it can put you in a situation that could change your life. Take Awesome Gem for instance. Nearing the $3 million mark in earnings, he’s taken 10 partners on the ride of their lives (and partners, your distribution check from the Longacres Mile is in the mail).

I love the comment Scott Cadwallader posted on his Facebook wall after Gem’s recent win: "An amazing day with Awesome Gem winning the Longacres Mile (G3)! The longer he completes at this level, the more I'm learning to appreciate what a truly special horse he is, and how blessed I've been to be one of the partners who own this incredible animal. He continues to take us on the ride of a lifetime and provides one thrill after another."

Sure, you could go out on your own instead, find a trainer, buy a horse, get lucky. Plenty of people have done it that way. But what we offer is a chance to diversify your investment and minimize risk while benefiting from a team of experts who will campaign your runner to the best of their ability. You pay markup costs and a management fee for that expertise, for a group of people who want to get into the winner’s circle as much as you do and are pooling all of their knowledge and resources to give your horse the best shot at making that happen. You’re working with a team with access to the best in the industry- vets, trainers, bloodstock agents, etc. You can become immediately immersed in the elite levels of this sport without having to work your way up.

It isn’t easy to make it in this game. Sometimes we hit a period where things just don’t go our way, horses get injured, and the photo finishes aren’t in our favor. It’s hard to remember that things like that happen to everyone, partnership or no partnership, across the board. How many times do you see a $2 million yearling purchase starting as a 4-year-old, or winding up on the shelf after a few starts in his 2-year-old year? Horses getting hurt, horses not working out, everybody deals with that, and that’s what makes the victories so much sweeter.

Something that always stuck with me- someone said to me, “Man, you would have thought you guys just won the Kentucky Derby,” after Montana Knight won a 25k non winners of two claimer last year at Saratoga. You should have seen the group of WPT cheering emphatically like we really had just won the Derby.

And that’s what we’re all about, that’s what gets people involved in this game. Between both coasts this summer we’ve had over 100 partners in town to see their horses run, to come and experience the magic of a morning on the backside. It’s truly amazing what being in a partnership can do for somebody - it brings people together, and whether you’re a 5% owner or a 30% owner, we all stand in the winner’s circle together.

See You At The Races!
Terry
2
Read/Write
marmar60
Sep 8 2011 - 9:30pm
view
86153
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/09/07/summer-meets-wrap-up-why-partnerships-are-ideal-for-some-investors
12 pm on September 07, 2011

We’re coming into a new season in the Thoroughbred world as the main summer meets have wound down and our focus shifts to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.


It’s a busy time of year for us as our team flies to Lexington. We look at a lot of young horses, and our bloodstock agents have already been going to the farms and picking prospects for us to focus on when the sale gets started. Traditionally, we haven’t bought many horses out of this sale, but Justwhistledixie was a success for us and we have an eye on several this season, scouting out the best athletes for our class of 2012. It’s exciting because of the limitless potential, and also because the horses we buy wind up equalling opportunities for existing and new partners.
tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

It was a tough opening weekend for West Point at the Spa. We enjoyed Friday, which was opening day, and were in high anticipation of the weekend. Tom Albertrani told me three or four times how good Dominant Jeannes was training, and we’d given him plenty of time since his last race at Belmont Park at the beginning of June. He seems to have found a new home on the turf, so everyone was excited to see him run Saturday.

Unfortunately, Ramon Dominguez didn’t like the way the horse was warming up before his race. There wasn’t anything serious or one thing in particular, but Ramon just had an uneasy feeling about the way he felt and the track vet left it up to him whether he wanted to scratch or run. Ramon made the judgment call that he wanted to scratch, and we’re fine with that decision.

When you get top riders on your horses, this is one of the things you pay for. It’s good. A lot of owners, I think, take offense or get upset and just kind of wonder if it was a good call or not. Really, I know Ramon wants to win just as much as I do, and I’m glad he went with his gut and decided not to run. We probably would have been alright, a non-threatening fourth or fifth, but then we’d have had to wait four or five weeks before he ran back. Instead, he took one day off and was back to the track on Monday, bright and chipper and moving 100 percent. It probably was the heat that bothered him, so we’ll find a spot for him to run back on another day in a couple weeks – he has to work once for the state vet to get the approval to run.    

A few of our fillies ran into some issues as well; Moonstruck Maya had some filling up front so she scratched out of a race on the West Coast, and Itsmyhonor, a filly who should have been even money on Monday here in the first, had a foot issue that popped up after she worked on Sunday. She went about a quarter mile and rolled right down the backside, she looked great and acted fine but Sunday afternoon when they took her out to jog her, she came up with a foot bruise. She should recover from that pretty quickly, knock on wood, and we’re looking at a race for her on Aug. 6. Also on Monday, Hey Hey Mama scratched out of the turf race she’d been entered in - thanks to the downpours in the area, the race came off the turf but we were not going to run her on the main track, so we’ll regroup with her as well.

Hopefully we’re building up some good luck after this early run of luck that’s been not-so-good. We have several pointing for races over the next week, and we run a bunch next weekend including some of our promising 2-year-old starters. Flashy In Pink is getting ready to debut for Todd Pletcher on Aug. 4, and Shesaflashymiss is pointing toward a race on Aug. 7.

Overall, it seems like the crowds here have been pretty good, the handle has been very good, and that’s all positive. I think people always are happy and excited to start the meet up at Saratoga. We have a lot of clients in and a lot of prospects, so that’s what we’ve been really paying attention to.

This is the one time each year that we get to spend so much time around the horses. It’s great for us, it’s great for the clients, and I’ve been around three people in the past four days who have made their first trip to Saratoga. It’s exciting to witness the enthusiasm people display when they watch morning workouts or sit in the boxes for the first time. That’s part of what keeps everyone coming back, and it’s definitely what keeps us in the business.

See you at the races!
Terry
3
Read/Write
NReagan
Jul 29 2011 - 5:08pm
view
85404
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/07/28/looking-ahead-to-the-future
4 pm on July 28, 2011

It was a tough opening weekend for West Point at the Spa. We enjoyed Friday, which was opening day, and were in high anticipation of the weekend. Tom Albertrani told me three or four times how good Dominant Jeannes was training, and we’d given him plenty of time since his last race at Belmont Park at the beginning of June. He seems to have found a new home on the turf, so everyone was excited to see him run Saturday.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

Last Thursday, the Breeders’ Cup made headlines by announcing a directive that will lead to the ban of all race day medications at the event by 2013. As a start, horses entered in the five Breeders’ Cup races for juveniles in 2012 will be prohibited from using Lasix, the anti-bleeder diuretic, on race day - and by 2012, all race day drugs will be banned from the Breeders’ Cup.  

When you think about the fact that last year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs featured all but five of 163 horses running on Lasix, that’s a pretty drastic policy change. As a member of the Breeders’ Cup board, I can tell you this step was not taken lightly. We all understand that the use of race day medication isn’t a black and white issue - if it were, the clear-cut decision would be a lot easier. But it’s time to stop kicking the can down the road, so to speak. Action needed to be taken, because we’ve certainly had enough studies and debates.

I think this directive is a great start in evaluating what needs to be done on an industry-wide basis. Up until now, the proponents of race day medication have had kind of an inherent advantage because all they would say is ‘Let’s study it, let’s study it, you know what, we’ve been studying...’ but what do you study and how can you get results if you’re not actually running these horses without the medication? Sure, you can point to studies that have shown the drug is effective in treating bleeding, but what about other studies that have clearly shown it can act as a performance enhancer because horses who are administered Lasix on race day tend to outperform horses who don’t receive it? If you’re not an advocate of banning race day meds, just say that, don’t say you want more studies - because no matter which study comes out or what it finds, you’re going to support it or not support it in a way that represents your outlook.

I believe we’ve been open-minded about people’s concerns and questions, but at a certain point you have to say, ‘Let’s get this process started.’ This is the most action that’s been taken by any North American racing organization in an effort to reduce the use of race day medication. It isn’t a theoretical study done by scientists in a lab, this is the real world. If you have a horse you think is going to be Breeders’ Cup material with a potential to run in the Juvenile, the Juvenile Fillies, the Juvenile Turf, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, or the Juvenile Sprint, you have enough of a heads up before 2012 knowing that you’re not going to be able to give them a shot of Lasix the morning of the race. If you don’t like it, don’t enter.

What this really boils down to is a leadership issue. If you look at the other entities in the business - the Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association, the NTRA - nobody was really in the position to stand up and lead from the front. And as they stay in the military: lead, follow, or get hell out of the way. You’ve got to give props to the Breeders’ Cup because at least the board members had enough gumption to say. ‘Look, we’re going to stand up and do something different.’ They knew it was going to be unpopular and it has been, but just like in 2007 when an out-of-competition drug-testing program was put in place, or as in 2008 when the non-therapeutic use of anabolic steroids was banned, they realized it was a necessary step to take.

The racing business compares to major league baseball in this situation. Five years ago, everybody knew MLB was a dirty game and the juice guys were hitting all the best home runs. One of the speakers at the race day medication summit at Belmont Park last month was Rob Manfred, Jr., the Executive Vice President for the MLB. He was brought in to discuss his experiences regarding performance enhancing drugs and drug testing in his sport, and he helped design and execute the new drug program for major league baseball. He said, “Before it all came together, I thought the game was headed down a bad path. I thought we were going to lose our home run hitters and our fan base, but it couldn’t have come about any different. Now the game is more popular than it’s ever been, with crowds at record heights, and yeah, you’re not getting as many of those insane home runs, but everybody looks at baseball and the players in different light, and no doubt that’s helped the overall resurgence of baseball.”

We’ve got to bounce back. Our business has really struggled in the past, especially in the last 36 months or so. Who knows, maybe this is a shot in the arm that could really help us.

What would a complete elimination of race day medication mean for our West Point Partners? One of the things it could hurt is our average number of starts, because a lot of trainers who are advocates of keeping Lasix are saying they’ll face a longer recovery period coming out of the races as they deal with concerns over respiratory illnesses and the after-affects of horses bleeding when they run. Those are issues we’ll have to address, but I really struggle with trainers and proponents of raceday medication who talk about how it’s inhumane to run horses without Lasix here. I understand that respiratory issues and pulmonary bleeding are serious challenges to overcome, but I don’t think the argument holds up that it’s inhumane to run without the drug when every other country in the world except Canada successfully does so. Does that make every other country in the world inhumane in their treatment of racehorses? Obviously not. If a horse bleeds and needs recovery time, he needs to get it. If he can’t race without bleeding severely, the question comes up about whether he should be running at all.

For the time being, this doesn’t immediately affect our runners. The rules still allow Lasix and in order to compete on an even playing field our trainers will administer it to our horses as they see fit. But industry-wide, if the day comes when a race day medication ban is in place, we’ll be happy to comply.

I think this well help our business and it will be a good start toward bringing health back to the industry and the breed. From a public relations standpoint, the fact that we are taking action on this matter will be a big plus. To me, it’s very exciting.

See you at the races!
Terry  
 
4
Read only
patrick
Jul 26 2011 - 4:55pm
view
85263
/news-and-blog/blog/2011/07/21/thoughts-on-the-industrys-medication-issue
4 pm on July 21, 2011

Last Thursday, the Breeders’ Cup made headlines by announcing a directive that will lead to the ban of all race day medications at the event by 2013. As a start, horses entered in the five Breeders’ Cup races for juveniles in 2012 will be prohibited from using Lasix, the anti-bleeder diuretic, on race day - and by 2012, all race day drugs will be banned from the Breeders’ Cup.  

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

«Back