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Race horses today
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kimc911
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 Posted: Tue Jun 9th, 2015 05:52 am
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My brain is in overdrive with questions so this is for Dr. Deb concerning race horses today vs. those of years gone by.
It seems that the racehorses today or the majority cannot run without Lasix in their system including the new triple crown winner. (opinion on Lasix welcomed by all).

Yet in 1973 Secretariat would have beat American Pharoah by nearly 14 lengths at the Belmont under the same conditions and he was(per necropsy) without drugs. (lengths and time comparisons can be found in several articles on the web).

So is the TB speed in decline due to a closed registry and being so closely related in bloodlines to each other? Or was the size of Secretariats heart that made the difference at being 2.5 times larger than the average race horse?

Now I did like the way American Pharoah ran, as he has a nice steady stride, no wasted energy, he just seemed to enjoy the run.

My question to myself...Or is it even fair to compare the horses of different races; as the winner is just the fastest horse at the time on the track? My thoughts on the matter is yes it is fair to judge the horses to a fair scale comparison no matter when they raced.

Regards,
Kim

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 Posted: Wed Jun 10th, 2015 04:09 am
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I'd be interested in the rationale behind Lasix in racehorses. My day job is veterinary (primarily equine) anesthetist, and we only break out the Lasix for cases with congestive heart failure or pulmonary edema. Dries them out a bit. Will look it up as to mechanism of action and see if I can deduce its use in the racing industry. I suspect they believe it helps the airways in the running horse.

Kuhaylan Heify
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 Posted: Wed Jun 10th, 2015 10:28 am
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As I understand it it also acts as a diuretic- makes them pee a lot- may be even enough to cleanse their systems of whatever performance enhancing substances they've been given.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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 Posted: Wed Jun 10th, 2015 04:43 pm
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There are theories that Secretariat carried the large heart gene that goes back as far as Teddy, Phalaris, from a mare called Pocohontas.

American Pharoah also has bloodlines that go back to these horses through such greats as Secretariat, Raise a Native, etc. Very impressive bloodlines and AP could very well have inherited the large heart gene through these horses although studies seem to implicate that the large heart gene trickles down through the dam`s line, hence why the daughters of Secretariat (broodmare sire) produced the winners and sons of Secretariat were just so so. (I take a bit of an interest in this since I own a grandson of Raise A Native. My horse`s sire producing many 4 Star eventers competing at the Olympic level and many top International jumpers. Was the large heart gene passed on to these horses?)

It didn`t hurt AP that he is a "people" horse and has a calm and generous disposition. It seems like he doesn`t waste any energy fighting or fretting, all energy reserved for running. I don`t know if that was just the luck of the draw in regard to genetics or was that the foundation he was given by the first person( and thus so far) that handled him? Such study would be an interesting undertaking, for some of the horses in AP`s bloodlines have a reputation of being hot and difficult and he seems to not be.

Lasix, furosemide, is given to bleeders to keep them from bleeding while racing. Supposedly 90% of horses racing in America are given Lasix.

I surely would not be giving an eventer Lasix since electrolyte balance is so important in any long distance competition but that is another topic.

Kuhaylan Heify
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 Posted: Wed Jun 10th, 2015 06:52 pm
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yes, Penny Tweedy went on the Today show and explained to the viewers that Secretariats Dam Something Royal probably got her distance ability from Princequillo. So Thoroughbred breeders successful breeding pattern was to cross speed horses like Bold Ruler into a line with some distance ability like Princequillo. However such a pattern was far from certain. Much like Eygyptian arab breeders back breeding to Bint Samiha. To really bring out Kuhaylan biotype- large bone with a big hindend, Kheir like type, they needed to reinforce athletic ability with some lines to El Deree, Ibn Rabdan,Dawlat and Zaafarana(sp)
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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 Posted: Thu Jun 11th, 2015 01:32 am
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http://www.pedigreequery.com/american+pharoah

If you go farther back, such as clicking on Raise A Native`s pedigree and farther back even still, it is interesting to see how many times certain horses pop up over and over again. In other words, like many tbs today, not very diverse.

Just a side note, my Raise A Native grandson`s dam was not a tb but a Cheval.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jun 11th, 2015 05:22 am
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Has anybody on this Forum actually read my 5-part series on the history and bloodlines of the Thoroughbred horse, which has been published over the past 6 mos. in Equus magazine? You might find some answers (and other interesting things to ask questions about) in there. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Kuhaylan Heify
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 Posted: Thu Jun 11th, 2015 10:25 am
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Yup, the current issues piece with good analysis of breeding trends and clear conformational photos would make a useful reference work. Having read over your other breed
compilations one of the common threads is our human tendency to paint ourselves into a corner breed-wise.
So would the best way to fix that be to start outcrossing much the Europeans did in setting up their moden warmbloods?
best wishes
Bruce Peek

Aloha
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 Posted: Fri Jun 12th, 2015 02:27 am
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I don't watch racing anymore ever since Ruffian, but when I heard there was a tripple crown winner, I turned on for the re-run. Watched it twice. Having read Dr. Deb's Equus articles and digesting the information over time, what I took particular note of was that American Pharoah DID coil the loins, HUGELY. And his tempo was slower than the others. In other words he took less strides over the course than the others.
Some of them obviously ran crooked.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jun 12th, 2015 05:43 am
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Yes. The horse that uses his back well more than doubles his racing efficiency. The horse that tries to run crooked is like a train going forward with some of its wheels off the track.

My Equus editor has just asked me to contribute to a feature piece on American Pharoah, comparing him of course to past triple crown winners and other top performers from the flat track. But since all of the animals that ran in the Belmont are (I believe) descended from Phalaris, I also asked her to supply me with conformation photos for analysis -- not just of American Pharaoh but of every horse in the race. This makes a nice test of "nature vs. nurture", i.e. the great influence that training has (i.e. teaching the horse to use itself correctly) on producing a winner in a field of horses that are otherwise essentially clones. -- Dr. Deb

Kuhaylan Heify
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 Posted: Fri Jun 12th, 2015 10:29 am
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So using his back well and having a more efficient form and stride explains why American Pharoah still was able to accelerate in the last quarter of a mile. His final quarter was 24.32 seconds while Secratariats final quarter was 25 flat.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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 Posted: Fri Jun 12th, 2015 10:15 pm
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I`ll be re-subscribing to Equus to catch up on your tb series and your new article on American Pharoah.

Sounds like some GREAT reading.

Looking forward to it.

Thanks for all that you do to educate.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 13th, 2015 05:06 am
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No, Bruce, just the opposite: what you're pointing out is exactly the difference between 'nature' vs. 'nurture', i.e. the genetics shared, or largely shared, by all the horses in this year's Belmont, vs. training. Note that the genetics of this year's Belomont runners is shared ALSO by Secretariat, who likewise descends from the horse Phalaris. So genetically, they are all very much alike, essentially all half-sisters and half-brothers or even more closely related than that; and yet out of the crowd you get only two who prove themselves to be noticeably more capable.

Secretariat was the straightest-running horse I ever saw among flattrack racers. I have not been able to view the relevant footage of A.P., and it will be interesting to see that. I did see a photo of him, taken straight from the front, at the end of a breeze prior to the Belmont; and in that photo, he is not running square to himself. However, this can happen with fatigue and may not be characteristic of his running style at the beginning of the race or during the adrenalin rush which is the race itself.

Above I have equated 'nurture' with 'training' and this is not the whole story, either; because I highly doubt that any trainer TAUGHT Secretariat to run square to himself. I believe that the horse discovered this on his own, and stuck with it because it is indeed the most comfortable way to run as well as the most efficient.

On the other hand, it MAY have been the case that A.P.'s trainers were able to take advantage of our advice. There is some evidence -- my editor and I at Equus were just remarking on this the other day -- that various sportswriters, i.e. the guy at the Chicago Tribune for example whose column I happened to read the day after the Belmont because I'm here in Chicago this week for research at the Field Museum. So I'm sitting there eating my Panda Express dinner and reading this column, and lo and behold the phraseology, while not going so far as to be plagiaristic, echoed a good deal of exactly what I said in my last TB installment that came out before the Belmont, and I do believe from this that the sportswriter in question had used our articles in Equus for background information. He even went so far as to cheer the plan that is being noised about, NOT to retire AP immediately to stud, but rather to let him have a real career spanning five or six years, as used to be the norm in the days when fans turned out by the thousands, filling the stands at the tracks, just for the chance to see (and cast a bet perhaps) toward their equine hero, whether that was Phar Lap in Australia or Man O'War or Kelso or Citation or John Henry or Seabiscuit in America.

If this is the case it is possible that the people responsible for training AP have also, at least sometimes, paid attention to things I have been saying in Equus Magazine for better than thirty years, among which we include the importance of the horse coiling its loins to produce speed, and the crucial importance of its running straight. Maybe they have been among those who downloaded the "Lessons from Woody" .pdf from our "Knowledge Base" section -- and were able to put it to practical, yes indeed VERY practical, use. It would be good to think that it may be so.

ONe reason it would be good to think so, is that I am not the first person to give this advice. Over 250 years ago, Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere said in the flat-racing appendix to his book "Ecole de Cavalerie" (I translate colloquially): "Yeah, it would sure help those flat track guys if they understood a few of these things."

Cheerio -- Dr. Deb

 

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 Posted: Sat Jun 13th, 2015 06:49 am
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Dr. Deb,

With a little reading that I did about AP, it appears that he was a bit troublesome as a very young horse, not showing the kind nature that he exhibits recently. An article refered that "some work in the paddock helped to calm him."

It might be interesting to find out what kind of "work" they did with him in the paddock and if they followed some of your teachings there also for it might be possible that some of the "work" they did with him might have been the "groundwork" of good horsemanship that you teach here and refer to in many articles.

Straightness can come when a horse lets go of his defenses; a brace. The horse I saw on the Today Show interview with his trainer sitting next to him in a chair was a horse that was mostly content with his world. AP`s trainer refers to him being not like most tbs in that he is not a worrier and seems to take everything, (excuse the pun), in stride.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 13th, 2015 09:43 am
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Yes, I can't agree more. If they learned proper ground work from Buck Brannaman or from Ray Hunt it would be worth a million bucks. It's worth a "million bucks" to us, too, of course, but in the flat track world it's a million bucks literally. Why don't more racehorse trainers cotton on to this? I believe that it is because they're mixed up about what it takes within a horse to make that horse a winner. Not a few students who have come to horsemanship clinics over the years hear what I or Harry or Buck or Josh or Melanie or any of our other top practitioners saying, which is essentially, that the horse must have equanimity within or be "100% OK on the inside" in order to perform his best. But because some people who hear that come from pretty troubled backgrounds themselves, they are mixed up about how important this is and what it means. They think: to win there has to be a "big try" and to them the big try equates to a certain amount of angst and tension. Therefore they say to us: "OK, I hear what you're saying about the horse being 100% OK. But that's only for 'pleasure' horses or horses for amateurs or little old ladies. What I've got is a competitor; I want this horse to be competitive, so I only want him to be about 65% OK on the inside." Or you go pick the number!

These folks just do not have the resources -- they have never themselves had the experience -- of complete inner peace, and this prevents them from being able to imagine what that is worth. The brace on the inside is the brace on the outside. When the brace on the inside is gone, when the horse does what Ray Hunt used to call "turning loose" -- when he turns loose completely to the human and to the situation and life in general -- then he quits looking for something to get bothered about, and every muscle, bone, tendon and joint starts being able to work with maximum power and efficiency.  -- Dr. Deb

 


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