Friday, February 4, 2011

Training when off Feed, and Winning

“He’ll push a horse to a level, and then hold it there until he adapts. It might be off in its food or have some filling in its legs, but he’ll just decide to keep it at that level. After another run or two it’ll suddenly start eating, or the filling will go down. Sometimes it doesn’t and he has to back right off or send it to the paddock, but he’s a genius at knowing which ones to push. He’s not often wrong. Tommy calls it the ‘sound barrier’. He pushed them and if they take it and eat up and go on, they’re the ones at might be champions. You can tell in June or July of their yearling year (which ends on Aug 1st in Australia). So they are not yet 2 year olds. If they go off their feed but do OK in a barrier trial, then they might be a useful horse. If they fall away, you might as well get rid of them.”

Quote from ‘Winning Trainers’ by Ross Staaden on TJ Smith, who won 33 consecutive training titles in Australia:

I will hold off on my opinion until a later date with a much more detailed post – but suffice it to say I don’t think there is one US based trainer who would continue training when a horse goes off his feed or gets filling in his legs, much less breeze 2-3x per week on a 2 year old. There is also not one US trainer who can boast 33 consecutive training titles. Sh!t, I have to add a disclaimer or I am going to get blasted with negative comments, so here goes:

*I understand that some horses can thrive under more work and some cannot. However, it seems the greatest trainer in Australian history saw fit to give each developing horse an intense workload similar to that recommended by Nunamaker at the New Bolton Center; , observe the results, and only then make a decision on whom to push forward with, and whom to back off on.

In contrast, many US based trainers don’t take that risk – they simply go easy on everyone, hence the common 1.5 mile gallops and 4F breezes every 7-10 days. What I often hear is that young horses are just not psychologically ready for that kind of regimen, but TJ Smith didn’t let that stop him. You can argue with my blog posts, but you can’t argue with his success. Triple Crown winners of the past breezed a mile between the Derby and Preakness, even when those 2 races were just a week apart! – This year, all will get 2 weeks off and the most anyone will do is a 4F cakewalk, many others will get nothing – and the streak will continue.


Donn Handicap Picks (in order): Morning Line, Rule, Giant Oak, I Want Revenge, Square Eddie, Fly Down, Ron the Greek, Eldaafer, Hear Ye Hear Ye. My first shot at handicapping a race based on my theories. We'll see what happens...most are conditioned the same, so it’s tough to find any perceived angles. If all goes well this weekend I will publish how I came up with this outcome, if not – well I’ll just refine my ‘system’ a bit and try again.

P.S. I don’t mean to overly criticize Uncle Mo and Todd Pletcher in earlier posts, but I have to use a current example in my comments. From those I know in the industry, they tell me that Mr. Pletcher is actually one of the most open-minded individuals when it comes to stuff like this. So, I will keep using him and his Derby hopefuls, hoping that one day he Googles himself, finds this blog, and gives me a shot at changing the way he looks at conditioning his fantastic stock. Uncle Mo is either the next Secretariat, or the next War Pass. We will soon have the answer, and I genuinely hope for the former for the sake of Mr. Repole, the connections, and the sport as a whole.

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