05/8/12

KENTUCKY DERBY – WHOSE FAULT WAS IT?

Bodemeister would have won if…..

So, here we are three  days after theKentucky Derby.  Everyone is second guessing everyone else, except Bob Baffert, that is.  Whose fault was it? There are a gillion excuses for one horse or another not winning the roses.  It seems a large majority of people would have been ecstatic if Bodemeister had won.  It’s easiest to blame his exceptional 2nd place finish on Mike Smith for his ride.

I’ve never ridden a horse out of the starting gates, but I have handled a lot of race horses.  We feed them, give them all their vitamins, groom them, massage them, baby them, exercise them, school them in the paddock and the starting gates and do everything we can think of to get them on their toes for the big race.  They are like bomb with a lit fuse.

Day of the race arrives and this explosive 1100 pound animal is handed off to the jockey who is expected to keep him calm and relaxed throughout.  In the paddock, people surround this gorgeous animal like ants. He is saddled and the jockey is given a leg up.  The horse knows this is not just another day in his life as a race horse, but the jockey is now responsible for his behavior and performance.

Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert—yausser (Flickr.com)

Bob Baffert did a marvelous job of conditioning and training BodemeisterMike Smith is one of the nation’s top jockeys.  Bodemeister is a well bred, well conformed and a well behaved horse, but he has never set foot on a track in front of 165,000+ cheering people to run a 1 ¼ mile race.  Can you imagine what is going through this young horse’s mind?  Neither can I, but Mike Smith is supposed to be able to convince him it’s just another day at the race track.

Mike did an exceptional job of assuring his mount that all was well.  Bodemeister comported himself well in front of all the people, and in the starting gate.

When the gates opened and 19 other horses thundered out, Bodemeister was right there in front.  He is a horse that was born to outrun other horses and that’s all he was thinking about.

In my experience of running a lot of horse races across some pasture or down the country road on my kid horse, I always found that no horse wants another horse’s head in front.  Often times, it was impossible to hold them back.  Sure, I wasn’t a professional jockey, but I was a darn good rider.  During a race, the horse was zoned out on everything except getting his head in front of his challenger.

One of my gurus told me that trying to hold a horse, rate him if you will, is more fatiguing to the horse than letting him run.  This is because the horse is fighting the jockey all the way and uses more energy doing that than just running without interference.

Everyone knew when Trinniberg entered the Derby, the entire dynamics of the race would change.  Trinniberg  tried to go to the front when the gates opened.  Trinniberg is one of the few horses that had as much early speed as Bodemeister,  but he didn’t have enough speed to get his head in front.  Sadly, he just threw it out there and quit.  It was enough to cause Bodemeister to use more energy than necessary at the beginning of the race.

Wonder what the outcome would have been if Bodemeister had drawn the No. 19 Post Position?

That’s horse racing, folks!!

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04/24/12

Kentucky Derby Contenders…… Jockeys??

Do you ever wonder how important are the Jockeys?  What makes one jockey better than the other?

Kentucky Derby Contenders…. Jockeys??????  Let’s talk about it…

In my opinion, experience is at the top of the list. A jockey that has ridden many different horses with a high percentage of winners.

Jockeys are independent contractors who are employed by owners and/or trainers to ride their horses. In turn, the owners and/or trainers hire jockeys through the jockeys’ agents.

Soooo, the trainers usually want a jockey to, at least, breeze his horse once before the big race to see how the two get along.

The Kentucky Derby Contenders will have some of the top jockeys in the nation aboard for the Run For the Roses.

In the upcoming Kentucky Derby, there are two jockeys that have won the Run For the Roses three times.  Keith Desomeaux who will be aboard Dullahan in 2012 and Calvin Borel on Take Charge Indy.

Many jockeys ride “first call” for some trainers and/or owners.  This means those trainers and/or owners get first shot at a jockey’s trip aboard their horse for any given race.

The very top jockeys often can pick and choose the horses they want to ride and naturally it will appear that they have chosen the best.  Interesting, isn’t it?

All the picking and choosing is not over for this year’s Kentucky Derby.  There are several horses that are, either sharing the same rider, or a jockey has not yet been declared.

…and don’t forget, the final list of 20 horses to run in the 2012 Kentucky Derby has not been cast in stone.  Look for that to happen next week.  ……

What a year ….. and what a marvelous group of 3 year olds ….. this has been.

 

 

 

03/26/12

Bob Baffert has Heart Attack in Dubai..

Bob Baffert, trainer of Castaway the defeated favorite in Sunday’s $800,000 Sunland Derby is in Dubai for the running of Saturday’s $10 million, Dubai World Cup with Game On Dude.  Baffert suffered a heart attack early Monday morning.  Doctors in Dubai inserted 3 stents in clogged arteries.  Baffert should be released from the hospital on Thursday and will have to remain in Dubai for 8 to 10 days of recovery before being allowed to fly home.