Saturday, December 09, 2006

Owning a horse is serious business, Don't gamble him away.

Trainers and owners can experience failure resulting from greed like the gambler placing his bets at the window. The owner must approach the racing from a business perspective. The gambler that turns into an owner has a hard time making the transition and will surely lose if he does not realize that a change in strategy must be made. Trainers must know what they have in the barn and what each animal is capable of. If a trainer continues to stretch the horse beyond it's capabilities, then the horse may sour and actually will learn to lose. A horse that continues to pass the wire behind horses without consequence will most likely learn that this is what he is supposed to do. Remember, he does not know what winning is. He does not know the benefits of winning like we do. He knows he will get the same feed and a few days off like after every race before. A horse needs to learn, early in his career, the feeling of victory. He may sense that the attitude around him is different after a win. You will notice sometimes that a stakes horse may have been running in claiming races early on. He may have needed those softer races to learn. Some champions just know to run and enjoy passing his rivals. A good trainer will ensure that the horse is ready for the first race and has been trained to pass or not to be passed. Don't break a horses heart by letting him get passed or trail the field over and over. Give him a shot at victory. It does not matter how much training or experience I put in, I will never beat Carl Lewis in a foot race. So don't expect your race horse to beat Secretariat. The saying, "Champions are born, not made", is not entirely true because you can ruin a naturally born champion. He must be trained as well. Sure, he was born to run, but he has to break out of the gate with a rider and make left turns. He wasn't born knowing that yet. Anyway, it's the trainers job to win races at a competitive level, not to gamble on the horse having the best day of his life while all the others are having the worst. Realize your horse's worth and not what you want him to be worth or you will fail most every time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Slots in Maryland. Let's get it done!

Why is Maryland dragging on the inevitable by not introducing slots. Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania has made the move to add the one arm bandits to their thoroughbred race tracks. Maryland horse racing is and will continue to suffer while the surrounding states thrive if something is not done soon.

Virginia will not see slots in our lifetime and horse racing will always be a week industry with light interest and cheap racing. When Maryland gets the slot machines, you will see the demise of Colonial Downs. Maybe a Nascar track would better suite New Kent, Virginia. Slots seem to be the answer. You hear the arguments, "not in my backyard", "not an image we want to portray". There is no end to the "why nots". Maybe it has been said already, but I believe it's about the revenue it takes away from the lottery. Ah Ha! I must admit that I am not an expert on state lottery fund allocation, but I am sure the key word there is, "State". I bet if the state got their cut of the action, then the slots would have shown up yesterday. Come on people, for real, what's the hold up?

Do you even know what you are feeding?

Don't throw your money away on feed and supplements without educating yourself on what they do and don't do. People spend millions of dollars on pretty packaging and promises of a more muscular and faster race horse. Just because there is a picture of a horse running fast on the bag, doesn't mean that it's right for your race horse. I have jokingly said, "if there is not a picture of a horse breathing fire on the bag then I don't by it.". That's my big marketing joke. This is why I am a horseman and not a comic.

Read your feed bag, which I bet most of you have no idea how to and what your are looking for, other than protein content. Protein is important, but you need to adjust the levels based on each horse's age, weight, body type, exercise, and metabolism. First of all, if you think that what you are feeding out of the bag is what your horses diet contains, then your are wrong. And yes, protein is the building block for muscles, but your are feeding a race horse not a body builder. And yes, you CAN put too much muscle on a horse unless he is pulling a plow. Bulk muscle is good for slow heavy work, not fast running.

Don't waste your time or money on the latest fad in equine sports nutrition. Stick with what you know and what is backed by some sort of scientific research. Supplements are that for a reason. They are to supplement the diet with what is lacking. Unlike drugs, they do not have extensive controlled studies to back their claims.

Not all supplements are what they seem... For example: Fat Cat is not a fat supplement, it's a protein and Carbohydrate supplement. Who knew? Unless of course you read the label. Fat is actually what the product lacks. If you added Fat Cat to the diet, thinking you were adding fat and reducing protein, then you were doing the opposite.

Most people don't take into consideration that the protein, fat and carbohydrates that the horse gets varies by the type and quantity of hay and other supplements that are fed. Your grain should actually supplement a good quality hay diet. A horse will get most of what he needs from vegetation anyway. Just read your feed label to see what vitamins and minerals are added. You pay a premium price for the added nutrition. Why spend double? So make sure before you add supplements to the grain, it doesn't already consist of it. Selenium and vitamin E are common supplements that I see horsemen add to their feeding regiment. I also see that same horsemen using a premium feed which already contains sufficient amounts of these supplements. Therefore, throwing money away by adding an excess which is just wasted because the body only absorbs a certain level and the rest is wasted. - Christopher Crocker

Friday, October 27, 2006

Realistic approach to owning thoroughbred race horses.

Be real! You must enter the game with a realistic expectation. The goal obviously is to win, but "you can't win them all" and "you got to lose some to win some". If you participate with a realistic and positive attitude then all you can do is have fun. When it no longer becomes fun, then you lose. What happens to the inexperienced owner in this game is that they expect to have the next super horse. Although this is possible, not probable. In this competitive sport of thoroughbred horse racing, if you get away with breaking even then you have beaten the odds. Even in professional baseball, the world series champion team has lost many games to get there. It is your responsibility to understand that owning a race horse can be as much of a gamble, if not more, than placing a bet at the window. Of course the risk is much larger than a typical gambler will face. The basis of a partnership is to reduce this risk and give an opportunity to the typical gambler who only dreamed of owning horses. In my opinion, there is nothing like being a part of a winning team and contributing to that success. Partnerships give "the little guy" a chance to participate with the big boys and have fun along the way. - Christopher Crocker

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A horse trainer once said to me...

A veteran horse trainer once said to me that, "A horse can only run as fast as genetically designed". Well that is certainly true. He was arguing against the use of modern veterinary medication and supplements to enhance a horse's racing performance. The point I made back was, "Yes that is true, but you need to maintain that speed for more than just a furlong". The job of the trainer is to train a horse to maximize the stamina and power behind the speed. The horse must use that speed when he needs to and not all at the beginning because fatigue is inevitable. He must learn to harness the speed and relax in the early pace of the race if he is to maximize his use of this "god given" speed. Just about any horse can run close to his top speed with just a handful 3/8ths workouts. To maintain the stamina it takes to get the horse running a six furlong or more race requires a training regiment that will condition him for rest of the required distance. This argument was in response to the statement made, not just the drug and supplement issue.

The racing commission does substance testing so the sport of horse racing stays on an even playing field and no substance is allowed that will harm the animal. The purpose behind the prohibition of certain substances is that harmful ones can make a horse run beyond the limits of ability. Horses and jockeys are at great risk when "performance enhancing drugs "are used. Substances that increase the heart rate can cause a horse to go into cardiac arrest under the strenuous racing conditions. Practices such as sodium bicarbonate loading (milkshaking) lets the horse run beyond what his body is capable of, by reducing the lactic acid build up that tells the muscles they are done. This is a very dangerous practice and is banned from all racing.

I will not argue to say, "what is allowed, must be given to the horse to give him an advantage". Most trainers are trying to cover all there bases, so to speak. One example of that is the use of first time starters on lasix. Why waste a race just to find out the horse is a bleeder? Maybe your horse never works hard or long enough to bleed in a workout. You don't need to find this out after the race. The trainers feel they must give everything but the kitchen sink to leave no room for pain, respiratory problems or fatigue. This is understandable since it seems like these days if the guy next door is doing it, why shouldn't you have the same "advantage". Of course this can be very expensive practice and not always economical. In a sport where lots of money can be made or lost in a matter of minutes, no one wants to take chances with the thought, "Why didn't I give that horse some of that stuff?". It's sort of like keeping up with the Jones. - Christopher Crocker

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Racing Partnerships to reduce individual risk.

Thoroughbred racing partnerships have become a smart alternative to owning race horses and for many reasons. What makes this a more attractive investment strategy among horse owners is because of the reduced risk of alone sponsoring a single race horse. Partnerships give the average person an opportunity to be a big time player in "The Sport of Kings". You can own a race horse without the high financial risk to a single investor. He or she can bring his friends in and enjoy the experience as a group. It also gives the horse owner an opportunity to own a piece of multiple animals and possibly have his horses running on a weekly or even daily bases.

For example:
If you have ten people own five horses or a hundred people own ten horses you spread out that risk and burden of daily training cost and vet bills. Whatever the situation, it means you don't keep all of your eggs in one basket. I like to view it as a mutual fund or a simple stock. Shares of the animal are sold just like a stock and dividends are paid just like a stock. Crocker Racing Stable has laid out a few strategies to choose from. It's something worth checking into. Visit - Christopher Crocker

Monday, October 16, 2006

Early starting two year old

Many factors go into choosing a yearling at a sale. You want to find yearlings with pedigrees that produce those early running two year olds. The horse will tend to be on the smaller side as well. A short limbed horse, especially the cannon bone is a favorable trait. A sprinter body type (wide chested, stocky) is a favorable trait as well. These are just few traits to look for if you want an early running, two year old, thoroughbred.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Maryland Million

Today is the Maryland Million at Laurel Park. The biggest day in racing for Maryland bred thoroughbred race horses. - Christopher Crocker