Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Rough Start For Santa Anita and Pro-Ride

Another day another mishap or two! Two days of racing does not set a precedent, however, if the two days of Breeder's Cup races resulted in the same number of injuries to horses as the first two days of the Santa Anita meet, praise would not have been the response for the Pro-Ride surface.

I'm don't want to get into another long discussion about surfaces or offer any solutions, I don't think there are any. I've already made my feelings about the synthetic tracks known here. They will continue to occur, it's the nature of the beast (no pun intended). I have always felt that they are even more likely to occur in the premier events because that is where the sports best athlete's compete. Those races are where supreme effort pushes performance to it's physical limits. And that is why I think more injuries occur in top level races. But take this as hearsay at the moment because I don't know this assumption to be true. It may be more injuries occur at in cheap Maiden Claiming races where the physically inferior horses show up. But my assumption is they can't or won't run hard enough to hurt themselves as often.

We can try to limit breakdowns by making surfaces as safe as possible and running horses that are as healthy as possible. That's about all we can do, regardless of them being synthetic or natural. We can only hope that through track safety and by the cessation of steroid use for non-medical, non-injury uses that the numbers of injuries, over time, will be significantly lowered. Synthetic tracks are not a panacea for this problem. The use of synthetics seems like a viable option to natural surfaces in some areas of the country, but why California dove into them headfirst is a real bewilderment. I'm not suggesting there will be more injuries on synthetics, but over time I do not think there will be fewer. I do think the negative impacts to the sport and breed by racing only synthetics should have been considered more carefully (again my thoughts on that are in the above link.)

Harm to the industry as a result of harm to horses is the real issue here. And another area that falls into this is horse slaughter. No one likes to talk about it, everyone wants to come down on the politically correct side of saying that we have to save them. That too is a nice idea but I don't think it is possible either. And maybe it shouldn't be the answer. I was taken by the common sense of a letter [No Easy Answer] in the Horse (January 2009) this month that addressed this issue. The humane slaughter of horses should be at the center of this issue. The letter addressed horses in general but in the thoroughbred industry alone too many horses are being bred and too many are are not going to be useful racehorses. What is the answer? You can't save them all. And while I can't envision ever consuming a horse myself there are obviously many in the world that have and do. Is that not a noble end for any living thing? To add to life. To nourish life. It seems to me that those are two goals that one should strive for in life and are in no way demeaning or degrading as a final use for the remains of life. I think this is probably more of a cultural issue than anything else. Don't get my intention here wrong. I am not saying that we shouldn't try to save horses. I am saying that we can not and will not be able to save them all. If we all accept that reality the next best thing to do is to insure that as many as possible are humanely handled and that they are used for the greatest good.

*As a late addendum to this I'd like to link to this article in the Blood-Horse that was brought to my attention by another TBA member. Check out her site at [GBG]. When the world works with care and compassion good things happen. This is how it ought to be.

I was going over my Malibu entry to see where I had erred in my calculations. I'd have to say Amateurcapper, pointed out one of my biggest omissions in his response, namely, I found fault with several of the entries because of breaks in training but then neglected to see the same fault in Georgie Boy (23 days, as pointed out by Amateur, after the Damascus). The only fault I found with Bob Black Jack was that he hadn't beaten any of these yet. But he was always competitive. And as I pointed out he was working better than any of the others. Along with the fact that I had several points of issue with all the others it's hard to see why I didn't see what my own analysis was pointing at. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the tress we've planted. What surprised me most in the Malibu was the race Into Mischief's ran. Because of his post I thought he would have to be leading the entire way to win. I didn't think with the speed in the race that was possible so I thought he would fade a half dozen lengths by the end of the race. How wrong that was! Over all a very nice race to watch.

1 comment:

Amateurcapper said...

Thanks for the shout-out regarding the Malibu.
INTO MISCHIEF had come from off the pace in the Damascus and tried the same tactics. This time: classier pacesetter + smaller field = no pace collapse and a runner-up finish.
Check out my piece on the injuries if you have time...take the poll as well ( Tell your friends :).

Have a great week, happy New Year!