Questions Answered

On occasion Jeff and I get e-mail asking questions that we feel like may be brewing in the minds of many rather than the just the e-mailer. We’ve gathered some of those together and I’ll go ahead and answer them here. Keep them coming and I’ll sporadically post the Q&A here on the blog!

I guess that leads me to another point – please go ahead and read through the comments that amass on the posts. Your fellow members ask some very good questions and I’ve found over time that they tend to be representative of what other members are thinking as well.

On to the questions:

WHEN WILL OUR HORSE RUN AGAIN? Every horse is different. Some recover from race in a few days while others may need more than a week. In any case, it takes a few weeks for a racehorse to recover from the effort and get back into the groove to race again. Clay likes a three week period between races as a guideline.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE MONEY THAT WE WIN? In a few days I would anticipate receiving Clay’s bill from the time of the claim through May 31 as well as the vet bill. After I receive those you’ll see a detailed spreadsheet of where the expenses are. A more utilitarian answer is that the money goes into an account in the bookkeeper’s office. In our last race, for example, we won $10,200 for Maryjean winning the race. $2 is deducted on every start to help fund retired racehorse efforts and $1020 (10%) is deducted for the jockey fees. Out of the rest and the money deposited I will pay the rest of the bills – trainer, vet and farrier (usually included in the trainer bill). That is also the pot of money from which we will be claiming another horse.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR ENTERING A RACE? There is a book, called a condition book, which lists the races that plan to be run over a period of time (usually about a month) at the track. The book is divided up into race days and usually has 8 or 9 races per day. There are also another 4 or 5 called substitute races. There is another category called “extra races” that I will get to later.

When we anticipate when the horse may be ready to run we look ahead in the condition book to the races scheduled around that time. When the day to enter comes (usually 3-days ahead of the race day except on Sunday when entries are drawn for Thursday night) the trainer goes to a window in the racing office and enters a horse in via a computer. While there is a video screen that lists all the races and how many entries there are, but no names – no one else knows who the horses are until entries are drawn.

Usually the fullest fields are used, while some rare exceptions. By agreement with the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) the races in the condition book, if full, have to be used. The substitute races are next in case a “main” race isn’t full. Finally there are extra races.

An extra is a race that may be close to being full for the day it was in the condition book but not quite. The racing secretary may have an indication that if the race were to come back the next day there are a couple of other horses that may be ready and the race would fill up so the race is carried over as an “extra”. There are usually several of these in addition to the main book and substitute races.

HOW IS A JOCKEY SELECTED? The trainer decides which jockey may have the right riding style for his/her horse. A particular animal may like softer hands, or more aggressive handling, and the trainer tries to procure the jockey that would best fit his horse. Jockeys also try and secure mounts that will allow them to win more races so there is a bit of a dance between the jockey agents and the trainers to secure the best mounts while not alienating a particular trainer.

These were the latest, but keep the questions coming in and we’ll keep answering them – that is EXACTLY what this is all about!!

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16 thoughts on “Questions Answered

  1. That’s interesting about how trainers enter their horses into races but they don’t know who they are racing against at the time. I never knew that. Do the trainers ever say “oh crap, we’re up against this horse” and then can they scratch their entry or can a horse only be scratched from a race by the vet? Which brings up another question, how does the track vet examine each horse and how thoroughly to determine the horse is fit to race?

    • Trainers, as well as owners (I’VE totally done it!), are sometimes surprised and dismayed by a particular entry in a race. However, a horse cannot be scratched willy nilly. There needs to be a valid reason – weather, course change from turf to dirt, physical issue – for a horse to scratch. A scratched horse usually losses their preference date as well. (A preference date is the number a horse receives in case a race is overdrawn. In that case, horses with a better preference date – usually longer from their last race to this one- get in. It can be harder to enter if you get shuffled back).

      A track vet examines every horse entered the morning/afternoon of a race. It consists of a short physical exam to try and catch any heat in a limb or joint (indicative of possible injury) as well as a jog down the shedrow to makebsurethw horse is moving well.

  2. Ted you mention a full race how many horses constitutes a full field or race. And does the overflow move to the extra race. Thank you for the info!

    • I’m going by memory here but I believe the agreement between the track and the horsemen dictates that a race is considered “full” once it has 7 entries (though that may be 6). So if that number is reached in a race in the main portion if the condition book, that race has to be used before any substitutes or extras.

  3. Hmmm. Under our current schedule for paddock visiting, etc., at the rate currently, the fifth group will be able to visit the paddock in mid August. Seems we may have a few too many members or we may need another group. This is fun but the huge turnout for joining creates an issue.

    • We’ll be claiming another horse – hopefully shortly – and that will pick up the pace. Last year we had 9 Canterbury races and 4 groups so everyone got through twice.

      Admittedly the size of the group is a challenge but remember that the purpose of the Club is to give members a taste of ownership as well as teaching people about what goes into campaigning a racehorse. By it’s nature it can’t provide the same experience as if a member belonged to a smaller group or owned a horse on your own – but also carries significantly lower cost and much less risk.

      We’ve had some discussion on multiple groups but that can generate it’s own set of issues. (Can you imagine if one group was successful and one wasn’t?) We decided that, as an educational tool, a single Club is the best option.

  4. Ted, this is an email unrelated to the subject, but I was wondering who the lady is in the 2013 Winner’s Circle photo above who is kneeling on the ground in front towards the left in a white dress with the brown handbag in front of her. I think she’s a long lost relative of mine…I’m on the left standing up in the bright blue shirt with my hands on the shoulders of the guy standing in front of me next to Janet Jackson wearing the LOVE t-shirt. Her and I look like twins! I understand if you are unable to post this reply but I’m going to put it out there anyhow….thanks, Kathy

  5. Now that its been 10 days, and we are probably starting to look for our nextbspot.. what are a couple of the possibilities in the condition book

    • This book ends on the 15th and ideally we’d like to run the following weekend so we need to wait until the next book comes out which should be some time this week. Clay and I have discussed moving her up a bit in class but nothing is etched on stone except that she will be sprinting.

  6. I have a couple Questions. 1. What does a week of training look like for MaryJean? Does she sit in her stall a lot and only exercised once every 7 days or so? 2. Is there a cool down and ramp up period between races? 3. What do trainers do different? Besides quality of horses, what is the difference between Mr. Brinson, Mac Robertson and say Todd Pletcher & Bob Baffert?

    J. Eric Menge

    pe5935@hotmail.com Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2014 22:34:55 +0000 To: pe5935@hotmail.com

    • If she’s not in a race, she will gallop several days a week as well as jog. One day she’ll work a timed work and usually the day after that work she will just be walked – either by hand or on the hot walker.

      One of the biggest differences, besides quality of horses as you mentioned, is more individualized care – though NOT by the trainer. On the Canterbury backstretch you’ll have a ratio of roughly 5 horses to every groom. Some barns may be a little less, others may be a little more. In the barns of the big trainers, you get a two to one or one to one ratio – though you also pay considerably more for that attention. There also may be more higher priced supplements used – vitamins and the like – than we would see on the backside here. Again, you’re paying over $125 a day for that kind of care – nearly double what most trainers charge here.

  7. What does it mean when a horse changes leads ? How bad is it when they don’t ? How common is it to not do this ? Does it depend on the jockey ?

    • If you watch a horse gallop in slow motion you can see that one front leg gets outstretched before the other. That leg is on the lead. Generally when a horse turns for home they will switch leads in the lane and that gives it that next gear that you sometimes see. Why? Because running on the same lead all the way around the racetrack will tire the horse out. Switching leads helps keep the legs a bit fresher so when they don’t switch, you don’t get a good strong finish which could lead to horses passing them down the stretch. Generally most horses switch on their own but sometimes they get a reminder from their jock, most commonly in the form of a tap in front with the stick.

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