Thanks for sending in all your questions either via comment or by email. There were a decent amount of them – which is GREAT – so I’m going to break this up into a pair of posts. In no particular order…
Do owners ever buy back/claim a horse that was claimed from them? Can they do it the next race if the price is right or is there a rule against claiming a horse right back?
As long as you are a licensed owner at the track and have money in your account you can claim any horse in any claiming race – even one that was just claimed from you.
How does Canterbury compare to other places that you’ve raced?
I have been to see horses we own or manage race at Hawthorne, Arlington, Remington, Tampa Bay, Prairie Meadows and Santa Anita. Of course Arlington and Santa Anita are gorgeous physical plants and the crowds were good, but they are obviously the “major leagues” (though one could argue that designation is slipping) and have millions in regional population to draw from while we do not. As far as the “next level” goes, there is no real comparison. The crowd size is relative given regional populations but crowd enthusiasm is unmatched. I can say that a few years ago on a non-stakes Saturday at Belmont, Arlington and Santa Anita we outdrew all three.
What is a typical day like for the horse?
They’ll be awake and ready to go early. Depending upon where they are in their race cycle, they will walk (either by hand or on a walker) or head over to the track for a couple of miles of exercise. They’ll warm up a bit first and then jog or gallop depending upon what the trainer prescribes. When they get back to the barn they will cool out by walking – again either by hand or on the walker – and then get a bath and get brushed out. If they need any care like shoeing or wrapping, this will get done later in the morning as well. If they do a timed work, that will take the place of the gallop or walk. On race day there might be a light jog or walk in the morning and their feed schedule will be altered depending upon the time of day the race is going.
What is ‘body clipping’?
Sometimes a horse takes a little extra time to shed their winter coat. In order to speed that process along at the track they will sometimes get sheared. That is what we did with Kipper.
I didn’t see anything in the financials about feed & boarding. Are those included in one of the other items?
Yes. The feed, board and training are all wrapped up in the training costs. When a trainer factors his/her ‘day rate’ (the amount they charge per day for their services) they take into account the feed, hay, bedding, wraps, employees, etc. and then set their fee.
What goes into horse selection?
There are many methods that go in to finding a horse depending upon whether you are buying at auction, claiming or looking to breed. For the sake of this discussion we’ll keep it to claiming for the Club.
Pricing is important, you don’t want to overreach your budget and then be short of money for expenses! For the Club we target a pair around $7500 – $10,000. We look for:
Soundness – breaks in racing are okay. In fact, they are important for the horse’s well being, but you want to see them well spaced once or twice a year rather than 2 starts, 2 months off, etc. We want to be able to race relatively often for everyone over the summer so being able to bounce back is important.
Consistency – It’s nice to see a horse that hits the board, and wins, fairly often. You know that they try and they have the ability and know how to win. Ideally they would have cleared their conditions (non-winner of 2, non-winners of 3) because as a horse climbs through their conditions, each level becomes harder and horses that have cleared conditions and still can be competitive are good to have.
Appearance – Clay gives them the once over when they are coming into the paddock. You want to make sure that there are no signs of trauma or surgery as well as no unusual swelling in the joints. You also want to see how they move, make sure they are loose and relaxed as opposed to a bit stiff or anxious and washy.
In theory we could go after a single higher priced horse but keeping in mind the parameters of the club – to teach and to learn – it makes more sense to have more mid-range horses that can run often and expose us to many of the experiences in racing.
Where are our spots to watch races and when are the tours?
Generally our spot is in Silks if there is space available. This last race we had 6 or 7 tables inside and out (given the weather). Usually there is a stand up sign but there was no one to get those up in group sales so I went around and placed the signs directly on tables so they may have been tougher to spot. I’ll announce on here a day or two before the race where our spot is, if we get one.
We were prepared to get the tour dates set after the race but with the horse gone we decided to wait until we get another horse in the barn. While still interesting, the highlight is being able to gather outside of the barn and have our horse(s) come out and be able to “meet and greet”, so to speak. Hopefully we will have another horse shortly and then we’ll get the tour dates set and have people sign up.
What is a “waiver claiming” race?
It is a claiming race that has a provision for horses that have been laid off for a while. It gives those owners the option of entering the race without having to be available for claim. The owner can only exercise this option one and it has to be the first race off the layoff.
What is “in prison” for a horse that’s been claimed?
This is a question that varies from racetrack to racetrack. Here at Canterbury, if you claim a horse the horse must run here at Canterbury until the end of the meet and nowhere else or until 60-days have expired – whichever comes first.
At other tracks it can be 30-days; it could be just until the end of the meet regardless of how long; there may be a provision that a horse can’t run back at or under it’s claimed price for X-number of days. Here a horse can come back at any claiming level.
Thanks for all the questions! Please keep them coming if/when you have more and we will stockpile them a little bit and then do another rundown with answers in a few weeks.