Originally Posted by Spastic_Dove
See, I blame Eight Bells and Big Brown's injuries on poor breeding.
A friend of mine (who owns and breeds racehorses very selectively) said that you can breed the soundness out of a breed a lot quicker than you can breed it back in....so true.
In addition, age is not as much the factor as the conditioning - or lack thereof. There have been tons of studies about this and horses conditioned over varying terrain of varying angles and grades will be stronger bone and connective tissue wise than one that is not. Including if you start two horses at 18 mos and one only runs on a groomed track and the other over typical "countryside" type terrain, the latter will be sound longer than the former WITH the exception of breeding....
What I mean by that is two identical horses one with bloodlines that have soundness issues and one that does not, there will be a difference. However, on track conditions, it will take multiple horses before the horse breaks down in extreme and catastrophic circumstances. By taking a horse with those same genetic soundness issues over varying terrain (following a proper load-building workout plan that takes into consideration bone and connective tissue takes longer to condition and build strength in than muscle), any unsoundnesses will likely be brought out in the way of initially mild lamenesses. This enables them to be diagnosed, and the opportunity to identify the horse as not fit for racing, and focus them on a different career.
The reality is, however, that outside of a few well run farms in the UK and Ireland where the focus is on creating true equine athletes - that if not sound for flats, will do other equine events - and an even fewer number of trainers in the US - that the vast majority of people want to see a return on their investment much sooner. Point being, why run on varying terrain to slowly build the load capacity of the joints and stay apparatus when you can breeze on a groomed track and get the horses in races sooner? Also what owner wants to hear that not only will it take longer to condition their horse, but that they tried them on varying terrain and the horse was unsound and shouldn't be raced? What "average" owner will understand WHY and HOW you run a horse to condition load bearing of stay apparatus? What does stay apparatus have to do with winning races anyway? See what I'm getting at?
Even as a three year old race, the Triple Crown would be okay (still older is better, I agree) IF the horses were trained properly over varying terrain to build the proper durability. In reality, however, they are not.