Racing at such a young age - Page 4

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Racing at such a young age

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    09-08-2011, 09:20 PM
The futurity and derby horse races we have today started as ways of showing rich people who were interested in race horses that the potential of a horse was. So the it could be sold and someone with the big money could take on the cost of finishing raising it to race after it was grown. A bit like buy futures on the maket. Hense "futurity"....future.
These morphed into what we have today, because people soon realized that there was a lot of money to me made. Even in these early races and rather small races (often matches) there was betting and a lot of money changing hands. Eventually it become the industry it is today. Run the young and make whatever money you can (if the horse can win any money). Keep the cost ratio as low as possible. When the ratio reaches a wrong point, the horse is gone.
It didn't start as a bad idea, since it wasn't intended to put the horses what they go through today. It was always about the money, but not on this scale.
I'm not going to keep going, since it's a bit like beating a dead horse. Even if you've never experienced the overall effects from it, there is more than enough information out there.
If you want a test book case of what this has done to some remarkable horses read about Ruffian (died 1975. Always wondered what a Ruffian/Secretariate offspring might have been able to do). She was believed to be fast enough to win triple crown (no small feat for a filly). She fractured a bone racing Foolish Pleasure (from the same farm she was from) in a match race for what was then a track record purse...over $200,000. She was beating him from the start and lengthening the distance as she went until her bone snapped. To put this in perspective of what this represented. Foolish pleasure was the Kentucky Derby winner that year, 2nd at the Preakness and I believe she had him by a length, with the gap widening when she went down. Do so research on her and you'll see why people who race these young horses really do not have the horse interest at heart. I can promise you the cried over Ruffian (she was a real money maker). She had a serious injury the year before and they'd spared no expense to get her better and fully recoverd to race again. Few cry over the other many 1,000 that never win and are disposed of in some form.
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    09-14-2011, 04:46 PM
Watching Ruffian go down turned me OFF of racing. Here's another case:
The Horse | Champion Thoroughbred Beautiful Pleasure Dies
16 yo mare with great care gets laminitis.
its lbs not miles likes this.
    09-14-2011, 10:45 PM
Originally Posted by Corporal    
Watching Ruffian go down turned me OFF of racing. Here's another case:
The Horse | Champion Thoroughbred Beautiful Pleasure Dies
16 yo mare with great care gets laminitis.

I've never understood how anyone who saw that incredible filly go down could think racing horses this way, before they finished growing, was acceptable.

So many animals with so much potential used up or destroyed before they finished growing.

I would love to see ban on racing horses younger than 60 months and racing at the tracks restricted to 6 year olds and above. It would be just as exciting (a fast horse race is still a fast horse race), but less damaging.
    09-15-2011, 12:48 AM
I totally agree racing 2 year old tbs they are too young

How could we take steps to make that the law? The Ultra rich who contorl the sport would never allow it.... it's too bad.

I have TBs and I totally agree that it burns them up and is hurtful to race them so hard so young.
My friend who is a trainer that has won a lot of stakes races says " Humans will ruin 990 out of every 1000 horses, the other 10 will wind up winning some money."

He complains that the Tb Horse racing industry used to be made up of "HORSE People" now he says its all about the $$ and the people making the decisions about these horses don't know about HORSES they know about making $$. "get them making $$ as quick as you can and as cheap as you can so that you can dump horses that are not performing...... " He says that they hire the cheapest grooms and exercisers possible to save $$ and many times the horse is the one who pays the price. He's seen a lot of injuries from wrapping their legs too tight, from not giving them water, from feeding them totally inappropriate things, the list goes on and on.....

Just my experience and 2 cents I for one would LOVE to set a 4 year old racing limit on these horses. Let them grow up. The ONLY people who benefit IMO from racing these horses early is the business people involved that want a quick turn around on thier investment.

And I'm not saying that there are not ppl who love their horses and only want the best for them. Their are good trainers/owners and bad but I think we can all agree that racing a 2 year old is not in the horses best interest.
    09-15-2011, 01:43 AM
There has never been a time when these races were done by people who truly cared about the horse beyond the money to be made. But if someone is about 250 years old they might be able to say they remember a time when some of the people involved in racing really cared about their horses. That far back the big 2 and 3 year old races hadn't yet become the big money races, but it was the eve of these races beginning. The people who got them going called themselves horse people, but it's been about big money and run by money since before the first Kentucky Derby.

This form of racing started in the later half of the 1700's in the UK and the purses then were as high as 1,000+ British pounds (a huge some of money in the late 1700. They started in the US in the early part of the 1800s (prior to 1840). These people bred their horses to be fast, win them money and do it before they reached the age of 4. If they weren't winning by the age of 4 they were history (they were history anyway, because by 4 they were usually finished if they were still sound). In the 1700's it stopped being about showing what a horses potential was so you could sell them. It was about winning big races and making big money while the horses were very young and still growing. Make money with those that could make it before you spent so much on them.

If any of these people had been horse people they wouldn't have been putting their horses through the training and entering these races while their horses bodies were still growing and subject to so much damage from racing.

That it will never change is almost certainly an accurate assessment. The people in this industry don't want it to change. They would lose so much money if it changed. The fact that a horse doesn't finish growing until it's 5 years old doesn't matter to them. The fact that other races require a 60 month age limit (Derby's don't measure age by month, but based on 1 Jan), so that the horses are grown doesn't matter to them.

The fact that a person would subject a 2, 3 or 4 year old horse to this would exclude them from being a person that cared about the horse.
    09-15-2011, 02:01 AM
I think racing a horse at 4 is a different thing altogether than racing at 2.

Since Many 2 years old aren't even really 2.... I was under the impression that their bones or joints or whatever it is are closed up by the age of 4 years.

And I Do think that there ARE caring people in the racing industry. I know my friend is a very caring and VERY knowledgeable person who does not believe in giving drugs of any kind to his horses, despite the fact that many drugs are track legal. He also does not participate in 2 year old horse racing despite the fact that is is the norm. And I know that he is not alone in that. There is a GROWING movement among caring trainers and owners to put thier horses out later as 3 and 4 year olds. Yes it's not the main stream but it does exist.

I'm just saying that we can't make the mistake of painting EVERY SINGLE owner and trainer with that DEMON brush like "They don't care about the horses". Bacause I personally know people who don't fit that profile :) It's just too bad that THEY are not the norm.
    09-15-2011, 02:45 AM
Horse legs finish up by 4. Backs finish at 5. So if you're racing a horse at 3 there thundering around the track on legs that have not finish solidifying.
Ruffian was 3 when she went down.
People are free to believe what they want. There are vets who morn over horses that are injured in these races, but will patch them up, give them something for the pain and help them heal so they can get out there and race again. Knowing that the horse is still a young, growing animal. There is a reason horse have to be at least 5 to compete in endurance races (4 for the shorter limited race). At 4 the legs should be finished firming up. At 5 the back (last thing to finish growing) should be ready.
You can race at 4, but in the TB Derby racing industry training begains long before they ever race, so if you are going to give the horse the best chance to be completely sound you limit the amount of stress you put on the legs while still forming. That means at 4 whan the legs are ready you can start the hard training. Otherwise, to race them at for you'll have them technically "racing" (watch how these horses are run for training) while they are 3 so they can race at 4.

As for all these wonderful grooms/trainers/vets/handlers/owners, etc.... who love and care for these horses. If I took your horse at the age of 3, provided it loving care and attention. Provided it with a perfect diet. Gave it the best medical attention money could buy.
BUT....I also raced it every day to build up it's muscles and endurance. Pushing it a little harder as it's contioning improved (or perhaps I should say I gave it workouts every day....that sounds better, but pounding around the track as fast as you can has the same effect whether you're racing or training). And when it was old enough (we might have started "training" at 18 months, but we'll be nice and say 24 months), at 3 years old I put your beloved horse in races with other 3 year olds. All still waiting for their legs to finish growing. So for over a year I've subjected your horses legs to as much trauma as I could without making it break down (I have a vet there to check it regularly, after all we want to be able to race). Now I've put your horse on the track and we'll push it to run it's heart out as fast as it's still growing legs will carry it. And as long as your horse holds up and looks like it has potential I'll continue to put it into the races (hopeful of winning some money). Don't lose track of the fact that I'm "love" and "care" about your horse, but I'm putting it's still forming body through a significant amount of stress.
Now, how much do think I really love your horse?
Look at Ruffian. Do think for one minute that all the people connected with that lovely filly didn't love her? This horse that was a proven winner. Setting records (some of which might still be standing) and believed by some to be able to win the big races dominated by the colts. I can assure you there probably wasn't a dry eye among the people connected with Ruffian when she went down and had to be put down. BUT they still raced her, like they do all these horse, at an age when she should not have been raced. And she had not gone down, and had won that race (which I don't think anyone doubts she would have won), they would have kept right on racing her.
I'm not saying none of these are good people. Being a good person doen't mean you truly care about a horse. If it was YOUR 3 year old that they were doing this to, what would you say? How good would they be then, with respect to the well being of your horse? They would never do this to my 3 year old, because they don't have her best interest at heart. It's still about the money for all of them. It's their job, their livelyhood. They depend on it.
    09-15-2011, 03:18 AM
Look I'm not saying they are GOOD people because they "supposedly care and love their horses".. I'm saying that they care and love their horses and because of that, more and more people don't run them as two or three year olds. I'm only saying that NOT EVERYONE IS THIS INDUSTRY races 2 and 3 year olds and that there is a growing movement in racing to wait to race the horses until they are grown. Subscribe to any of the Thoroughbred racing magazines and you will see more and more top trainers and owners opting out of both 2 and three year old races.....
I think to say that everyone in racing trains this way and that way is wrong. There are as many ways to train a race horse as there are owners and trainers out there.
I've been on the periphery of horse racing for many years as I used to buy OTTBs and retrain them for Hunters and Jumpers. I've seen a lot of injuries that horses received from racing, it's a tough sport but so is FOOTBALL, Basketball and Marathon running. It's a sport people get hurt.....

So I want to be part of the solution NOT part of the problem.... what can I DO as a TB owner as a horsewoman out in the world to insure that this sport that many people (including me) love, is as kind as it can be to the horses?? That is my question to you ?? What can we do to improve the current situation??

And to site the example of Ruffian as your proof that it's hard on the horses is a little short sited IMO. Yes it was a tradgidy what happened to her, no one whould deny that... HOWEver SHE IS one HORSE IN A FOAL CROP THAT YEAR OF HOW MANY 35,000? I mean there was recently a post on the board about horses being STRUCK BY LIGHTENING and someone said that her vet says she sees several horses every year struck by lightening, multiply that by every vet in every city in every county in every state and you got a LOTTA horses dying from being struck by lightening. I'm saying that freak accidents can and do occur.....
    09-15-2011, 03:26 AM
And just in case you think I have NO idea what I'm talking about ... I have a 4 year old filly that I am thinking of putting into race training JUST NOW.... She is living a life of leisure out on the pasture getting to be a horse. She made 4 years old in March. So she is 4 and a half now.....and I wouldn't have dreamed of racing a 1 or 2 or 3 year old.... but that's just ME. She has not been pounding around the race track, she lives at my farm out on the pasture with 3 other horses.....
    09-15-2011, 04:48 AM
Sad to say, but there really isn't much anyone can do. People have tried for years. You can't beat the money. People who care and just want to train and race adult horses are up against people with more money and control of that industry. Two ways I see that a change happen.
A) A law gets passed forcing it (that's been tried, but money can buy or prevent just about anything) OR
B) Every TB breeder in the country withholds racing their young horse. If there's not 2 and 3 year olds to race, then they can't hold that race. All the Derby's would go away. Figure the odds of that ever happening. :))
OR (my favorite)
C) If Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and enough of the other super rich got together and sponcered 3 or 4 big races, with matching or record setting winners purses and imposed an age limit of 5 year olds and above. If they did that and ran the races every year, then the Derby's might die down. Especially with the bigger money attracting owners, faster horses attracting spectators, which would both attract more media. If they got big enough and started a bigger industry of fully matured horses doing the racing. That might eventually end the 2-3 year old racing. But what are the odds of that every happening?

(BTW: A horse could probably be raced at 3, but it's not good because of the time and work involved to get the horse conditions for racing. It would mean stressing the joints at 2. Better wait until after 3 to start the hard training and race at 4+ I'll cover why I like 5+ in a bit). Hense endurance racing requiring 60 months.
Horses race at 3 now and break down. They are put through lot at 2 or younger just to get them ready at 3, so damage has already been done.

Would you like more horses than Ruffian? I used her because she was a BIG winner (including the triple crown for fillies the year she died) and a great example of how people care more about the money than the horse.
There was Barbaro and War Admiral, but I'm not great at pulling names out of a hate :)). I could start searching the web for more, but those are some of the big names. Of course less than 1% of the horses ever get any recognition, so the big names that break down are a % of that 1%. Most are never known, because they didn't win (for whatever reason) and were disposed of in some fashion. About 5,000 horses pass into and out of that racing industry every year. Plus there are even more that are still in and aren't out of the industry yet. It repersents a big investment for the people who breed and raise them and a lot of money for the vets/trainers/handlers/etc....
People who don't train hard are not going to produce big money winners. It's like somone who trains for a year joging and/or walking 5 miles a day, 3 days a week to get in shape (but keep it easy on their knees) competing in a 5K race against someone who's spent the last 6 months running 5-6k 5 days a week. You have to train for what you expect to do. I don't have a problem with training horses to run a hard race. Just the age that it's done at. Don't start building up for the heard racing before they're over 36 months.

Yes, contact sports are rough, but that would probably more like comparing it to polo. This is racing, not a contact sport.

Yes, you can find a few older horses racing. Some were started later and kudos to the rare owner who does bear the cost of waiting. There are some who started young, managed to win enough money AND stay sound enough to keep racing (possibly as rare as those who's owners cared enough to wait). You can sometimes even find 6 year olds racing, but not in the Derby's. You see (and this "logic" has always escaped me) "adult" racing TB of 5+ (this holds true of the other breeds too) are usually faster than a racing 3 year old (much like a 21 year old human is usually faster than a 14 year old). The big races have an age limit of 3 years old. Now think about that and consider the speed records horses like Secretariate and Ruffian could have set if they'd been trained, coinditioned and then turned loose on the track at 5 years of age.

I can't say why they are so hung up on 3 year olds, but they are. And that's where the money and, by default, the power is. And as a result, that's were all the media attention is.

If you have a solution that works, you'll have done what great many have tried to do for many, many years. You have all my best wishes if you plan to join the ranks of those battling the 3 year olds racing industry. There are still people fitting it. It's like a relay race that never ends. As one person falls away there's always more joining.

But always comes back to: You can't defeat the money.

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