Monday, January 30, 2012

Horse Profiling, The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes

I recently heard from the editor that the book Kerry Thomas and I co-authored – Horse Profiling, The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes – was sent to the printer last week. Kerry and I are now in the stretch drive to publication.

Here's a big thank you to all of our family and friends and the all the folks at Trafalgar Square Books for the encouragement and support along the trail, in our journey into the intimate drama of life in the equine circle.

Kerry and I would also like to give special thanks to HRH Princess Alia al Hussein of the Princess Alia Foundation, US Equestrian Federation Senior Judge, trainer and coach, Thomas Poulin, US Eventing Association Hall-of-Fame inductee Denny Emerson and renowned sport horse trainer Lester Buckley for their glowing tribute and contribution to the book.

What a journey it’s been since Kerry first traveled to Wyoming and Montana in 1989 to study wild horse herds in their natural habitat.

A unique condition – color blindness – led Kerry to catalog the horses he studied by personality type, instead of by coat color, and that led to his development of the Emotional Conformation Profile which is a tool he uses to evaluate horse behavior.

It is no secret that speed, stamina, jumping ability, and athletic prowess depend on the horse’s physical ability to perform – to run, stop, turn, balance, and to be powerful or graceful. However, the world has seen many “great” athletic bodies, human and horse, fail to reach their true potential, while others, perhaps thought to be less great in form and function, reach the pinnacle of their sport or discipline.

In the world of human athletes, we might claim hard work, “grit,” or “heart” as the force greater than muscle that propels them to the top. But the horse doesn’t have performance goals in the way we do, so what is it that motivates one racehorse to leave the rest of the field behind to cross the finish line first?

Kerry discovered that “Emotional Conformation” – not physical conformation – governs equine herd dynamics and that, regardless of breed or career, an Emotional Conformation Profile could dictate in large part the success or failure of the horse in the human environment including performance sports and competition.

Focusing on this research, Kerry began to cultivate ways in which a horse’s “mental capacity” could be identified and then “conditioned” toward a given goal.

Can your racing prospect handle distance? Does your event horse have the “finish” to clear that last enormous cross-country obstacle when his legs are tired? Is your reining horse capable of maintaining focus in the face of large crowds and multiple distractions?

These are the questions Horse Profiling helps answer. Kerry and I hope you enjoy the journey into the intimate drama of life in the equine circle.


Horse Profiling, The Secret to Motivating Equine Ahtletes can be ordered online at this link.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Holy Bull Stakes Racing Roundup

Hansen, undefeated in three starts and the 2011 Eclipse Champion 2-Year-Old Male, will try to keep his perfect record intact when he goes to the starting gate today in the 25th running of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Tagged as the 6-5 morning line favorite, Hansen likes to take the early lead and he’s never been headed in all three of his previous starts. However, with the speedy Algorithms (5-2) and Consortium (3-1) in the starting gate lineup, Hansen will have to improve his game if he’s to retain his undefeated record.

I profiled Algorithms and Consortium in my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook and of the six colts entered in today’s race, those two are the ones I’m most interested in and believe may have classic potential.

Algorithms and Consortium are stepping up in class and making their 3-year-old debut in today’s race. However, if they have improved since their 2-year-old season, I look for both to very competitive in the Holy Bull.

Both colts are lightly raced and were sired by Bernardini. Of the two, I’m leaning a little bit toward Algorithms, however, it is still early on the trail to the first Saturday in May.

In just his second start, Algorithms looked impressive coming off of a six-month layoff, to defeat favored Consortium by one length in a 6½-furlong allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park on December 16.

Traveling three-wide in third-place for most of the race, Algorithms chased the fast pace set by Seven Kind and Consortium until he rallied in the stretch to take the lead and win with a sharp final time of 1:15.51.

That’s the kind of performance I like to see in a young colt and if Algorithms is anything like his sire, Bernardini, then he shouldn’t have a problem carrying that speed to route racing – especially 10-furlongs.

Bernardini did not race as a 2-year-old but at the age of three, he was a fast colt that won races from a mile to 10-furlongs. Notable races that Bernardini won en route to becoming the 2006 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male include: Withers Stakes (G3, 8-furlongs), Preakness Stakes (G1, 9½-furlongs), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2, 8½-furlongs), Travers Stakes (G1, 10-furlongs) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1, 10-furlongs).

Consortium will have to improve his game too if he’s going to turn the tables on Algorithms who won by a length in their last race. Stalking the pace set by Seven Kind, Consortium travelled comfortably in second-place and took the lead in the stretch but turned it over to Algorithms in the final strides.

Algorithms earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure for his win over Consortium and a bullet work on January 23 indicates that Algorithms could be ready to run another good race – he also fired a bullet before his last race.

Last year’s Holy Bull victor, Dialed In, was made the early Kentucky Derby favorite after the race and with champion Hansen in the starting gate it’s a good bet that the winner of today’s race will be early favorite for the 2012 Derby.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lecomte Stakes Racing Roundup

Shared Property heads a field of thirteen 3-year-old thoroughbreds today in what appears to be a wide open edition of the 68th running of the $175,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

Tagged as the 4-1 morning line favorite, Shared Property has not raced for more than three months and comes into the race off of a 4¾-length loss in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland last October.

However, if Shared Property returns to his previous form prior to that race, he should be competitive in the Lecomte. Shared Property broke his maiden last July at Ellis Park and then followed that performance with a one-length victory in the Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park in September.

Scat Daddy, the sire of Shared Property, was a precocious 2-year-old colt that won the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Sanford Stakes (G2). As a 3-year-old, Scat Daddy won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1).

Belong To Me, the damsire of Shared Property, was a multiple graded stakes winning sprinter but at stud he sired some notable middle-distance runners such as Forever Together who was a multiple graded-stakes winner with over $2.9 million in career earnings. Belong To Me is also the damsire of Circular Quay, winner of the 2007 Louisiana Derby.

Trainer Todd Pletcher must seem pretty confident about the chances of Dan And Sheila (6-1) to win the Lecomte as he moves the young colt up in class off of his maiden debut win last month at Gulfstream Park. I also like his chances and if Dan And Sheila improves off of that effort, he should be competitive.

More Than Ready, the sire of Dan And Sheila, has made quite a mark with his sons Phelan Ready and Sebring who were champion 2-year-colts in Australia with over $2 million in career earnings. His best runners in America have been the turf-sprinter Regally Ready with over $1 million in career earnings and Pluck, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2) and Summer Stakes (G3) with $727,290 in career earnings.

Capetown Devil comes into the Lecomte with a perfect undefeated record in three starts – at three different race tracks – for trainer David Carroll and he should be competitive in today’s race. He’s already won at the distance of today’s race when last month at the Fair Grounds, despite losing his footing at the start, Capetown Devil recovered and managed to win by a neck.

Cape Town, the sire of Capetown Devil, won the Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull Stakes (G2). His best runner to date has been Bird Town, winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes.

Nureyev, the damsire of Capetown Devil, was a top-class miler and outstanding sire of the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Peintre Celebre, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Spinning World, and Miesque, winner of the Dubai Poule D'essai Des Pouliches (Group 1) and dam of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred and outstanding sire Kingmambo.

Trainer Albert Stall cuts Seven Lively Sins back in distance after his 8-length loss to Sabercat in the Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3) at Delta Downs and he could be competitive in today’s race. Prior to the Delta Jackpot, Seven Lively Sins had never been out of the money in three starts including a narrow loss by three-quarters length to Motor City in the Iroquois Stakes (G3).

Stormy Atlantic, the sire of Seven Lively Sins, was a sprinter but he has sired some decent middle-distance runners in Get Stormy, Superior Storm, and Stormello to name a few.

Carson City, the damsire of Seven Lively Sins, was also the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and Stormello, winner of the Hollywood Futurity Stakes (G1), Norfolk Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G2).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pasco Stakes Racing Roundup

For Oby goes to the starting gate today for trainer Pedro Maestre as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $100,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs racetrack.

For Oby comes into the Pasco with a narrow loss by a nose to Ancient Rome in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 3. But jockey Julio Garcia, who rode For Oby in that race, switches his mount to Seven Kind (8-1) who is a long shot I like in today’s race.

Seven Kind finished third in his last race to Algorithms and Consortium, two promising Bernardini colts I profiled in my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook, and if he repeats the form of his last race, he should be competitive.

Adirondack King (4-1) comes into the race with four straight wins at Parx Racing, including a 6-length romp in the Christopher Elser Memorial Stakes, and looks to be very competitive. He also has a good mix of speed and stamina in his pedigree.

Lawyer Ron, the sire of Adirondack King, excelled on the Kentucky Derby trail as a 3-year-old, winning the Southwest Stakes (G3), Risen Star Stakes (G3), Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2). Brocco, the damsire of Adirondack King, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Jostle, the dam of Adirondack King, was an outstanding racer with over $1.3 million in career earnings and winner of the Alabama Stakes (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), and Cotillion Handicap (G2) during her 3-year-old season.

Prospective (7-2) showed nice progression as a 2-year-old until he finished dead last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs on November 5. If you throw out that race, Prospective has two wins, including a 2-length romp in the Grey Stakes (G3), and a second-place finish for trainer Mark Casse.

A bullet work out on January 1 could indicate that Prospective is ready to run a good race and if he returns to his previous form, he could be competitive in the Pasco.

Malibu Moon, the sire of Prospective, only raced twice until he was retired with a slab fracture. But at stud, Malibu Moon has produced some nice sprint and middle-distance horses such as Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Declan’s Moon and Malibu Mint.

Awesome Again, the damsire of Prospective, was a good middle-distance runner that won the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and earned classic honors by winning the Queen’s Plate Stakes, one of the most prestigious races in Canada.

Good luck with your picks.

Friday, January 13, 2012

California Derby Racing Roundup

Trainer Michael Machowsky, looking for his first win in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields this Saturday, enlists the services of Hall of Fame Jockey Russell Baze to ride Hodge, the 9-5 morning favorite in the 97th edition of the 8½-furlong stakes race.

Baze and the late Johnny Longden, a Hall of Fame jockey whose career spanned three decades from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, have won the California Derby a record five times. While a good jockey can elevate a horse’s performance, Hodge has not raced in 51 days and this is his first attempt at covering a route of ground.

After stalking the leader in second-place, Hodge held on to finish third 1¾-lengths behind So Brilliant, winner of the 7-furlong Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) at Hollywood Park on November 24. While Hodge may be competitive in the Derby, I’m not so sure 8½-furlongs is his best distance and there are others I like better in this race.

Russian Greek, the 5-2 morning line second choice, comes into the race with a first-place finish in the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on December 10. I like the grit and determination he showed in that race. Russian Greek rallied from the back of the six-horse field and made a nice surge on the inside rail to get up and win by a neck.

Russian Greek now has two wins and a fifth-place finish in three starts and another move forward off of his last race will make him very competitive.

Russian Greek was sired by Giant’s Causeway, who also sired Battle Force, a young colt I profiled in my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook.

As a 2-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was undefeated in three starts (all at 7-furlongs) winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes. As a 3-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.

Grindstone, the damsire of Russian Greek, won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) en route to victory in the 1996 Kentucky Derby (G1). Grindstone is the sire of the 2004 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Birdstone and he is the grandsire of the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Summer Bird.

Alydar, the sire of Russian Greek’s second dam, most likely would have been the 1978 Triple Crown winner if it had not been for the tenacious victor Affirmed whose duels with Alydar on the road to glory are some of the best in racing history.

The tail female line also has some nice influence. Sand Dollar, the dam of Russian Greek, was not much of a racer but second dam Train Robbery was a multiple stakes winner as well as the third dam, Track Robbery, who was a multiple graded stakes winner of races such as the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and Spinster Stakes (G1) with over $1 million in career earnings.

Russian Greek is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer who holds a record four wins in the California Derby.

Two long shots I like are Reconstruction (8-1), another entry by Hollendorfer, and Unveiled Heat (12-1).

Reconstruction has never been out of the money in three starts and appears to be one of the more consistent colts among this group. He broke his maiden last time out by 1¼-lengths and another move forward off of that effort should make him competitive.

Reconstruction has never run in a route race, but with Broken Vow as his sire and Dixieland Band as the damsire, he should be able to handle the 8½-furlongs of the Derby.

Broken Vow was a competitive middle-distance runner who won such races as the 9-furlong Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G2) and Ben Ali Stakes (G3) and sired the outstanding middle-distance runner Unbridled Belle who had over $1.9 million in career earnings.

Dixieland Band also was a decent middle-distance runner and the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Unveiled Heat is the only young colt in the field that has won at 8½-furlongs. He appears to be an improving colt that finally broke his maiden last time out after seven previous attempts. His last two races have been pretty decent and he retains the services of jockey Abel Cedillo who has a 1-2-0 record in four previous mounts on Unveiled Heat.

If Unveiled Heat continues to improve, he could be competitive at a nice price.