May - July 2015 - issue 36
CLICK ON THE COVER TO ORDER THIS BACK ISSUE IN PRINT
Rick Violette Jr. thought about becoming a lawyer or entering politics when he was a student at Lowell University in his native Massachusetts. When he wasn't studying or attending class, he showed hunters and jumpers for a client who also owned racehorses. That was how his romance with the racetrack began.
In our sport -- the greatest of them all -- we have many creatures of various descriptions and talents who actively join together in the teams competing in each race. Unique among them is the amazing non-human who naturally and instinctively competes.
Bill Hartack didn’t suffer fools well. And he hated to be called Willie. Legend has it that it was because he was no fan of his contemporary, the great Willie Shoemaker.
A six-foot tall Kentucky-bred racetracker, J. Larry Jones is easy to spot in the mornings, his long legs dangling in long stirrups, straddling one of his Thoroughbreds in training, or supervising his stable from a Western saddle on the back of one of his Quarter Horse ponies.
Ask two dozen trainers how they prepare horses for their first career start and you’ll get 24 different answers. Variety, as California trainer Peter Miller points out, may be a good thing: “If it was all the same, it would be quite boring.”
Over the last two decades the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) in England has funded substantial research to understand how various body systems respond to training. For example, because of this HBLB investment we now know that the hearts of Thoroughbred racehorses get bigger as a response to athletic training and that big hearts are typically associated with better performers.
Stress fractures not only lead to training interruptions but if they are not identified early and managed appropriately they can be associated with subsequent catastrophic fractures. Stress fractures of the humerus, tibia, ilium and cannon bone (aka third metacarpal bone or McIII) are most common. Stress fractures are a late stage on a pathway of stress-related bone injury.
What Emma Stone’s character says in Birdman could be what fans are saying to the powers that be in horseracing: Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist!
Trainers around the world have widely varying ideas on training methods, feeding regimes and riding tactics, and these opinions can even differ between neighbouring professionals using the same facilities. But one thing that handlers will unanimously agree upon is the vital importance of a competent team of work riders. As South Africa’s James Maree from the Work Riders Development Programme puts it, "I know and all trainers know that if you get to the track in the morning and you haven’t got a decent work rider, you may as well go home. Without that, you just can’t do anything."
In winning the Vodacom Durban July, the 28-year-old Zulu became the first black jockey in history to win South Africa’s most famous race. The timing could not have been better. As the 20 runners headed down towards the ten-furlong start, the minds of the 55,000-strong Greyville crowd were far from a last-minute flutter on this prestigious Group 1 contest.
This year's Triple Crown preps were notable for producing a number of high-class contenders, and, coincidently, it was the first year of mostly all-dirt trials since major tracks in California, Kentucky, and Dubai abandoned synthetic surfaces for the real thing.