Thoughts on the new $1 million race, shoeing for yearling sales, OCDs and whether yearling videos are useful

Thoughts on the new $1 million race, shoeing for yearling sales, OCDs and whether yearling videos are useful

September 20, 2018

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by Ron Gurfein

Tidbits: Let’s pause a moment. This is a magical time of year with the Red Mile meet and the Lexington sale rapidly approaching. We have lost some wonderful friends that I especially relate to this time of year and want to mention them as they are on my mind as I speak to you — Sam McKee, Geoff Stein, George Berkner, Ole Bach, Angelo Cardin and John Cashman. We lost them all too soon.

My handicapping failed but it revealed two very good horses well worth following to the windows next time out. Kings County, if closer, could have prevailed. Unfortunately, at the start, the world inside him left so Miller had no choice but to retreat to the cheap seats and the view from there is not so good. The colt was beaten more than 15 lengths at the half and rallied to finish fourth, five lengths back. It was an amazing recovery. For sure, he is a top horse.

Yannick Gingras doesn’t make many mistakes and certainly had no choice with Manchego Saturday night, but Trond’s premature move with Phaetosive caused Yannick to challenge Atlanta an eighth-of-a-mile too soon. It worked out well for a very game Phaetosive, who had little trot when she started her charge and out-gamed a tired Manchego at the wire. Manchego will beat those two four out of five tries.

I will lick my wounds and pass on giving an opinion on the Jug, but will resume my attempt at providing you with winners next week.

Domenico and Lindy farm continue to keep my readers cashing with the amazing win of Eurobond in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final at Red Mile with an almost $30 mutuel.

I am really hoping that Tony Alagna et cie. completes the summer’s endeavor and wins the Jug with Stay Hungry and thus wins the pacing Triple Crown.

Sunday Morning there was a large white cowboy hat found floating in Lake Ontario.

David Mattia asks: With Lexington and Harrisburg coming up do you think yearling videos are in anyway useful to the colt buyer or are they simply flashy marketing gimmicks?

“Caveat Emptor” Beware of flashy videos.

There are two sides to this story. To begin with, since retiring, my major source of income is advising on yearling selections for a client (who prefers to remain anonymous). This is why I have to decline helping my readers in this aspect of the business as it would be a definite conflict of interest.

That said, videos are a tremendous aid in my work. There are things you can see in a video you can easily miss in the paddock. Hitting a knee or a shin are both very evident in a video and not necessarily so in person. Therefore my advice is never buy a colt without seeing both the video and the horse up close and personal, but ONLY USE THE VIDEO AS A DETERRENT. NEVER LET A VIDEO PEAK YOUR INTEREST TO THE POINT YOU RAISE YOUR HAND. I am sure I could write a book on all the bad things you can see on film, but remember, many things end up on the cutting room floor. That’s why it’s impossible to buy as a result of a video. They are presenting you with the best creation that can be made from the many shots they have of each horse and they are very good at what they do. Some outfits are slicker than others, that’s why I say let the buyer beware. I have a lot of theories on videos that would be unfair to put in print as they are opinion not fact that is why I cannot stress enough is that you see a horse in person prior to the sale.

Nick Salvi asks: After our little texting session in regard to the new $1 million 2-year-old trot at the Red Mile what are your thoughts?

To begin with, I think the idea is wonderful. My first question was what happens if there are 15 buyers. Nick has informed me they draw by lot. My feeling is that this will be a rich man’s game and the people involved don’t really care about the $100,000 entry fee. Therefore, why not put on a show and say the more the merrier. Twenty entries would make the race a $2 million event (i.e. more publicity). In ancient times, the Hambletonian has gone with as many as 20 behind the gate. There’s no better time to revert to old ways than for an event like this. I am not saying there will be 20, but why not go with whatever you can garner?

Now that I have presented what most of you will think is an insane idea, here is a logical question: Why after creating this wonderful new and highly successful Sires Stakes program in Kentucky would you schedule this race on the same day and create a major problem for the finalists in the 2-year-old trots? I would eliminate the Bluegrass or International Stallion and race it on Futurity Day.

Charles Foster asks: Dear Guru, now that yearling season is upon us, do you have any reservations on purchasing a colt that had OCDs removed? Do you have any thoughts as to whether a minor cartilage lesion in the hock is best addressed thru surgery or rest?

I personally have no problem at all buying a colt with an OCD removed. To me, I prefer that it was done so I don’t have to lose the time. However, I would make sure there is no residual damage before I start bidding. If the joint looks relatively normal and contains no heat don’t give it a second thought. However, if you are not experienced enough to determine the joint is calm please ask someone who is.

To the second part of your question, the last place I want to operate on a horse is the hock. It is a very complex joint and subject to way more complications than an ankle or a knee. I can’t give you a blanket answer to your question, but I would err on the side of caution. Ask the opinion of a vet that is not a surgeon. Never ask a surgeon if you should operate.

I asked Dr John Cummins about it and he basically agreed with me. However, he said that if there is distinct joint effusion he would definitely advise operating.

Laura Young (GM Southwind Farm LLC) asks: We have switched from steel to aluminum shoes presenting our yearlings. I have had many positive comments. One comment was that the steel shoe causes unwanted stress causing soreness. If you had a colt going to the sale in six weeks what would you put on?

I have spent a lifetime with the greatest farm managers that ever lived and no two have ever done the same thing all the time. You cannot shoe 20 yearlings the same way and have them all look good.

To begin answering the question, I completely disagree with the idea that aluminum is less stressful than steel. In my opinion, it is just the opposite. Aluminum grabs the ground too much and has a jarring effect on the entire leg. A light steel shoe will slide a bit on the ground and be easier on the colt. For sale purposes, I would video in the shoe that makes the colt look best and to be honest I wouldn’t change for the sale as it may help an inexperienced trainer in getting your colt to the races. Some farms shoe in front, others all around. I don’t think it matters to the average buyer.

Thanks again to all my readers for the kind words. Hope to see many of you in Lexington for the sale and the Grand Circuit meet. Have a wonderful week.

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