Can Greenshoe go in 1:48? Plus, how to correct 2-year-olds hitting their hocks and sore in the knees

Can Greenshoe go in 1:48? Plus, how to correct 2-year-olds hitting their hocks and sore in the knees

July 19, 2019

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by Ron Gurfein

Tidbits: What a night of racing at the Meadowlands. Shartin N races 1 1⁄8 miles and still wins on the front end. She is the toughest pacing mare I have ever seen. Atlanta goes 1 1⁄8 against the boys and loses, no harm done. Greenshoe never disappoints, another awesome performance. Will be in the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in August.

Michelle Crawford did a fabulous interview prior to the first race on the card on her Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace night.

It would be great if the race would go for a million dollars. The show was certainly worth that. Maybe add a sponsor or raise the payments. Do not, under any means, think I am suggesting that the Crawford’s put up the balance. They have already done more than enough for our sport.

They don’t come any classier than Brian Sears. After winning the Meadowlands Pace he said, “I was just happy to win for Linda and Brad. In my opinion two of the nicest people on the planet.”

On the subject of the Meadowlands Pace, how amazing was the mile Bettors Wish went. Because one of the owners is a close friend I was rooting for him and when Dexter Dunn came first up I was saying we’re dead. What a game performance. I don’t want to take anything away from the winner, but I felt serious praise was due the second-place finisher.

Cheers to Ray Schnittker for exposing the beard story of Marks and Dowse at Pocono. When I made a tongue in cheek reference to the training prowess of Gareth Dowse comparing him to Jimmy Takter, I knew, and so did every track owner I spoke to what was going on. Where in hell are the New York and Pennsylvania Racing commissions? Why are their heads in the sand? They all have investigators. There is always a paper trail. Do your jobs.

I have bought my share of fancy-going fillies in my time. The three most talented in the field were Vernon Bluechip, Miss Wisconsin and Bit of Candy, but none of them compared to a filly I watched last year at Hunterton Farm. Her name was Crucial, a beautiful daughter of Father Patrick out of the Muscle Hill mare Jolene Jolene. Her price of $200,000 was a bit out of range for me, but I loved her, nonetheless.

After watching her qualifier Saturday morning I am not sure that the price wasn’t well merited. Best of luck to the Burkes and their partners racing this wonderful filly.

I hope the harness racing world appreciates the amazing efforts of Joseph Pennachio to keep our sport in south Florida. He has been a major advocate for many years and is giving it his all now that it is in serious jeopardy.

All who know me are aware of my affinity for good food. With what looks like the imminent revival of Illinois racing I am looking forward to a return to DuQuoin and the re-emergence of the World Trotting Derby. With this marvelous event comes a chance to enjoy one of the best kept epicurean secrets in the country. Just a short distance from Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, and the closest area to DuQuoin to find a motel, is a sleepy little town called Herrin. There you will find Mary’s restaurant, in a house with no signs and as fine a menu as you could wish for. I have seen governors, senators, and congressman as well as George Steinbrenner, Lou Guida, and Charles Sylvester dining there. If your chance arrives don’t miss it.

Jason Ash asks: I have a nice 2-year-old trotter that won both qualifiers and in his first two starts made breaks because he was hitting his hocks above the boots. Any thoughts on how to get him cleaned up?

Before you start fooling with his gait, try this: Change from boots to brace bandages and have your harness shop make a leather or rubber hock protector that is long enough to be half under the bandage and still cover the hock. If it’s not long enough the first time he hits it he will pull it out from the bandages. Don’t be afraid to make the bandage tight. The change from boots should widen out his stride enough to clean him up. There is a 90 per cent chance this will work. If we fall to the 10 per cent two things that will definitely work, first lighten him up in front by 2 ounces for example from a 9/16” half round to a 1⁄2” half round. Your blacksmith will know what I mean. Then your next step would be to stop him short behind you can achieve this by raising his angle and adding an aluminum shoe. There is literally no chance that these things won’t work, good luck.

D. Romano asks: Please refresh my memory if you can. Did Bo Scott’s Blue Chip beat Cam Fella in the Monticello Classic? Why do trotters step up when the trainer elects to pull their shoes? What about pulling shoes on pacers?

On Aug. 8, 1982 not only did Bo Scott’s Bluechip defeat the 1-5 Cam Fella, he did it by 9 1⁄2 lengths in the Monticello Classic VIII. Bo was driven by Jimmy Allen and went wire-to-wire. Cam was driven by Pat Crowe.

Not all trotters can trot barefoot. Horses that need a nominal amount of weight in their shoe to stay trotting are likely to pace when their shoes are pulled. If you are lucky enough to have a great-gaited horse then it’s just a matter of physics why removing his shoes (at least 7 ounces of weight) will help. Barefoot, a horse’s stride becomes shorter and more efficient getting over the ground quicker and therefore going faster.

The Meadowlands added a new graphic Saturday night that showed that Hannelore Hanover and Swandre the Giant would race without shoes. Both were terrific.

I have seen trainers pull shoes on pacers, mainly at the Red Mile where the surface is so forgiving. I have never taken note of it helping. The pacing gate is so different and unless a pacer has a severely heavy shoe which is quite unusual, (they wear very light steel swedges or aluminum shoes) I can’t see going barefoot of any advantage.

Neil Zelkin asks: I am still tingling from Greenshoe’s performance in the Dancer. What are the odds that an elimination or the final of the Hambletonian go under the 1:50 mark? When the Grand Circuit comes to the Red Mile Do you think he is capable of 1:48?

I am the “Guru” not Carnac the Magnificent (Johnny Carson). There are so many variables track condition, weather, competition etc. if Michel Lachance were in the bike I would like the chances more as he makes speed. Brian Sears is a finesse driver and although there is no doubt in my mind that the colt has the ability to trot in 1:48 or 1:49, he never guns this colt from the gate. Fast first halves set up world records, so he will be at the mercy of the movement in the race. As for the Red Mile, it’s not that much faster than the Meadowlands is today and under normal circumstances it will be a lot hotter on the first Saturday in August in New Jersey than in early October in Lexington, KY. He is a wonderful colt to watch. Let’s not worry about world records and hope the colt stays sound and healthy throughout the year. Sometime, somewhere he will put up the numbers.

Harrison LeVan asks: What are your favorite remedies for a 2-year-old trotting colt getting sore in his knees? He is a large horse and still growing.

All 2-year-old trotters are sore in their knees. It’s a matter of how sore and what the horse has accomplished thus far. There is a big difference how you approach the question until you tell me the colt is training or racing.

If a colt gets very sore in July and he still isn’t racing, the obvious solution is to turn him out. Two-year-old bones are very porous and if they are noticeably sore, especially in a big colt, without racing you are asking for trouble by going on.

On the other hand, this is a business and if the colt is racing and gets a little sore we must try to remedy the problem. As the season is very long, you do have some time.

Please make note that if you are not sure that this is a colt that could be competitive in the Breeders Crown or Valley Victory, don’t waste time and money going on as my solution will be a bit pricey.

My only solution would be as follows: Shut the colt down completely for two weeks, no jogging, no paddock, hand walk the second week if he is calm enough to attempt it. Have your vet inject the upper and lower joints with a hyaluronic acid of his choice, three weeks in a row. At the beginning of the third week you can resume jogging for a week and then try a moderate training to see what you have achieved. If the colt is repairable, this will work. If not, there is always next year. Please don’t let anyone talk you into a quick fix like cortisone injections or shock wave therapy as they will work short term and more likely than not hurt a 2-year-old in the long run.

Thanks to all of you for your kind words. I am glad I got so much nice feedback on my things I miss segment. I really enjoyed writing it, and actually got a note from my daughter Lauren giving me the thumbs up. I am going to attempt a column on My Hambletonian Memories for the big dance weekend. I will also handicap the race for you, which right now looks too easy, but it’s never as easy as it appears. Great racing again this weekend at the Meadowlands lots of 2-year-old action and the eliminations for the Adios at the Meadows along with some Sires Stake races on an afternoon card. Please keep the questions coming and have a wonderful week.

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