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ISSUE 47 – SPRING SP 2018 $5.95 www.trai



Unbridled passion for his horses RO GER AT TFIE LD Canada’s eight-time leading trainer





Be a


suppose we could call this our Canadian issue. We didn’t plan it this way, though -- it just happened! We’re delighted to bring you an exclusive, and certainly rare, interview with leading owner Chuck Fipke, who just picked up an Eclipse Award for his homebred mare Forever Unbridled. Perhaps the interview is as rare as one of the diamonds he mines, but one thing is for sure, it makes compelling reading. Frances J. Karon was able to gain unique access to Fipke’s world in Kelowna, British Columbia, from where Fipke not only directs the day-to-day operations of the business he is synonymous with but also controls his boutique breeding and racing operation. On the training side we profile one of the friendliest and most respected Canadian-based trainers in Roger Attfield, who splits his time between South Florida in the winter and Woodbine in the summer. Coincidentally, Attfield’s only Breeders’ Cup winner to date is Fipke’s homebred Perfect Shirl. It’s hard to believe that Attfield is now 78, and while his presence on the racetracks of North America seems like an eternity, his charm and debonair style is still the same as it was decades ago when training horses became his calling. Different training methods and ideas are always of interest to the editorial team here at Trainer, so it should be of no surprise that we interview Norman McKnight, who, at the end of last year, won his first-ever trainers’ championship at Woodbine, having come to Thoroughbred racing from the Standardbred circuit. McKnight’s trajectory to the upper echelons of Canadian racing is certainly eye-opening stuff. As recently as 2014 and 2015, his barn was fielding 30-something winners a season, but in 2017 that number increased to 99. This winter, he makes his first foray down south to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he is stabling at Oaklawn Park. Finally, our last connection to the Canadian theme is a look back at the legacy of El Prado who, thanks to the “imported” Canadian bloodstock guru Dermot Carty, ended up being purchased by another “imported” Canadian in Frank Stronach. If it hadn’t been for these two gentlemen, there is every chance that this most amazing son of Sadler’s Wells may well have never have made the mark he has on the contemporary North American breed. Last but not least is a big thank you to all of you who reached out to congratulate Denise Steffanus on her recent Eclipse Award win. We know that her article on “a call for common sense in testing,” which covered drug-related contamination on the backstretch, resonated widely, and we naturally hope that her findings and the subsequent rule changes make all trainers’ lives that much easier to bear. Wherever your racing takes you this spring -- good luck!


of the North Breed



iN miNNesota For more info contact: Minnesota Thoroughbred Association

952.233.4802 952.496.7950



Editorial Director/Publisher Giles Anderson (1 888 218 4430) Editor Frances J. Karon (@francesjkaron) Design ATG Media Editorial/Photo Management Suzy Stephens (1 888 659 2935) Advert Production Shae Hardy Circulation/Website Anna Alcock (1 888 659 2935) Advertising Sales Giles Anderson, Oscar Yeadon 1 888 218 4430 Photo Credits: Alamy, Michael Burns, Peter Clegg, Coady Photography, Eclipse Sportswire, Lisa Grimm, Dr. Chuck Jenkins, Frances J. Karon, AnneArmelle Langlois, Zoe Metz, Suzy Picou Oldham, Primus, Shutterstock, Matt Wooley Cover Photograph Eclipse Sportswire

Trainer Magazine is published by Anderson & Co Publishing Ltd. Contact details Tel: 1 888 659 2935 Fax: 1 888 218 4206 North America PO Box 13248, Lexington, KY 40583-3248 United Kingdom 14 Berwick Courtyard, Berwick St Leonard, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3 5UA

Trainer Magazine is the official magazine of the California Thoroughbred Trainers. It is distributed to all ‘Trainer’ members of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and all members of the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, as well as all members of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association

Education Ed cati tii ! Integrity I t it Service

Frances J. Karon (@francesjkaron). Frances is from Puerto Rico and is a graduate of Colby College in Maine with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky, and specializes in sales and pedigree research.

Ed Golden is the author of Santa Anita’s widely acclaimed “Stable Notes,” hailed by peers as “the best in racing.” A native of Philadelphia, he earned Eclipse Award honourable mention while with the Philadelphia Daily News and has written for The Blood-Horse and USA Today.

Keith McCalmont. Keith is the Communications Manager for Woodbine Entertainment. In addition to public relations duties and creating content for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, Keith is also an awardwinning freelance writer with contributions to numerous North American publications. You can find Keith on Twitter and Instagram @TripleDeadHeat.

Sid Fernando (@sidfernando) is president of eMatings LLC and Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc. He is the former bloodstock editor of Daily Racing Form and also blogs about racing and breeding.

Dr. Catherine Dunnett BSc, PhD, R. Nutr. is an independent nutritionist registered with the British Nutrition Society. She has a background in equine research, in the field of nutrition and exercise physiology, with many years spent at The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. Prior to setting up her own consultancy business, she worked in the equine feed industry on product development and technical marketing. Alan F. Balch was hired as Executive DIrector of California Thoroughbred Trainers in April 2010. His professional career in racing began at Santa Anita in 1971, where he advanced to the position of Sr. Vice PresidentMarketing and Assistant General Manager, and was in charge of the Olympic Games Equestrian Events in Los Angeles in 1984. He retired in the early ‘90s to become volunteer president of the National Equestrian Federation of the USA, as well as of the National Horse Show of Madison Square Garden. He remains president of USA Equestrian Trust, Inc. Denise Steffanus, 2017 Eclipse award winner, freelance writer, and editor based in Cynthiana, Kentucky. A longtime contributor editor for Thoroughbred Times, she earned the prestigious Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award and the USA Equestrian (now the U.S Equestrian Federation) Award for Media Excellence. Steffanus, a Pittsburgh native, is a licensed Thoroughbred racehorse trainer and a member of American Mensa.

Bill Heller. Eclipse Award-winning author Bill Heller’s 26th book, “Politics and Horses; The Fascinating Life of Howard Nolan,” was published this summer. His previous books include biographies of Hall of Fame jockeys Ron Turcotte, Randy Romero and Jose Santos. Heller’s son, Benjamin, finished 1,824th in his first Boston Marathon in April in a field of more than 27,000 runners. Alex Campbell. Alex is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada, covering Woodbine Racetrack. He earned the Jockey of Club of Canada’s Sovereign Award for Outstanding Writing in 2013. His work has appeared in the Daily Racing Form, The Blood-Horse, Canadian Thoroughbred, and Harness Racing Update. Emma Hardy. Dr. Emma Hardy has been European Marketing Manager for Freedom Health LLC since joining the company in 2009. A British Society of Animal Science and a registered Animal Technologist. Emma achieved her undergraduate degree in BSc Equine Sports Science (1st Class Hons) in 2003 from the University of Lincoln, then went on to be accepted onto a Research Internship with Kentucky Equine Research, USA. Peter Clegg. Peter qualified from the University of Cambridge in 1987 and spent four years working in equine practice. He then completed a Residency in Equine Surgery at the Royal Veterinary College in 1994 obtaining the RCVS Certificate in Equine Orthopaedics during this time. In 2003, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Fellowship to undertake research into cartilage repair in conjunction with the University of Manchester. Peter is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and a RCVS Specialist in Equine Surgery.

Trainer Magazine (ISSN 17580293) is published 4 times a year, February, May, August and November by Anderson & Co Publishing and distributed in the USA by UKP Worldwide, 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Periodicals postage paid at Rahway, NJ and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Trainer Magazine, Anderson & Co Publishing C/O 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield NJ 07080






There it was again. A trainer’s worst nightmare. Suddenly not just one, but two of his best horses were bleeding from EIPH (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage). They were in danger of being banned from racing, even though they were still in their prime. Lasix (Salix) isn’t an option. The trainer was at a loss. What can be done? EIPH is a rough deal for any trainer, horse owner, and horse. After all, it can lead to poor performance, lost training days, costly treatments, or worse — a very sick horse that’s banned from racing for life. Facing these concerns for two of his horses, the trainer (who asked us to withhold his name for competitive reasons) was willing to try anything. So, he searched for another option. He gave his horses an alternative to bleeder drugs and treatments; something he had read about called BleederGard. This natural respiratory horse supplement helps control bleeding. It is just as effective in improving the health and performance of bleeders but without any of those “drug issues” that come with most race-day bleeder medications. “I used BleederGard paste on two horses that had been bleeding. Now, neither horse has bled. This is a great product; it saved the careers of two very good horses.”

The Science Behind BleederGard To understand how BleederGard works, we looked at a controlled study run by veterinarians at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. They investigated the effects of the active ingredient in BleederGard, yunnan baiyao, which has been shown to help reduce bleeding in people and animals. The veterinary team wanted to see how this active ingredient specifically affected bleeding in horses. They measured template bleeding times in horses before and after receiving a supplement with the active ingredient. The researchers reported that the supplement significantly reduced bleeding time. They concluded that the active ingredient in BleederGard was effective at minimizing blood loss in horses.1 What surprised us the most about BleederGard is its effectiveness without the use of drugs. Having a drug-free option is critical in countries that ban most race-day EIPH medications, like Lasix/Salix. There’s a serious need NOW for a natural solution that can help control bleeding in performance horses. Trainers and owners alike are impressed with the results they are seeing from BleederGard. One winning trainer told us: “I have horses that bleed and when I use this product I have no problems. I’m sure there are a lot of products on the market but I stand behind this one all the way.” Now you can improve the health of your horses while protecting the investment in their racing careers. With the results from the scientific studies, you can expect BleederGard to reduce bleeding events in horses during intense exercise… repair damaged blood vessels … and provide support for normal lung function and normal blood flow.2 Best of all, BleederGard is easy AND affordable. It could be the smartest investment you make to avoid pricey problems related to EIPH. It’s well worth the small price to avoid a banning risk or losing a great horse. A company spokesperson confirmed an exclusive offer for Trainer readers: if you order BleederGard this month, you'll receive $10 off your first order with promo code TRAIN10. Order today at or by calling 800-780-4331. 1 2

Graham L. et al. J Vet Emerg Crit Care. 12:4 (2002) 279-282. Graham L. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 2006.



48 20




CONTENTS F E AT U R E S 10 Roger Attfield: Showing no signs of slowing down

The eight-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer in profile, by Alex Campbell.

20 Diamonds are forever

Frances J. Karon profiles diamond explorer Chuck Fipke, the breeder of Forever Unbridled.

54 Career makers


60 Is EIPH beyond the scope

06 08

Dr. Catherine Dunnett examines whether EIPH can be controlled by a horse’s diet.


Jockeys’ successes depend heavily on their behindthe-scenes, often colorful, agents, by Ed Golden.

of dietary change?

66 Tendon function and failure

32 Practical tips for

Professor Peter Clegg with a crash course on tendons and how a greater understanding of their function will be a force for major advances.

Denise Steffanus has some advice for trainers traveling horses overseas.

72 Norm KcKnight:

international travels

38 The Legacy of El Prado

The extraordinary impact of El Prado, by Keith McCalmont.

48 From fertility to foal

What are the nutrition requirements for breeding stock to best benefit foals? By Emma Hardy.

@ train e r_ mag


Alan F. Balch TRM Trainer of the Quarter The Sid Fernando Column

Woodbine’s leading trainer

Alex Campbell on the trainer who ended Mark Casse’s 10-year-long run at the top of the Woodbine trainer standings.

76 More great reasons to race and breed in Pennsylvania

A report on some exciting developments in the Pennsylvania racing industry, by Linda Dougherty.

/ t rai ner magaz i n e



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IT’S AMAZING... t’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.” This saying has come to me often in the weeks since Thursday, December 7, 2017, when a catastrophic wildfire claimed the lives of scores of racehorses at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall, California. Several hundred others throughout the area were successfully evacuated to Del Mar and elsewhere amidst the chaos. Dozens of horsemen were injured in one way or another trying to save their animals, three of them seriously, including one grievously. Different leaders in politics and sports have had this aphorism attributed to them, including most prominently American presidents Harry S Truman and Ronald Reagan, as well as coach John Wooden. Indira Gandhi offered a companion idea, “My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.” Without any concern about getting credit for their generosity and work, response to this tragedy from the world’s racing and broader equestrian community has been staggering. And fulfilling. It renews one’s sense of pride in our sport and all our stakeholders. In the goodness of people generally, their love of horses and of those who care for them. From the moments when the nearby smoke was first sighted, throughout that day and night, and since then, all antique and modern communication methods were mobilized. First, to fight the fire and to attempt evacuations. These were hours of anguish and then heartbreak, little understood by those who have never seen or experienced a wind-whipped California wildfire, and its random, unconquerable devastation. Then, immediate and unhesitating welcome and management by the leadership of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Thoroughbred Club, to receive hundreds of horses with impeccable organization, commitment, and skill. Veterinarians, van drivers, and a flotilla of equestrians with horse trailers united in the effort. As a sleepless night then fell, countless citizens and leaders of




the sport alike went to work all that night long, separately, independently, and then together, to organize the relief effort that would follow. When dawn broke Friday, the Del Mar Stable Gate was virtually overwhelmed by the general public: horse lovers from every point of the compass had simply arrived to help, offering to do anything from mucking stalls, to feeding, to walking to ... anything asked of them as volunteers. They brought with them their own grooming and mucking supplies, tons of carrots, blankets, clothing, toiletries, feed, buckets, halters, lead ropes, and all the rest. The horses were first in mind; nor were their caretakers forgotten, either. Brass from California’s racing associations, horsemen’s organizations, and regulators, convened informally on the backstretch to organize and divide


duties and responsibilities. This effort itself was mammoth, given that every aspect of the sport’s governance had roles to play, from identifying and reuniting lost horses with trainers, to commencing fund-raising for relief of the afflicted, to ensuring the best medical care possible for those injured, whether human or equine. Not to mention determining how to return to training and racing routines. Virtually everyone involved was on his or her best behavior. Questions and disagreements (and there were many) rarely resulted in even a raised voice or an accusatory tone, which is quite astounding since we in racing are so accustomed to that! Very, very few adhered to our painful past performances. Overnight, two strains of thinking on essential fund-raising for relief had taken

shape, and they merged as one before noon that day. Two racing associations led the effort to arrange an Internet GoFundMe account, and launched it in response to overwhelming public demand. The California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, the statutory organization for backstretch welfare in the state, stood ready to receive and raise more dedicated funds and disburse them. Small supervisory groups were formed with representatives of horsemen, management, and regulator. The result was over $1 million in funding and supplies in less than a month, including the holiday period. Without citing President Truman’s maxim, or perhaps just sensing it without even knowing about it, one prominent horseman had already stepped forward. He insisted on anonymity, and asked how he could fund an immediate and significant cash infusion himself for each member of the backstretch community at San Luis Rey from the destroyed barns, without benefit of tax deductions and organizational support, in order to provide the benefit more quickly. After a weekend of administrative labor to reconstruct all the worklists, those funds were disbursed individually within a few days. Others immediately sent truckloads of tack, supplies, and living essentials (and even luxuries) for the backstretch community. The backstretch at San Luis Rey is a microcosm of the sport, mixing trainers of the smallest barns with ever bigger ones, all the way up to the mega-stables. How to fairly, efficiently (and especially quickly) allocate cash and other relief throughout this disparate community, among those simply inconvenienced by the evacuation as well as those whose barns, businesses, livestock, and even health were destroyed, became the paramount concerns. For those directly affected, this was literally a life-changing event, and no amount of relief, cash, and well wishes can overcome the pain, sorrow, and actual losses. But it did affirm, for all the world to see, the commitment of horsemen to each other, and their brave dedication and love of their horses above all else.


w w w. t r m i re l a n d i n c . c o m


JAS O N SERVIS The TRM Trainer of the Quarter has been won by Jason Servis. Servis and his team will receive a selection of products from the internationally acclaimed range of TRM supplements, as well as a bottle of fine Irish whiskey.

Bill Heller

Eclipse Sportswire

he start of a new year did no othing to slow the momentum of 60-year-old trainer Jason Servis. He headed into February just 20 wins shy of a 1,000th career victory thanks to a sensational 2017 campaign, when he posted career highs in earnings, victories, and starts. And his legitimate Kentucky Derby contender, Firenze Fire, already has a step up on his rivals, having captured his three-year-old debut. Though he may lack a national presence, Servis has a phenomenal career win percentage of 23.3, with 980 winners victories in 4,211 starts. “Life is great, I was telling myself when I was out on my stable pony the other morning,” Servis said on February 1st. “I had my son (Garrett, 29) with me. I said, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.’” At the start of his lifetime with horses, he wasn’t getting paid much. And he didn’t even mind. “My dad ended up a steward at Charles Town. That’s where I cut my teeth. No money. But they were the good old days. My dad made me. I learned the straight and narrow. Work hard. Keep your nose clean.” It’s not only worked for Jason, but also for his younger brother John, who guided Smarty Jones to a career that came up one length short of winning the 2004 Triple Crown. Servis started out as a jockey before he conceded to his size and weight. Next, he worked as an exercise rider and assistant trainer for Peter Fortay in the mornings and in the jockeys’ room in the afternoons at Monmouth Park.




In his first year as a trainer, he saddled just one horse. “I didn’t start training until I was 43,” he said. “I had seen a lot. It was a very good education for me.” In his first full year of training in 2002, he won 14 races from 71 starts, just under 20 percent. Two years later, his brother John had the horse of a lifetime in Smarty Jones, whose victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes left him eight-foreight. “I’ll never forget, I was just sitting at the kitchen table by myself at a quarter to five the day after the Derby,” Jason said. “And I’m looking at these roses my wife had taken. I can’t believe my brother won

the Kentucky Derby. We were on the track our whole lives.” On the day after Smarty Jones won the Preakness, John, Jason, and their father were at Pimlico. “John did ‘Good Morning America’ and other interviews,” Jason said. “We were in such a fog from the race. It was overwhelming. We were kind of dazed. We couldn’t get the car started.” There was a good reason. They were in the wrong car. Talking about Smarty Jones’ second by a length in the Belmont Stakes is still painful for Jason Servis. You can hear it in his voice. “Gosh, I was really sad for my brother,” he said. “It was like someone beat him up.”

w w w. t r m i re l a n d i n c . c o m

Maybe he can avenge that loss on behalf of his brother. Firenze Fire is now the winner of four-of-six starts, including the Grade 1 Champagne and Grade 3 Sanford Stakes, and the Poseidon’s Warrior colt started 2018 off right with a win in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. In 2017, Servis won 112 races and $4.9 million – 23rd in the country – from 391 starts, and it proved to be his most successful season to date, with Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire providing him with his first Grade 1, and Gary and Mary West’s Actress winning two graded stakes races. He split his 50-horse stable at Belmont Park in New York and Payson Park in Florida this winter. “I could have more horses,” he said, but I think maybe less is worth more. I like to keep my hands on my horses.” His philosophy is simple. “I developed a program from galloping horses,” he said. “Keep your horses happy. Once they’re fit, stay out of their way.”


Firenze Fire winning the Sanford Stakes






Eclipse Sportswire







t 78 years old, Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield is still at the top of his game, showing no signs of slowing down. “While I’m well and healthy and enjoying it, I’ll keep on doing it,” Attfield said. “I enjoy the horses. I always have. I’m still enjoying the people and my owners that I’m working with, so there’s no reason not to.” While some people are born into the sport, Attfield developed a love of horses all on his own. Born in England to Leslie, a coal merchant, and Gladys, a stayat-home mother, in 1939, he grew up in the town of Newbury. Attfield said that as a child, he would often venture off with a group of Gypsies that made their home just outside of his village. “The Romaners used to come up and camp on the village green, and still do apparently,” Attfield said. “They used to come up there with donkeys and goats, and when I was very young I followed them up. They sort of befriended me up there. My parents went mad when they found me because they thought they were stealing me. I fell in love with animals, and especially horses, from a very early age.” This love of horses led him to a riding school. His parents didn’t have the means to pay for lessons, so Attfield funded them himself by working for farmers in the area. “I started riding for some local farmers that had ponies kicking around,” Attfield said. “I used to do a milk round and I used to go ferreting for rabbits and sell the rabbits to the village and the local butchers to get enough money to go to the riding school.” As Attfield got older, he moved into competitive riding. He started with show horses and eventually raced steeplechase horses as a teenager, where he won the juvenile steeplechase championship in 1955 at 16 years of age. The next year, he enrolled in the Berkshire Institute of Agriculture, where he specialized in farm management. Once he finished his education, Attfield started his own training and breeding business, while also riding show jumpers at the same time. But as he moved into his 30s, Attfield was finding it tough to get by, even while competing in international equestrian competitions. In 1970, he made the decision to move to Canada in search of greener pastures. “It’s pretty hard to make a living, no matter how well you’re doing, riding jumpers and show jumpers,” he said. “You had to sell the odd horse every now and then to make ends meet and you’re working really, really hard. That was getting to be a little tedious, and I didn’t see how I was going to do much better financially.” Attfield had established a good foundation in the horse business during his time in England. “A number of the people that I rode for were horse and cattle dealers, and they were just true farmers and horse people,” he said. “I used to go around sales and ride for a lot of these horse dealers that were really, really good horse people. I was always asking them questions and listening to conversations. I was always surrounding myself with some pretty good older horse people that really knew horses.” Attfield said it was easy to spot the differences in horseracing between England and Canada once he made his first visit to Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.






WHILE I’M WELL AND HEALTHY AND ENJOYING IT, I’LL KEEP ON DOING IT. “When I first came over, I went down to the track with Frank Stronach one morning,” he said. “It was an eye opener for me as opposed to how we train horses in England. I was going into a situation where there’s riders and hotwalkers and grooms. Back home, somebody would do two or three horses and do everything with them.” Attfield said he initially gave himself three years in Canada before he was going to move back to England. His first job at Woodbine was as a freelance exercise rider, but he quickly moved into training himself. He was given the opportunity to spend one season at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal with Stronach’s trainer Fred Loschke, but when the meet at Blue Bonnets ended, Attfield wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue in racing. “I was very upset with that whole situation,” Attfield said. “The racing wasn’t that good and it wasn’t all that honest, actually. I got away from horses for a whole year.” Attfield took a job working at a unisex boutique with a dozen locations between Moncton and Calgary, and he was responsible for purchasing inventory and organizing the store designs. After about a year there, he was given an opportunity to get back into training, for Stronach and Roy Kennedy, who owned Gateway Farms. “My love was really horses,” Attfield said. “I just proved to myself I could do something else. Frank had offered me a private job, but he didn’t have that many horses at the time. It was decided he and Roy Kennedy would pool their horses and I would do the job.” The partnership would dissolve a short time later, but Attfield continued to train for Kennedy for three years before catching on with Charles Baker and Norcliffe Stable in 1975. “That really turned my career around because there was a young horse called Norcliffe, which I thought was a kiss






of death. It usually is,” Attfield said. “He turned out to be a very nice horse.” Attfield won the Coronation Futurity with Norcliffe that first year and went on to record his first Queen’s Plate victory with the son of Buckpasser in 1976. He continued to train for Norcliffe Stable into the 1980s, and then caught another big break in 1985, when he was given the opportunity to train for Bud Willmot’s Kinghaven Farms. Kinghaven was one of the top Canadian stables at the time, and Attfield had the opportunity to train horses like With Approval and Izvestia, who won back-to-back Canadian Triple Crowns in 1989 and 1990. “We had seven or eight years that were wonderful,” Attfield said. “They were breeding some really, really nice animals and I had a really good rapport with the Willmots. The whole thing just worked really, really well. It’s a pleasure doing that with those kinds of people.” Attfield said a big part of the success he’s seen throughout his career has come down to his ability to read and understand horses. “I know I definitely understand horses and dogs better than I understand people,” he said. “Some people have more of a sense of what’s going on inside of a horse’s head and they pick up a little bit quicker on what the horse’s attitude is and why it is that way.” At the track every morning, Attfield climbs aboard a pony and heads out for training.




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“I go out with every set and I basically train horses on what I see every day,” he said. “You can’t train horses all the same way. They’re all different. Some days they’re feeling better than other days obviously, just like a human being, and you’ve got to be able to read into that. You’ve got to be able to read into the fact that some horses maybe you’re overtraining a little bit and some maybe you’re not training enough. It’s just common sense horsemanship, really.” With his riding background, Attfield used to gallop his own horses to get a better sense of where they were in their training. In the late 1980s, Attfield was required to have surgery on his ear, and the aftereffects of three surgeries destroyed his balance, so he decided to stop galloping himself, though he feared that it would affect his ability to be an effective trainer. “I thought that was going to be the end of my career because I felt that unless I could actually get on them and feel them myself, I wouldn’t know how to train them,” he said. “We got used to being able to watch and detect things and it didn’t make any difference at all.” Attfield’s strong sense of horsemanship is continuing to bring him success. In 2008, he matched Harry Giddings Jr.’s record of eight Queen’s Plate wins by a trainer, and



in 2011, he recorded his first Breeders’ Cup victory, with Chuck Fipke’s Perfect Shirl, whose champion sire Perfect Soul he had also trained, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. “It’s something out there that everybody wishes they could win, I’m sure, and it was nice to finally get it done,” he said. “I had been second in it twice, and one of them I felt we should have won. We’ve never had that many Breeders’ Cup horses. Our chances are not as good as some other people, but it was great.” Attfield’s decorated career has seen him earn eight Sovereign Awards as Canada’s outstanding trainer, along with inductions into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, and both the U.S. National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame and Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Those honors mean a lot to a trainer who has recorded more than 1,900 wins, 415 stakes wins, and 116 graded stakes wins to date. “It’s a really, really great honor,” Attfield said. “I’m very proud of it. It’s the icing on the cake for me, really. They also put me in the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, which was also another honor to go in there with Lennox Lewis. I’ve been blessed and very fortunate.”





H E R E !


YOUR PLAYGROUND 9 0 1 S F E D E R A L H I G H WAY I H A L L A N D A L E B E A C H I 9 5 4 . 4 5 4 . 7 0 0 0 I G U L F S T R E A M PA R K . C O M


ECLIPSE AWARD of MERIT R ec i pient o f the prestig i o us Eclip se Award of Mer it , F R A N K S T RO N A CH d el ivered thi s sp e ec h at t he e vent c erem ony at Gu l f stream Park on Jan. 2 5, 201 8

h e r e i s a n o l d s a y i n g, t h e wo r l d i s a s t a g e a n d we a l l play a par t in it. Tonight, t h e s t a g e b e l o n g s to t h e great horses of 2017. We want to c e l e b r a t e a n d h o n o r t h o s e h o r s e s, a n d t h e p e o p l e w h i c h we r e i nvo l ve d w i t h t h o s e h o r s e s – t h e o w n e r s, t r a i n e r s, g ro o m s, j o c k e y s, a n d b re e d e r s, a n d m a n y o t h e r s . Wi t h o u t t h e s e p e o p l e t h e r e w o u l d b e n o h o r s e r a c i n g. I b e l i e ve i t i s l o n g o ve rd u e t h a t t h e NTRA should get an Eclipse Award for organizing and p u t t i n g o n a g re a t s h o w – t o k e e p t h e s p i r i t o f h o r s e racing alive. We also have to realize without racetracks t h e re wo u l d b e n o h o r s e r a c i n g a n d t h e e c o n o m i c s d o n o t l o o k v e r y g o o d f o r r a c e t r a c k s. O n e v e r y t a b l e t h e re i s a c o p y o f my l a t e s t b o o k w h i c h j u s t c a m e o f f t h e p re s s w i t h t h e t i t l e T h e Q u e s t i o n s o f A l l Q u e s t i o n s, Where Did We Come From and Where Are We Going? We have a good idea where horse racing came from, b u t we a s h o r s e p e o p l e n e e d t o s i t d o w n a n d t h i n k a b o u t w h e r e a r e w e g o i n g. I n l i f e y o u h a v e t o l o o k b a c k i n o rd e r t o s e e t h e f u t u re. W h e n we l o o k b a c k a p p r ox i m a t e l y t h i r t y y e a r s t h e b e t t i n g h a n d l e w a s a p proximately 15 billion dollars per year, which would in today ’s dollars be at least 75 billion per year. Right now the betting handle is approximately 11 billion per year. Th i s i s a d r a m a t i c d e c l i n e i n b e t t i n g h a n d l e. H o r s e r a c i n g f a c e s m a ny c h a l l e n g e s, f ro m l o t t e r i e s t o c a s i n o s a n d n o w m o s t l i k e l y s p o r t s g a m i n g. H o r s e s a r e l i k e d a l l o ve r t h e wo r l d, t h e re i s n o p o l i t i c s i nvo l ve d, n o religion. For business people horses are great equalize r s t o c o n n e c t w i t h n a t u re a n d a c h a n c e t o g e t aw ay f ro m m u n d a n e a c t i v i t i e s a n d t h e p re s s u re o f wo r k . The horse has been man’s great friend, and has made a g re a t c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e c i v i l i z a t i o n o f m a n k i n d. Especially, since not that long ago, the American West w a s s e t t l e d re l a t i ve l y q u i c k l y w i t h t h e h e l p o f h o r s e s. People love to have pets. I t connec ts them with nature, f ro m b i rd s t o c a t s t o d o g s. B u t o f l a rg e a n i m a l s t h e h o r s e i s m o s t l o ve d a n d w a n t e d. O f c o u r s e t h e r e a r e a l w a y s e xc e p t i o n s . I k n o w o f a l i t t l e g i r l w h i c h c a m e i n t o t h e p e t s t o re a n d s a i d w i t h a

Canada Dermot Carty (416) 518-1449

s we e t vo i c e, I wo u l d l i k e t o b u y a r a b b i t . sw The sales lady asked her “do you want to Th haave a white rabbit or a black rabbit?” h The little girl said, “my anaconda snake Th dooes not care if it is white or black .” But I d kn n o w m o s t g i r l s l o ve h o r s e s… I re m e m b e r my g r a n d d a u g h t e r w h e n I sat her for the first time on a pony, heer eyes were gleaming – they are still h glleaming. g I a l s o k n o w t h a t h o r s e o w n e r s a re t h e m o s t i n d e p e n d e n t e n t re p re n e u r s. I wo u l d l i k e t o s t a t e h e re, t h e S t ro n a c h G ro u p d o e s n o t s e e k t o d o m i n a t e h o r s e r a c i n g. B u t w e w o u l d l i k e t o i n t e r f a c e w i t h a l l t h e s t a k e h o l d e r s, h o r s e o w n e r s, b re e d e r s, t r a i n ers, jockeys, racetracks, the NTRA and the Jockey Club. I b e l i e ve i f we t h e s t a k e h o l d e r s wo r k t o g e t h e r we c a n g e t h o r s e r a c i n g t o a h i g h e r l e ve l. Th e ye a r 2 0 1 8 , s h o u l d b e t h e ye a r o f t h e h o r s e. I wo u l d l i k e t o i n t e r f a c e w i t h t h e S t a k e h o l d e r s, a n d establish some priorities: 1. We should establish a horse racing Char ter o f R i g h t s. 2. We should establish a marketing plan for the w h o l e i n d u s t r y w i t h t h e f o c u s, h o w d o we g e t yo u n g p e o p l e t o t h e r a c e s. 3 . A re s p o n s i b i l i t y p ro g r a m fo r t h e we l l - b e i n g o f a l l t h e r a c e h o r s e s, d u r i n g a n d a f t e r t h e r a c i n g ye a r s. Th e a b o ve r u l e s a n d p ro g r a m m u s t b e n e f i t a l l t h e s t a k e h o l d e r s a n d m u s t c o m p l y w i t h a n t i - t r u s t re g u l a tions. We the horse racing industr y, must prove cons t a n t l y t o t h e p u b l i c t h a t we o p e r a t e u n d e r t h e h i g h e s t e t h i c a l s t a n d a rd s a n d we m a k e p ro v i s i o n s t h a t h o r s e s are properly cared for. A ny r a c e t r a c k c o u l d j o i n t h i s n e w p ro g r a m p r o v i d i n g t h e y a d h e re t o n e w l y d e s i g n e d r u l e s a n d p ro g r a m s. T h o s e p ro g r a m s wo u l d b e fo r m u l a t e d t o e n h a n c e c o m p e t i t i o n a n d t o i m p r o v e t h e q u a l i t y o f h o r s e r a c i n g. I wo u l d l i k e t o t a k e t h e l e a d i n t h i s n e w i n i t i a t i ve a n d I h o p e t h e h o r s e r a c i n g c o m m u n i t y wo u l d s ay b y t h i s time nex t year, it was justified that Frank Stronach was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit.

Adena Springs

B y Fra n k S t r o n a c h

Kentucky Ken Wilkins (859) 699-4887




Frances J. Karon, Eclipse Sportswire




he kitchen table is in a state of organized chaos. Thick white binders; thin red binders; a threehole punch; scissors; clear tape; paper printouts; a box filled mostly with yellow HB 2 Paper Mate pencils, their erasers worn to the nub. From where Charles “Chuck” Fipke is seated at the table, he need only glance up to see Forever Unbridled’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff trophy. To his left, down the length of the wooden table, is a window bench that was overtaken long ago by more fat white binders, behind a Nikon with an 800mm lens on a tripod. This is where Fipke plans his matings, like the one that produced Eclipse Award-winning champion older female Forever Unbridled. The view through the back window is magnificent: the house backs up to the shore of the Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, British Columbia. And the Nikon is pointed at the top of a tall perch, recently frequented by an osprey, on the dock outside. On the ground, plump quail, unperturbed by a fat squirrel in their midst, peck at the birdseed that Fipke tosses out from a container near the door. The yard, says his son Taylor, the youngest of Fipke’s six children, is “like a mini-ecosystem.” For as long as anyone knows, Fipke has always had this connection with nature, linked with his fearlessness, fervor for adventure, and the methodical approach of a passionate and unwavering workaholic. Listen – you don’t discover diamond mines by accident or luck. Nor has his Thoroughbred breeding operation been run by accident or luck. “In both disciplines (horses and geology), I do my own little research,” he says. “To identify minerals that go with diamonds, I’ve got my ways of doing it. It’s pretty complicated, and I do the same with horses, too.” They’re really not so different, finding diamond mines and breeding champions.

Chuck Fipke was the first of Ed and Anna’s four children, born in Alberta, Canada, in 1946 with independence and a take-charge attitude. Anna was, she says, “always right behind” her young son. “I remember when he was just a little boy and he used to take his little tricycle and go down a hill,” says Anna, “and there was traffic down there. That really scared me. I didn’t want him to do that but he did it anyway. It was a challenge for him to go fast down there and just stop.” Instead of curbing his strong personality, she gave him freedom. “I always encouraged him to do things, I never restricted his doings. He was quite a kid to raise.” And here she laughs again. “He had his own way and he wanted it done his way. He always was a leader. Whenever he was with a group of boys, he was the one that was always arranging things and taking them wherever they should go, which he still does. And it seemed like he did good because I never heard complaints about it.” His family couldn’t afford much, and with Ed drifting in – and mostly out – of the picture during the early years, Anna resolutely raised four children. “I always found a way,” she says. “They never went hungry.” “My dad left us once for two years, eh.” Fipke says matter-of-factly. It’s consigned to the past now. “We had this garden, and at one stage all we had left was celery to eat. I didn’t like celery after that, but now I love celery, because I ate it when I was young.” Fipke was a quick thinker, precocious and clever enough to devise means of earning money – though not always in ways that he could tell his mother. “I actually was quite a good entrepreneur,” he says. “I was probably the richest kid in my class. And you know, I never got anything from my parents. “I did a lot of questionable things, to be quite honest. Even though I was a Scout,” he says quietly, looking back on a child’s survival instinct through an adult’s filter.




When his father started an aerial farm photography business and settled down somewhat, moving the family from Alberta to British Columbia – to a Peachland farm on the outskirts of Kelowna – Ed was more present in their lives, although his work took him away often. Anna used a paintbrush to turn Ed’s pictures into beautiful works of art, and their oldest son knocked on doors to sell the photos. Young Fipke was, he discovered, good at sales, and the job helped prepare him for the future. “It doesn’t matter what you do, you have to sell yourself,” he says. “My dad was always critical, which was good. It’s good to have criticism. But my mum was always positive, so I had a balance of both.” While finding his balance, Fipke began to yearn for a horse. He says, “I liked all animals, but all I dreamt about was having a horse. I never thought I’d get one.” He’d raised a collection of birds, from pigeons to owls and even a falcon, from a very young age. Maybe he was attracted to the freedom that birds experienced. One day he’d stood helplessly watching as his falcon flew away, never to return. With horses, he, too, could fly. Their wildness that could never be fully tamed was a buzz. “The thing about riding a horse going full blast is it’s exciting, because with downhill skiing, you can control yourself, but with a horse you never really know exactly what’s going to happen. You direct it, but it doesn’t necessarily go there!” He

ABOVE: Fipke’s mother Anna has always been a source of his strength

laughs, his enthusiasm boyish and pure. He had two horses before he was out of high school, an Arabian filly that he lost when his father still owed money for her and an ex-racehorse he sold after it nearly killed him, giving Fipke a concussion and fracturing his skull in three places. “I used to love to ride like the wind. You develop quite an attachment to them, too. It’s one of the things I don’t like about having so many horses, that I can’t really see them all,” he says. He rode the ex-racehorse against Exhibition (now Hastings) Park racehorses that were on their way to the Calgary Stampede. “I came dead last, but it didn’t discourage me,” he says, remembering that he’d ridden Western against real jockeys on lightweight saddles. “I didn’t think I’d lose, you know.” Taylor tells his dad, “That doesn’t cross your mind often.”

Fipke graduated from high school in Kelowna and enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His father had advised him that there were nine jobs available for every geophysicist who earned a degree, so he started off in that direction until a required course unearthed a talent for geology. “Before I went to university, my little brother liked rocks, but I didn’t really. You know, they were interesting, but…” Rocks, he soon learned, presented him with the intellectual challenge of discovery and the physical challenge of the hunt that drives him even now. Geology could unlock the secrets, billions of years old, of the Earth for anyone with the intelligence, patience, and derring-do to find them.

On a typical day, Chuck Fipke spends his mornings poring over the papers in his horse binders and afternoons poring over samples, results, charts, and maps at his lab, where he’s in the process of finalizing a “very important” diamond indicator mineral classification scheme that no one else has done. C.F. Mineral Research Ltd. is in a modest building that’s been the company’s base since it relocated from the kitchen of Fipke’s first house. His parking spot – which he uses more often now that he isn’t bicycling or rollerblading to the office anymore – is marked with a sign: “Stud parking only. All others will be towed.” An old, broken-down Oldsmobile, AKA “The Shark,” occupies a parking space, too. “We do things cost-effectively. What I found when we were starting out is that it was cheaper to put five guys in a car and drive than it was to have everyone go on a bus, eh!” he says. The Shark is kept around as a reminder of how Fipke once had to make do on a shoestring budget. The work that goes on inside the lab is, frankly, staggering. The process of sifting through each sample of what, to the uneducated eye, looks like dirt, dirt, and more dirt is incredibly detailed and exacting. No single grain is ignored; each step sifts out particles of earth whose analysis will not lead to diamonds, gold, or whatever element they happen to be looking for, until they are left with a small, viable sample that warrants closer examination. LEFT: Chuck Fipke, Niki McCardell, J.B. McKathan, and Dallas Stewart at Saratoga




The man running the wet-sieving equipment removes every last speck of dirt before moving on to another bag of dirt. If he doesn’t do this perfectly, the next sample will be contaminated. And so it goes for each of the weedingout processes. One tiny misstep can put prospectors on a costly false trail – or turn them away from a legitimate one. This lab, it’s been said, is the world’s best in its field. “One reason we’re so successful in mining,” Fipke says, “is we developed the technology ourselves.” That technology has helped Fipke identify what he thinks is his second diamond mine, in the Attawapiskat area north of Toronto. “It’s fun finding diamonds!” he says. But despite using the highest level of technology to separate and analyze millions of grains in a bag of dirt – or to breed and develop horses – Fipke doesn’t use the internet. For him, the fax machine is still king, and, though sometimes his horses wear heart monitors and GPS equipment, there’s nothing better than a stopwatch when it comes to training. Fipke, who has a perpetual hint of mischief in blue eyes and a laugh always percolating under the surface, says, “I’ve learned how to use a microwave! People call me a dinosaur, but I’m high tech now that I use that microwave.” Maybe his reluctance to embrace all aspects of modern technology is a vestige

‘OH! HI! IS THIS THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORSES?’ HE ASKS FERNANDO WHEN THE PHONE CONNECTS. of his earliest days in the field when, just out of college with a wife (from whom he’s divorced) and young son, he lived among cannibals, warriors, and bushmen, sometimes sleeping with a doublebarreled shotgun by his side. Whatever the reason, he manages just fine without contemporary gadgetry. When he has a question about horses, he’ll make a phone call to advisor Sid Fernando, president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants (WTC). “Oh! Hi! Is this the encyclopedia of horses?” he asks Fernando when the phone connects. He moves around Kelowna without attracting too much attention. Low key. He prefers it that way. He leads a comfortable lifestyle, far from the glamour that’s synonymous with diamonds. It’s been many years since she’s worried about how to feed her family, but at the age of 90, Anna Fipke still keeps a garden. Widowed in 2014 after 69 years of marriage, she grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries at her Kelowna home, where her son visits her once a week when he’s in town. She’s always been his rock, and he’s never forgotten that. If you didn’t already know, you wouldn’t know that Chuck Fipke is a self-made

man of wealth. If you hadn’t read Vernon Frolick’s 1999 book “Fire Into Ice: Charles Fipke and the Great Diamond Hunt,” you wouldn’t know that Fipke has lived on a razor-thin edge – spending nights at a time stranded in remote and perilous areas; contracting a life-threatening bout of cerebral malaria; or walking away from a helicopter crash. Frolick documents a man’s barely believable life. Fipke says, dismissively, “Oh, that book is water under the bridge. It’s a long time ago.” Behind the blasé wave of his hand, the brushoff that relegates history to history, is a truth that seems to confirm his words – he no longer keeps his artifacts at home. The spears, bows, arrows, shields, and more that he bartered for, communicating in pidgin English with tribal warriors and villagers and often trading them the clothes off his back, are, if not quite forgotten, then at least behind him. So too are his wilder days. The man who once self-medicated with five double scotches after buying a horse way above his line of credit now drinks non-alcoholic beer and avoids added salt in his diet. But the traits that propelled Fipke to his adrenaline-fueled days of adventure ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




Fipke working on his matings at home (left) and examining a sample of kimberlite pipe at his lab (right)

remain. He will always be fearless. Living on the edge is Chuck Fipke’s oxygen. “You’re lucky that I’m kind of injured,” he laughs as he, not fully recuperated from recent double knee surgery, gets behind the wheel of his hybrid SUV, “because I haven’t met a person that’s driven with me twice.” Truthfully? His driving can still put the fear of God in you.

It may seem obvious in retrospect, but success was never a certainty for Fipke. “When I think about things that have happened to myself…” His voice trails off. “I remember when I was in my last year (at UBC) and I was busted. I still had two or three months to go, and I was supporting a wife and kid, going through university. And so I went to the dean, Walter Gage, and I said, ‘Do you have a bursar here? I’m kind of busted.’ He says, ‘Well, you know, it’s the end of the year, everything’s been given out. How much do you need?’” Gage wrote out a personal check for $300. He died eight years after Fipke’s 1970 graduation from UBC, long before the geology student he saved with that small gesture struck it big with the Ekati Diamond Mine. Fipke’s always remembered that generosity. “I’ve given the university around $20 million (CAD), so I think he got good value for his bucks!” More than $9 million of that was for Alzheimer’s research. The brother of his good friend, horse breeder Russell Bennett, passed away from the disease in 2015, so the cause is personal to Fipke. As is WildAid. After his friend, animal



Champion Perfect Soul

rights activist and actress Bo Derek, introduced him to WildAid’s executive director Peter Knights, Fipke became emotionally and financially invested in causes like the fights to end elephant and rhino poaching for ivory and finning live sharks for shark fin soup, establishing a sanctuary for the endangered whooping crane, and reintroducing musk ox to an area in Manitoba as a source of food for polar bears. A recent trip to Botswana left him with a good feeling. “We saw some rhinos that we had just moved from South Africa to the Okavango,” where not even the bushmen can hunt. “I love to shoot animals, eh,” Fipke says. “But with a camera.”

He can come across a bit like Peter Falk’s rumpled Lieutenant Columbo character: maybe his shoes are untied, he’s lost on a familiar road or he gets a name wrong. Not even bone-on-bone pain was enough to keep him out of the field until late last year, when he finally accepted that he needed surgery to get titanium knee replacements. He’d had no trouble climbing up a mountain to take some samples, but getting back down to meet the helicopter was another thing. He had to slide down. “The bottom of my pants got ripped right out, eh, by the rocks and stuff, so when I got on the airplane (to fly home that same day), you know – you could see my butt! I thought nobody’d notice, but the hostess came around and grabbed my jacket, wrapped it around me.” But like Columbo, his brain, which resembles the organized chaos of his kitchen table, is sharp and unique. “If you have creative ways of solving problems, if you can analyze a situation and solve a problem, even if there is no set method, I think it really helps. It’s an advantage…You also have to have people skills, too.” He laughs. “If they were looking for the egghead, I never would have got a job!”

The parallels between Fipke’s passions of geology and racehorses are remarkable. Broken down into steps, it looks something like this:


Identify an area of land that looks promising – this is the equivalent of prospecting for pedigrees rich in graded



YOU WANT TO LOOK AT EVERYTHING. YOU’RE LOOKING TO GET THE IDEAL THING. black-type. For diamonds, you look for formations, such as group 1 eclogite, in kimberlite; for horses, you look for a mare with Group 1s deep on the catalogue page. “Even just one grain can lead you to a pipe, because you collect more samples up-ice or upstream, eh,” Fipke says. “And we follow the trail.” In pedigree terms, that “just one grain” is comparable to finding a mare with that G1-quality pedigree or descending from a blue hen producer. “You can get good horses and if they’re not from rich Group 1-producing families, they’re freaks, and freaks don’t really reproduce.”


Work backwards from your starting point, diligently mapping out the glaciated mineral path back to its source. Fipke and his team tracked and read the mineral trail for 800 miles, one sample bag at a time, to find the Ekati mine in the Northwest Territories. It took about a decade to find Ekati’s first viable diamondiferous pipe, and longer until the mine went into production in 1998. “We don’t actually prospect for diamonds by looking for diamonds,” Fipke says. “We look for minerals that grow with diamonds.



Diamonds only occur in one part per billion by volume (in the rock), and so in order to get them you have to take truckloads and process a lot of material.” In horses, he looks for diamonds by following superior ancestors, however many generations removed. Just as mineral samples go through processes in his lab, Fipke runs horse pedigrees through processes to find their potential, like the diamond inclusion classification scheme he’s been perfecting. One process is “kinbreeding,” a method pedigree authority Karel Miedema introduced him to that identifies significant ancestors and calculates the percentage that a foal would be kinbred to them. The higher the percentage, the more attractive the mating. Scribbled in pencil on Tale of Ekati’s six-cross pedigree page is the word “Moet” for “Moët & Chandon,” producer of Dom Pérignon champagne. “It’s the best,” Fipke says. Tale of Ekati, a son of Tale of the Cat with a 94% kinbreeding ratio, won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes and Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile Handicap in Fipke’s silks for trainer Barclay Tagg. Another criteria is dosage, which he calculates four different ways, including

through a special program Werk Thoroughbred Consultants runs for him, to get distance aptitude. The less variance between the calculations, the more likely it is to be accurate. “There are exceptions. It doesn’t mean they can’t run short, eh, but it tells you the maximum they can run based on their ancestors,” he says. “Nick ratings are actually quite important, too,” Fipke continues. “You want to look at everything. You’re looking to get the ideal thing. Everything will increase your odds of having a successful mating, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to have any success. So it’s risky, but you can reduce your risk. It’s sort of like prospecting – only one out of a thousand properties that are worth drilling become mines, but if you take into account the geochemistry and the geophysics and geology, you can make those odds go down and have a better chance than one to a thousand. It’s the same with horses.”


Be persistent. Having found the source, there’ll be more misses than hits. Even in a fertile zone, most diamondiferous kimberlite pipes are not viable for mining quality diamonds. Not every horse will be Forever Unbridled. “You get kinbred horses that aren’t that good. I have lots of them,” Fipke says. He has prospective foal printouts for each of his mares with different stallions,


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For $180,000 at the 1994 Keeneland November sale, Ball Chairman became that mare, and to the cover of Sadler’s Wells – a breeding recommended by Fipke’s late friend Jack Werk – she produced Perfect Soul, Canada’s champion turf horse of 2003, and his unraced brother Not Impossible, sire of Fipke’s Canadian champions Not Bourbon, who was a Queen’s Plate winner, and Impossible Time from 45 foals. Now 30, Ball Chairman resides at Fipke’s Kentucky farm, managed by Elke Krohn, where she’s buddies with another retired broodmare. “I look after them because they’ve done well for me, and I’ve got to do well for them,” he says.

ABOVE: Forever Unbridled winning the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga

always beginning with his own: Perfect Soul and Tale of Ekati at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Kentucky; Jersey Town at Road’s End Farm in British Columbia; Not Bourbon, Java’s War, and newcomer Perfect Timber at Colebrook Farms Stallion Station in Ontario.

Ekati was the first-ever diamond mine discovered in Canada, where people once said you’d be crazy to prospect for diamonds. Some people have called Fipke crazy for his approach to breeding, too, but, unbothered, Fipke has bred nine Grade 1 winners to date. In addition to Forever Unbridled and Tale of Ekati, there’s been Irish-bred Canadian champion Perfect Soul, Internallyflawless (by Giant’s Causeway), Java’s War (War Pass), Jersey Town (Speightstown), Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Perfect Shirl



(Perfect Soul), 2017 Clark Handicap winner Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul), and Unbridled Forever (sister to Forever Unbridled, by Unbridled’s Song). Fipke’s third horse was his first racehorse, a filly he bought as a yearling in 1982. Named Boldest Spirit, she failed to hit the board in five starts but her third foal, Travelling Spirit (by Bennett’s Travelling Victor), the leading British Columbia-bred two-year-old of 1991, was the first stakes winner Fipke bred and raced. There’s a photograph of him riding Travelling Spirit in the mountains of British Columbia at an open gallop in 2000, and the image of horse and rider bears out what Fipke says: “He just loved to run with me. I just loved to run with him.” But he coveted a daughter of Secretariat, the horse he calls an “inspiration.” BELOW: Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart celebrate Forever Unbridled’s Personal Ensign win (left), and Canadian classic winner Danish Dynaformer coming in first in a race at Keeneland (right)

It’s not hard to guess, seeing the very deliberate way that Fipke operates, that he’s an involved racehorse owner. If things don’t go according to plan, that’s on him, he says. “If I’ve had a say in the decision making, the trainer’s not going to lose me, you know?” Forever Unbridled’s trainer Dallas Stewart’s go-getter personality is a natural match to Fipke’s, and he’s always game to take a shot. Take Golden Soul, who ran second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby at odds of 34-1, or Tale of Verve, fresh off a maiden special weight at Keeneland to place second, at 28-1, in American Pharoah’s Preakness. The primary racing stable is divvied up between Stewart, Steve Asmussen, Roger Attfield, Michael Dickinson, and Barclay Tagg in North America; Sir Mark Prescott, Alain de Royer-Dupre, and Joseph O’Brien in Europe; and Doug Watson in Dubai. His lone racehorse in Japan, the three-year-old Deep Impact filly Stellar Impact he bought as a yearling for ¥125 million ($1.25 million), is with Noriyuki



Forever Unbridled winning the Personal Ensign at Saratoga last summer.

Hori. In November the half-sister to Grade 1 winner Star Billing became one of the first, if not the first, North Americanowned horses to ever run in that country. Fipke’s office recently emailed his trainers a whip policy for first-time starters, pointing out that Forever Unbridled won her last four races without the whip, adding, “We would like the first race to be a pleasant experience, even if the horse comes last. We ask to have the jockey urge the horses to go faster by encouragement…” People who were with him at the beginning are there still, among them Russell and Lois Bennett; J.B. and Kevin McKathan, who do his breaking and pretraining in Ocala, Florida; Darby Dan, where his Kentucky-based stallions stand; and Werk Thoroughbred Consultants. WTC’s Jack Werk passed away in 2010, but whenever Fipke goes to the races, he wears a tie Werk gave him. Look for Fipke to be wearing that tie should Forever Unbridled contest the March 31st Dubai World Cup. He feels “pretty lucky” to have Forever Unbridled, a dappled beauty who’s perhaps the equine version of the “Ekati Spirit,” a 78.086 carat, D flawless diamond mined at Ekati, the most valuable diamond found in North America. Fipke is anticipating a big year for



YOU HAVE TO BE OPTIMISTIC IN THIS GAME. Seeking the Soul, and he’s got a classic hopeful, too. Opening an “S” binder to Soul Beam’s pedigree details, he says, “It’s a cracker. And then see the dosage. He could be a Triple Crown winner, that’s what I think! He’s got inbreeding to a Triple Crown winner [3x4 Secretariat]. Dallas has guaranteed me he’ll win the Triple Crown this year. He’s already won a maiden special weight so we’re already thinking Triple Crown, eh?!” Leaning back, he laughs, freely and with complete abandon. As he puts it, “The ship will never get to port unless it knows the name of the port.” He knows how it sounds for him to make such a prediction, but he’d have never found Ekati if he were afraid to tilt at windmills. Sure, the odds are against him. “I have a book of 7,000 reasons a horse didn’t win. I’m humbled with horses every time I think I’m going to win.” But sometimes, it all comes together. In the winner’s circle after the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Laffit Pincay III addressed him: “I saw you whisper something to

Forever Unbridled a moment ago. What did you say?” “Oh, I, I just said,” and Fipke paused to giggle. “I just petted her and said, ‘Great, sweetie.’” For a workaholic with a plan for everything, there’s the thrill of the wild and unknown when his horses compete. He thrives on it. “You have to be optimistic in this game,” he says. No one has ever accused Chuck Fipke of dreaming small.

Lemons Forever, the dam of Fipke’s Grade 1 homebreds Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever


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Denise Steffanus Shutterstock, Eclipse Sportswire, Dr. Chuck Jenkins



orses thrive on a daily routine and do their best when racing in a familiar environment, like a sports team with homecourt advantage. But more and more American trainers are trying their hand at racing abroad, in places where racing is very different from what their horses are accustomed to. Racehorses in Europe don’t live and train on the racetrack. They are stabled at training yards, similar to a trainer’s private farm in America. Riders hack the horses to grass gallops, sometimes through the nearby town, to get their daily exercise. It is a relaxing, pastoral setting.



When the horses head to the races, they are vanned from the training yard to the racetrack. The disadvantage for an American horse racing for the first time at a European racecourse is it doesn’t have the opportunity to train over the track. So on race day, the horse finds itself in strange surroundings without the security of a lead pony, which are not customary in European racing. Eoin Harty is a fifth-generation Irish trainer now based in California. Under his tutelage, Bill Casner’s Well Armed dominated the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in 2009, winning by 14 lengths, the largest margin in the race’s history.

Harty described the scene at England’s famed Newmarket. “The town is just basically around different training establishments,” he said. “When you go to the track, you might be driving through the town and there’s 50 horses walking on the street beside you, and I mean literally walking on the street. Then they just turn off and they go gallop up a hill somewhere. Then they walk back down through the middle of town and go back to their stalls. It takes a little bit of getting used to.”

Racetrack configurations

Racetracks in America differ greatly from those in Europe. Here, horses travel


counterclockwise on an oval, usually with a dirt surface that the track crew diligently works to keep as flat and even as possible. Turf courses are located inside the dirt tracks, so they are shorter with tighter turns. In Europe, horses race both clockwise and counterclockwise, primarily on turf, traveling up and down grades, and not necessarily in an oval. England’s racecourses are the most interesting. At Goodwood Racecourse in Chichester, the straightaway leads into a loop with sharp turns on a severely undulating surface that sends the horses back over the ground they traversed on the way out. Windsor Racecourse in Berkshire is a figure eight, with horses negotiating both right and left turns. Epsom Downs in Surrey also has right and left turns and a steep downhill turn. At Ascot, some races, such as the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, are contested over a straight mile course. “The hardest thing for me has been dealing with the straightaway, which is such a different race,” said trainer Graham Motion, who grew up in Newmarket and apprenticed with Jonathan Pease in Chantilly, France, before coming to the United States. “It’s more figuring out the idiosyncrasies of how the race should be run. Because you can’t really teach a horse to run straight. It’s something they’re going to have to adjust to.”

Find a local trainer

Harty said American horses tend to get mentally stressed in this strange environment. The way to solve the problem, he said, is to arrive a few weeks earlier and have a local trainer assimilate the horses into his own yard’s string so they can train on the same gallops and become accustomed to the local racing environment. Trainer Art Sherman did exactly that when California Chrome’s connections decided to send the horse to Royal Ascot after his second-place finish in the 2015 Dubai World Cup.


“I wasn’t familiar with how they train in Newmarket, up and down those hills and different courses,” Sherman said. “So I thought it would be better off for the horse to be with somebody who knew everything going on in that area.” California Chrome was placed with Newmarket trainer Rae Guest, but Sherman remained his trainer of record. Guest was tasked with introducing the American Horse of the Year to running clockwise as he prepared for the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. “You’re not going to go there cold turkey and have them go the wrong way and think they’re going to run their best race,” Sherman said. “Another factor of going the opposite way is they’re going to be on a lead they’re not used to running on. That’s why you need to train them that [direction] for that type of turn, going from one lead to the other.”

Unfortunately, a bruised foot knocked California Chrome out of the race. Sherman visited the horse and said, “He was not a happy camper.” His grueling two-year campaign had caught up with him, so California Chrome’s connections brought him home for a three-month turnout at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. Trainer Ken McPeek has raced at Ascot and Epsom. In 2004, his Hard Buck finished second in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. When he built his Magdalena Farm in Lexington, he installed a two-mile European turf gallop up and down the Kentucky hills. “We train them right-handed and lefthanded on gallops here on my farm to prepare them,” he said. “If they’re going to run at Ascot, we train them right-handed every day. And if they’re going to run at Epsom, they go left. And they also get a chance to gallop the hills.” Trainers at the racetrack are not as fortunate. “I don’t know of any track in the States where you can do that,” Harty said. “Maybe the racetrack that you’re training at would work with you and give you 10 minutes at the end of the day to gallop the wrong way.” Newmarket




ABOVE: Epsom Downs BELOW: Daddys Lil Darling taking in her new surroundings with jockey Olivier Peslier

Take a Pony

Getting a horse the distance to the starting gate without incident is Motion’s concern. “It’s a very free gallop down to the start of the race,” he said. “Normally, for the mile at Ascot, the start is a mile away. So you have to gallop a mile down to the start the wrong way up the racetrack. So that can be an issue. Last year McPeek’s horse got loose going down to the start.” Motion was talking about Daddys Lil Darling, who was loping toward the start of last year’s Group 1 Epsom Oaks with nine other horses when a loud clap of thunder startled her. The filly ran off with rider Olivier Peslier, eventually parting company with him and running loose until she was caught and scratched from the race. “I can’t tell you why or how that happened, though I was initially kicking myself that I should have had a pony with her,” McPeek told the Daily Racing Form after the incident.



Lead ponies aren’t prohibited in Europe. Trainers just rarely use them. “Our horses, when they go over there, need that security blanket,” Harty said. “If you look at their horses, they send twoyear-olds to three different racetracks and three starts and they’re in front of a crowd and it doesn’t seem to bother them. So I think it’s just a different kind of horse with a different kind of upbringing, and that’s why they don’t use ponies.” A trainer can make a request in advance for permission to use a pony, but has to supply it himself. That often means shipping it to Europe with his other horses. To further add to the horse’s comfort, most trainers take their key personnel with them. Sherman took California Chrome’s groom, Raul Rodriguez, and his exercise rider, Dihigi Gladney, to Dubai. Both times, the horse’s regular jockey, Victor Espinoza, was aboard.

Riders up

In the history of the Dubai World Cup, American trainers always have taken the horse’s regular jockey with them. Notably, Baffert named Chantal Sutherland-Kruse to ride Game On Dude in the 2012 edition. She is the only female jockey to compete in the auspicious race on United Arab Emirates soil. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said, “With that caliber of horse it would be insulting not to continue to ride who has helped you get there.” In 2008, Asmussen teamed Curlin with Robby Albarado for the win, and Gun Runner had Florent Geroux up for their second-place finish behind Arrogate in 2017. In Europe, Wesley Ward primarily taps the jockeys with whom he has had the

most success in the U.S., among them John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, and Espinoza. Recently, Ward has teamed up over there with champion jockey Frankie Dettori. “He seems to be able to ride anywhere in the world and adapt to certain situations,” Ward said. “He has, in fact, won certain races that I think an American rider or a rider from there wouldn’t win, just because he’s a phenomenal rider.” Ward was the first American trainer to win a race at Royal Ascot when his Strike the Tiger, with Velazquez in the irons, took the Windsor Castle Stakes by a neck in 2009. Ward returns every year to England and France with a string of horses that rack up impressive wins. He begins preparing his horses for the midsummer Ascot meet around the first of the year, with a winter break to freshen them. His goal is to give the horses one or two well-spaced prep races in the U.S. before shipping them to England. “We give them ample time to recover and ample time from their last start here to go there to prepare for those starts. So, essentially, we are running very fresh horses on the day, not tired horses,” he said.

Logistics of the trip

Horses fly to their destination aboard a specially equipped cargo jet. First they are loaded into a container that resembles a two-horse trailer. That container is lifted into the plane and secured in the cargo hold. One or two horses are housed in a single container. Flights to England or France take seven to eight hours. Horses enroute to Dubai will be in transit for more than 24 hours. Motion said trainers should not underestimate the importance of the journey.


Studies show that a horse often will lose two-to-five pounds of body weight for every hour it is in transit if it is not well hydrated. Dehydration affects most of the horse’s bodily systems and can severely damage performance through depleted blood volume, kidney impairment, neuromuscular problems, and heart rhythm disturbances. More importantly, a dehydrated horse is prone to deadly impaction colic. Dr. Chuck Jenkins accompanied California Chrome on both his trips to Dubai. Last year, Baffert sent Jenkins there with Arrogate. He advises trainers to have a veterinarian administer intravenous fluid containing electrolytes before the horse vans to the airport. He also recommends that they send ample water with the horse to get it to its destination, plus an additional two or three days’ worth. This water is loaded in the cargo hold and offered to the horse every hour or so during the trip. “If you give the horse something it’s not used to, maybe it’s not going to drink,” he said. “But if you have your water from your own barn, they’ll drink on the plane.” At the final destination, the remainder of the water is gradually mixed with the water from the stable until the horse becomes accustomed to drinking the newtasting water. For the Dubai trips, Jenkins administers more intravenous fluids during stops if he feels the horse hasn’t drunk enough water. Ward’s protocol is different. When he ships to England, he sends a veterinarian to meet the plane and administer intravenous fluids and electrolytes to the horses as soon as they land. Jenkins advised trainers to give the horse omeprazole, an anti-ulcer medication, to protect its stomach from stress during the journey.

He also suggested boosters of important vaccinations, such as influenza and rhinopneumonitis, in ample time for them to become effective for the trip, if it has been months since the last booster. Maintaining good nutrition is of paramount importance to support the horse during the stressful journey and the change of environment so it can maintain its fitness and a good attitude. For some picky horses, a change of feed can cause them to snort into the feed tub and walk away. One American feed manufacturer has plants in a dozen countries, so many trainers prefer to stick with it for consistency. All the trainers with whom we spoke take their own feed and sometimes hay with them, depending upon their experience at their destination in prior years. “I always bring a hay net with me,” Sherman said. “When I get to the final destination, then I go and see what kind of hay they’re feeding and get a little idea what we need to add to make the horses feel comfortable and keep their appetite going.” Asmussen had Curlin in Dubai for six weeks before the 2008 World Cup, and he arranged for a shipment of the horse’s favorite hay to be there. When asked about the extraordinary measure to make the two-time Horse of the Year feel at home, Asmussen said, “There is only one Curlin!”

ABOVE: Arrogate (left) on the flight to Dubai BELOW: California Chrome winning the Dubai World Cup

Trainers shipping to their destination for the first time should seek recommendations from those who have been there, or they need to set up a contact person there to advise and assist them with preparations. International shipping companies, such as Emirates Airlines and Brook Ledge, have a concierge service to help with paperwork for the horses and personnel. “We help trainers get members of their staff certified, licensed, and approved,” said Jim Cornes, racehorse flight coordinator for Brook Ledge. “So in the future if a stakes race comes up and they need to send someone, it is one less thing for them to worry about. And we have at least one of our flying grooms there who are familiar with the procedures at the airport and procedures in loading—things that the average race groom or show groom isn’t used to.”

Jet lag

Researchers in Ireland, Australia, and the U.S. are investigating whether horses get jet lag when their circadian rhythms are disturbed by travel. Changes in natural light, sleep patterns, feeding schedules, and work schedules affect the horse’s natural “clock genes” that control its biological functions. Horses traveling east through six or more time zones can get jet lag. Dr. Barbara Murphy at the University College Dublin, who has conducted the yeoman’s share of the research, offered this advice to trainers on how to prepare for a trip so as to minimize the effects of jet lag in their horses: “It is important to change both feeding times and exercise schedules to mimic the new time zone prior to travel, in order to shorten the amount of time required for resynchronization of digestive function and performance capacity upon arrival,” she wrote. “Lighting is also of paramount importance. Exposing animals to earlymorning, bright light for several days prior to an eastward journey across multiple time zones, or extended hours of evening light prior to a westward journey, will help synchronize circadian rhythms to the new time zone prior to travel.” But jet lag involves more than just the clock. Traveling itself takes a toll, especially the arduous trip to Dubai. Jenkins, who regularly accompanies horses on the flight, described the typical trip from Santa Anita Park to Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. “For example, we’ll pick up the horses 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. at Santa Anita and drive from Santa Anita to LAX (Los Angeles ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




because the horses seem to be not bad after they run. They’re good going into the race, but afterward they need anywhere from a month to six weeks off.” Asmussen gave Curlin and Gun Runner a few weeks off when they returned from Dubai. Curlin remained on top with three wins and a second in five Grade 1 races after his Dubai World Cup win, and Gun Runner spun off four Grade 1 wins, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when he returned from his run against Arrogate. “We’ve had some success with Curlin and Gun Runner coming back, and not with others. So I’ve decided it’s who you do it with. Some horses take it better than others,” Asmussen said.

Arrogate winning the 2017 Dubai World Cup

International Airport]. By the time we get through customs and paperwork, we’re usually on the plane by about 10-10:30 a.m., so that takes six hours right there. It’s a big deal to get through customs and all the paperwork. “Once we get them on the plane, it’s about an 11-12 hour flight to Amsterdam, and then there’s a three-hour layover in Amsterdam to offload cargo and load more cargo. And then Amsterdam to Dubai is another seven or so hours. So from the time they leave their stall to the time they’re in their stall at Meydan, it’s a full 24 hours, and it’s nonstop. There is no time for resting. It’s a stressful situation. “It takes something out of them for sure, and I notice it more coming back this way from Dubai after the race,” Jenkins said. “And that’s one of the toughest races on the planet. So, sure, they’re going to be tired from that anyway. But when they come back to the United States, boy, they’re wiped out, as am I, and I didn’t have to run the race.”

Is there a Dubai jinx?

Some American horses that race in Dubai never return to their previous form when they come back to the U.S., but no one can figure out why. Actually, if you look at the records of the horses who have raced in Dubai, most have bounced back after a short layoff. “The only place I’ve run is Dubai, and usually they come back pretty well,” Baffert said. “I’ve had them come back and run well. But I think a lot of it is that it’s early in the year, and they’ve been running, and they never really got that break, and they just kept running.” Last year’s Dubai World Cup winner, Arrogate, was never the same. But Baffert thinks it was the colt’s extraordinary effort in the race that took its toll. Arrogate



stumbled coming out of the gate and was last behind 13 of the world’s fastest horses for much of the race. Arrogate and jockey Mike Smith had to catch them. At the 300-meter mark, Arrogate surged ahead of Asmussen-trained Gun Runner to take the lead, winning by 2¼ lengths. “I think, like Arrogate, it affected him because he just had to run so hard, because when he broke so poorly and he spotted everybody, it was hard on him,” Baffert said. “I think it was harder on him than I thought it was. Usually, they’ll come back right away … California Chrome came back and ran well. I think it’s just the individual horse himself. They’re all different. They all react differently. I think it’s a bit harder on a bigger horse. It depends how hard they ran there also.” Sherman said horses that come back from Dubai should be given time off, even if they look healthy and fit enough to continue their campaign. “They need time to recover from that trip. It’s pretty taxing,” he said. “Even though they act good and everything, but I think it’s the altitude and flying that far, and I think a lot of things go into it,

Easier return from Europe

For Ward, coming back to the U.S. from Europe is business as usual. “I have a great record for the horses for the first time they come back, their first start back. Most of them win,” he said. “Just give them a little extra time when you get back. Kind of walk them for a week or so to get them to where they’re feeling good. When we start tracking them, we jog them for maybe a week until we start them galloping. Then we go right on to their work schedules.” Ward recommends the experience of racing abroad, and he encourages more trainers to make the trip. “I’d like to see more people do it,” he said “I think that there was a big question mark in everybody’s mind that it’s a long way to go and your chance of winning is not the same as it would be here. Not only myself, but Tepin went over there and won a Group 1 on their home court.” Asmussen had one final word of advice for trainers traveling abroad to race. “Be sure you take a really fast horse. And I’ve been very blessed in that category,” he said.

Tepin winning the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot 2016

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E L PRA D O Keith McCalmont

Healy Racing Ltd, Primus, Matt Wooley, Lisa Grimm, Eclipse Sportswire, Frances J. Karon


rom the town of Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland, at Lyonstown Stud, sprang a stallion that launched a breeding operation for Canadian entrepreneur Frank Stronach and has left an unmistakable mark on Thoroughbred racing. Raced, like his sire and dam before him, by Robert Sangster, El Prado was trained on the holy ground of Ballydoyle by the incomparable Vincent O’Brien. A son of Sadler’s Wells, in his day the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland a record 14 times, El Prado caught the attention of bloodstock agent Dermot Carty. To appreciate what El Prado has accomplished, one must recognize the brilliance of his sire. Sadler’s Wells entered stud in 1985 to immediate success. Over time, he became the sire of 294 stakes winners, including 14 individual Irish classic winners, 12 classic winners England, and three classic winners in France. But it was El Prado, foaled in 1989 from the brilliant Lady Capulet, that would travel his talents to North America and find a home in Kentucky as the stud who made Stronach’s Adena Springs an award-winning force in racing.

Charles O’Brien, an assistant to his father, trainer Vincent O’Brien, when El Prado was racing, looks back fondly on the young horse. “He was not a very typical Sadler’s Wells and didn’t look like him,” recalled O’Brien. “Most of them were bay with white points, and he was grey and bigger and more substantial. Many were quite light-framed, but he was a big, heavy horse.” O’Brien recalls putting a green El Prado through his paces. “He wasn’t the two-year-old type but he had such a good constitution that we just kept moving him up in his work, and he thrived on it and just kept going, although he didn’t really have the physique of a sharp two-year-old,” said O’Brien.

But familiarity through the bloodlines struck a chord and despite physical appearances, O’Brien knew that El Prado had a genetic right to be good young. “We knew him well from scratch. He was out of a very good filly, Lady Capulet, which won the Irish Guineas first time out. We knew him all his life,” said O’Brien. Blessed by pedigree, El Prado is a half-brother to Irish champion Entitled. El Prado made six starts in his juvenile campaign, including a score at first asking and a next-out win in the Group 3 John J. Long Memorial Stakes. In his third career start, the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes, he came up against a monster in St. Jovite, who denied a stubborn El Prado by a desperate neck. St. Jovite went on to win the Futurity en route to sharing year-end championship honors with El Prado. A year later, St. Jovite would win the Irish Derby. Keeping El Prado, a horse already considered not your typical juvenile racing prospect, in form, however, was proving to be something of an issue. “He was such a good eater it was hard to keep the weight off him. You had to give him a little more work than most, plus he wasn’t the greatest work horse in the world so it took a fair bit of graft to keep him fit,” said O’Brien. If anything, that narrow loss to St. Jovite may have been the race to bring El Prado to top form. On September 7, 1991, El Prado made his Group 1 debut in the National Stakes at the Curragh. With Lester Piggott up, El Prado was expected to win, which he did by a half-length over Nordic Brief. “The Group 1 National was his peak. It was very typical for him. He wasn’t a flashy horse; it was very much a grind for him. He wasn’t the type to quicken away in a matter of strides but he’d just grind other horses down through sheer power,” offered O’Brien. El Prado traveled to England, where he was 12th of 30 runners in a valuable Tattersalls-sponsored race, before finishing out his juvenile season with a win in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes in Ireland. “He took on whatever was around at the time as a twoyear-old,” said O’Brien. ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




Total Foals 1,027 Black type winners 83 (8%)


Total foals 1975 Black type winners 57 (3%)

El Prado’s three-year-old campaign didn’t pan out as desired. From three starts, he mustered a fifth in the Group 3 Scottish Classic at Ayr and failed to impress in consecutive Group 1 tries in France. “His first run back as a three-year-old was obviously disappointing,” admitted O’Brien. “We thought we had him back to somewhere near his best but he didn’t show any spark.” Given the success of El Prado’s high-profile son Medaglia d’Oro, some might wonder what El Prado might have accomplished if given a chance on a natural dirt surface. “It wouldn’t have happened (trying dirt) as a two-yearold anyway, and then he got hurt in the spring of his three-year-old year, he twisted an ankle basically and was never really right again afterwards, so it never became a possibility,” said O’Brien. Instead, he prefers to hold onto the family ties to the great grey. “It makes it that much more special to know (my father) had trained both parents and then him. That adds a bit of extra to it,” he said.

El Prado’s racing career had come to a close, but his true calling was about to begin. A native of Austria, Frank Stronach made his fortune as the founder of Magna International, an auto parts company in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. His Adena Springs Farm now stands multiple stallions in Canada and the U.S. -- in Ontario, Kentucky, and California -- but El Prado was the start of it all. In 1993, Dermot Carty, equine consultant, bloodstock agent, and the man responsible for Stronach’s Adena Springs North location, asked longtime friend and associate Edward Daly to provide a list of potential



stallion prospects from the Sadler’s Wells line. Daly sent three names, including that of El Prado. On paper, the horse’s two-year-old form was exceptional, but a closer analysis of his family line found many threads worth pulling. “I started my research by going to Kentucky to speak to one of my mentors, Tom Gentry,” said Carty. “Tom had a great understanding of pedigrees and had bred Terlingua (the dam of Storm Cat), War and Peace, Pancho Villa, Royal Academy, and many more.” Gentry’s analysis of El Prado, out of the grey Lady Capulet (by Sir Ivor, another horse trained by Vincent O’Brien), found that bringing the horse to North America might have precedent. “Tom told me that El Prado had more of an American pedigree and when I asked him why, he said, ‘Well, Lady Capulet’s brother is a horse called Drone, who stood at Claiborne Farm and was very successful,’” smiled Carty. Carty, in addition to his own keen eye, knew that the knowledge of the veteran horsemen that came before him was priceless and reached out to another friend and

TOP: El Prado with Lester Piggott winning at the Curragh 1991 ABOVE: L-R Frank Stronach, Charles O’Brien, Dermot Carty


Northern Dancer, 1981 Sadler’s Wells, 1981 Fairy Bridge, 1975

El Prado (IRE) gr c Foaled 1989

Sir Ivor, 1965 Lady Capulet, 1974 Cap and Bells, 1958

mentor in Arthur Stollery. A member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as a builder, Stollery owned Angus Glen Farm and bred standouts such as fellow Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famers Kennedy Road and Lauries Dancer. At the time of Carty’s research, Stollery had two Drone mares on hand and Carty simply had to know why. “He said, ‘Speed, unbelievable speed,’” recalled Carty with a shake of the head. Carty recognized the potential, but was there opportunity? He worked the phones to his native Ireland and started to dig up all the information he could on his budding stallion prospect and the people who owned him. From this he gleaned that El Prado “was a brilliant twoyear-old but he was not typical of the Sadler’s Wells. He was a bigger horse with lots of bone on him and traced back to his mother, and Drone came back up. “Further to this,” continued Carty, “I was aware that he didn’t train on because he didn’t like the vanning and he didn’t like to fly. In the particular year he was co-two-yearold champion with St. Jovite, who was trained by my pal Jim

Bolger. Jim indicated to me that he was a very good horse. So, I actually had a very good background from Jim, Tom Gentry, and Art Stollery as to what I might be looking at.” The evaluation process spanned four months, and it seemed a sale was far from happening until a strange whisper reached him from overseas. “I got wind that the stallion operation owned by the ownership of El Prado didn’t like grey horses for stallions at that particular time, and El Prado was grey,” smiled Carty. “I also got word that there was a chance there was a deal that had stalled to send the horse to India.” Carty put forward an offer to buy 50 percent of the horse but negotiations stalled. Fortunately, the deal to send El Prado to India was going no better and Carty, who must be a shrewd poker player, pushed his chips to the center of the table and went all in. “So, I said to them, ‘I’ll give you one shot, with 24 hours to respond, but we have to have it signed and sealed that afternoon,’” recalled Carty. “We put together the agreement and faxed it over to Edward Daly and asked him to get it signed. I put in the contract that as long as we had 50 percent of the horse we had total control, and I never thought they would have signed it, but they did.” Stronach didn’t have a facility to stand stallions at the time, so El Prado went to Brereton Jones’ Airdrie Stud in Kentucky before moving to Adena Springs in 1998. In hindsight, it’s easy to think that El Prado would have been met with a slew of owners lining up their mares, but that just wasn’t the case. ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



“We thought we were in for a big year and boy were we in for a big surprise. No one wanted to hear anything about it,” grimaced Carty. “We started (standing El Prado) at $7,500 and went down to $2,500 just to get mares to go to him, because there was no interest from the general public because he was something new.” For the few who did breed to the horse came great success. “From his first crop, the whole thing changed, starting with ,” smiled Carty It was Gentry that did the mating that produced Chindi, out of the Alydar mare Rousing. A multiple graded stakes winner, Chindi became his sire’s first millionaire. Another first-crop standout was El Cielo, who won four Grade 3 stakes on the turf in California. The stakes winners began to flow and the interest, where none previously existed, grew.


“He worked as we thought he might with his Americantype pedigree that he would work with the American mares,” said Carty. “And it was all done by Frank buying mares off the track and putting them in foal and selling them with a season back to the stallion.” El Prado became the first stallion to have graded stakes winners on turf, dirt, and synthetic. His progeny include the Eclipse Award-winning champion turf horse of 2004, Kitten’s Joy; 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller; multiple Grade 1 winner Borrego; and the increasingly brilliant Medaglia d’Oro, yet another multiple Grade 1 winner. All four have made their impact at stud. “Did we know he was going to make it? No,” admitted Carty. “But when we went to see the first crop, they were stamped. They were strong, good-boned, and well put together. That was very important. “As time went by he proved himself beyond a shadow of a doubt. He was a game changer of the breed.” El Prado passed away at the age of 20. “Unfortunately, (Adena) never ended up with a great son of El Prado, which is sad,” said Carty. “But It was important for Frank to get the foundation going with a major stallion on his own farm.”

Stronach’s inability to replace El Prado wasn’t from a lack of trying. In fact, Ken Ramsey -- whose strong business acumen and stronger personality allowed him to build, and lucratively sell, a string of cellular telephone network franchises to the tune of $39 million -- notes that when his Kitten’s Joy was gobbling up graded stakes wins on the turf, Stronach’s advisers came calling. “El Prado is an underrated sire and Frank Stronach wanted to buy Kitten’s Joy to replace him, and he made me many offers. The first offer was for half a million, after the first stakes win, and I said no,” recalled Ramsey. “I told him that I’d take $750,000 but he didn’t do it.” From February 21 to July 10, 2004, Kitten’s Joy, trained by Dale Romans, competed in four Grade 3 events, winning three and losing the other by a head. “The horse went out and won another stake so they came back and said I’ll take the horse for $750,000, and I said, ‘No, the price is now a million,’” said Ramsey. “Then he wins another stakes race, so they said, ‘I’ll take him for a million’.” Ramsey’s answer again came back in the negative. “The price is now a million and a half,” he stated firmly.



TOP LEFT: El Prado winning the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh TOP RIGHT: Medaglia d’Oro’s Plum Pretty winning the Grade 2 Cotillion Stakes

LEFT: Medaglia d’Oro’s Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (above) and El Prado’s multiple graded stakeswinning millionaire Chindi, stable pony for Steve Hobby (below)

2018 Fee: $60,000 Stands and Nurses

CHAMPION TURF SIRE IN AMERICA 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, AND 2013 The Kitten that Roared

LGB, LLC 2018


At this point, Kitten’s Joy was dominating top flight American turf racing. From August 14 to October 30, the homebred attempted three Grade 1 events, winning twice before losing narrowly to Better Talk Now in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. “After he won another Grade 1, (Stronach) called back and said, ‘I’ll take him for million and a half,’ but I said, ‘No, it’s now two and a half.’ But he wouldn’t take it,” grinned Ramsey. “Then he goes and wins the Joe Hirsch, just devastated the field, and they called back a fifth time and asked what it would take to buy the horse and I said, ‘I’m sorry, he’s no longer for sale.’” Ramsey noted that, “Kitten’s Joy put both Dale Romans and myself on the map. We started Kitten’s Joy on the dirt and no good. Next time out he went to the turf, and it was a completely different horse.” Kitten’s Joy has been a real success story, with 82 stakes winners to date. “He’s now five consecutive years the leading turf sire and one year was the leading general sire. He’s been in the top four for several years on the general sire list,” added Ramsey. On the home front, a much-publicized disappointment at the sale prices being generated by his sale progeny led to Ramsey selling a half-interest in Kitten’s Joy to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, where he’ll now stand for $60,000 live foal. Ramsey stands tall behind his accomplishments with Kitten’s Joy. “It’s very gratifying and gives us a sense of pride and satisfaction,” said Ramsey. “His legacy will be as one of the greatest turf sires of all time. He’ll go down in the history books.” And he gives a respectful nod to his Canadian counterpart for having the vision to bring El Prado stateside. “You can give the credit to Frank Stronach. I’m glad to see he’s getting the Eclipse Award of Merit, because he’s really changed the sport of racing,” said Ramsey. “I worry about this sport once he’s gone. He owns all these racetracks and comes up with a lot of innovative ideas and is a big supporter of racing.”




To properly appreciate El Prado’s significance in North America and beyond, one need look no further than Medaglia d’Oro, who was not only a great racehorse but has also become one of the top sires in the world. Bought privately by Edmund Gann after breaking his maiden in his second start, Medaglia d’Oro put together a race record of eight wins and seven seconds from 17 starts, banking in excess of $5.7 million dollars and winning three Grade 1 events: the Travers Stakes, Whitney Handicap, and Donn Handicap. Medaglia d’Oro, purchased for stud duty by Audrey Haisfield’s Never Tell Farm, retired to Hill ‘n’ Dale in 2005 for an initial fee of $35,000. He moved to his owner’s Stonewall Stallions in time for the 2006 breeding season. His first crop, just like those of El Prado and Sadler’s Wells before him, was wildly successful, producing a number of stakes winners including the brilliant Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year. Following that success, Medaglia d’Oro was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley, where he now stands for a remarkable $250,000. The parade of prosperity continued for Medaglia d’Oro, through Grade 1 winner and champion Songbird and multiple Grade 1 winner and early 2018 Kentucky Derby favorite Bolt d’Oro. Two of Medaglia d’Oro’s Australianbred and -raced sons have found their way to Kentucky for the Northern Hemisphere season: Ashford Stud-based champion Vancouver, whose first U.S.-conceived foals are arriving this year, and Astern, a Group 1 winner in Australia standing his first season at Darley. And in Hong Kong, the ever-improving Classic Emperor looms as yet another chance at international success. In 2017, Medaglia d’Oro’s progeny included seven Grade 1 winners. Only Danzig, Mr. Prospector, and Storm Cat can stake a similar claim in America. As sales manager for Darley, Darren Fox oversees the book for Medaglia d’Oro. “There isn’t too much I have to tell people that they don’t already know about him. When you look at his body of work you know what type of pedigree and what type of physicals he works with,” said Fox. “He’s a proven stallion for young

BELOW, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Paddy O’Prado, Spanish Moon, New Money Honey, and Winter Memories

The magnificent

Medaglia dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Oro sired seven G1 winners in 2017 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; among American stallions, only Mr. Prospector, Danzig and Storm Cat ever had as many in a single season. 859-255-8537



maiden mares and he just has a high chance of getting a stakes horse, and that horse being a Grade 1 winner. He’s very well known and there isn’t much selling to be done.” The recent surge in Grade 1 winners has only added to Medaglia d’Oro’s credentials, sending his stud fee soaring, not that it’ll slow down the assembly line of well-known mares that have booked a date. “Tapit is the ‘Top of the Pops’ at $300,000 and then you have War Front and Medaglia d’Oro a joint second at $250,000. He’s definitely climbing his way up there and has been in the top three for quite a while now, but he broke out and had a banner year,” agreed Fox.


And the stallion seems to share the joy to all that come to him, which only helps spread the good word. “He’s had G1 winners in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. on both surfaces,” noted Fox. “When you can get your progeny to as many markets and buyers as possible it’s a positive thing for commercial breeders trying to sell. The more prospective buyers you have, the more you can get.” The numbers break down fairly evenly male to female for Medaglia d’Oro, with 30 graded stakes-winning colts compared to 27 fillies, although the fillies take the nod with 12 Grade 1 winners to nine. It’s a lucrative business but one that returns well for both sides of the deal. He’ll breed up to 130 mares in Kentucky and a reduced book of about 80 mares in Australia. His son Violence, a leading first-crop sire of 2017 standing at Hill ‘n’ Dale, is carrying things forward to the next generation, as are Medaglia d’Oro’s daughters. “As a broodmare sire, he’s the sire of 12 black type winners, of which three are graded stakes winners and two are Grade one winners, namely Rachel’s Valentina and Rock Fall,” said Fox. “He’s head and shoulders above his sire crop in that category. Plus, he has a lot of young sire sons at stud. “He’s definitely left his mark early and strongly as a broodmare sire,” continued Fox. “And it all amounts that he’s going to exact a pretty significant influence on the breed both through sons and daughters. We’ll be seeing Medaglia d’Oro in pedigrees for a long time to come.”

In time, El Prado may become overshadowed by his more famous sons, but not many stallions can claim to have launched a racing empire in the way the unlikely grey paved the way for Stronach’s success.



ABOVE: Medaglia d’Oro at Darley BELOW LEFT: Songbird, by Medaglia d’Oro

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C O N S I D E R AT I O N S F O R D I G E S T I V E T R A C T H E A LT H 48


| D I G E S T I V E T R A C T H E A LT H |

Emma Hardy, PhD


he success or failure of any breeding program is dependent on the nutritional status and digestive tract health of foals, mares, and stallions alike. Although this aspect of the operation is often overlooked, it is only by ensuring that these considerations are optimized that foals are given the best chance to survive and thrive, from birth through weaning and on to sale.

A weighty issue

There exists surprisingly little research surrounding the nutrient requirements of the breeding stallion. This may be in part complicated by the great variation in activity; some stallions may serve several mares a day during peak periods in the breeding season, while others may serve only that number in a year. Other influencing factors may include temperament, management routine, and


competitive activities. However, it is generally agreed that energy demands are indeed above maintenance levels, and according to various National Research Council studies it has been suggested that active stallions require approximately a third more digestible energy than their non-breeding, sedentary counterparts. Research in other species has shown that a body condition that deviates greatly from the ideal can be associated with an increased risk of infertility (Nguyen et al. 2009). Nutritional content is also of great importance, with zinc and omega-3 fatty acids playing important roles in sperm motility, mobility, and viability. Extremes in body weight and condition can also affect the fertility of broodmares. Low levels of body fat in mares can inhibit or delay ovarian activity, and obesity is often associated with insulin resistance (equine metabolic syndrome, or EMS), which can also disrupt cyclicity. Gentry et al. (2002) found that mares with a body score of 3-3.5 demonstrated a longer anestrus than mares with ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



a good body score (eg., 5) (Henneke et al. 1983) and was accompanied by lower plasma leptin, prolactin, and insulin-like growth factors. It would therefore be sensible to carefully manage the weight and condition of both broodmares and stallions to optimize breeding potential.

Safely improving body condition and weight

ABOVE: Omega 3 fatty acids play important roles in sperm mobility and viability


For horses struggling to maintain ideal body condition it is important to assess forage intake and quality, and to also increase concentrates. Energy-dense grains and fats are often employed in these situations; however, caution must be taken to avoid the digestive tract issues these can cause. Adding fat-fortified feeds to the diet, or top dressing fats or oils, can be an effective way to increase caloric intake. However, oils can pose a palatability issue. For a significant caloric contribution, somewhere between 200-500 ml/day of vegetable oil would be required. This would also increase the need for additional vitamin E & selenium to counteract the greater antioxidant need of a horse on such levels of supplementation. The horse is naturally limited in its capacity to digest large volumes of starch, so concentrations should be limited to about 2g starch/kg body weight per meal,


which equates to 0.2% starch or approx 3lbs (1.4kgs) of grain per meal. Anything over this risks starch bypass through to the large intestine, which can cause a bacterial inversion and ultimately a range of issues from poor feed absorption and inflammation to colic and laminitis. While it is prudent to ensure that a diet is appropriate both in volume and quality, the health of the digestive tract itself can sometimes be overlooked. Optimal absorption can only be maximized when the mucosal surface of the tract and its vascular supply is healthy, the structure facilitates effective nutrient uptake, and the transit rate allows adequate time for digestion. Other factors known to affect fertility and gestation can include naturally occurring contaminants found in feed, bedding, and housing. It has been well established that exposure to toxins produced by molds and yeast can have detrimental effects on many biological systems. Of particular interest to breeders are mycotoxins, such as ergotalcaloids (found in some species of grass) and zearalenone (occurring in cereals). Zearalonone disrupts the estrous cycle leading to lower conception rates, and ergotalcaloids can induce late gestation fetal loss and placental abnormalities. Mycotoxin binding agents can be a beneficial addition to a broodmareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diet in a bid to combat mycotoxicosis. Biological products such as

| D I G E S T I V E T R A C T H E A LT H |

yeast cell wall, containing polysaccharides such as glucan or mannan, are emerging as potent adsorbers, with multibinding properties to numerous chemically different mycotoxins (Diaz & Smith, 2005). Clearly, risk management should be applied at all levels of the feed production and manufacture chain to minimize contamination. Correct storage and regular quality assessment are paramount but the addition of a mycotoxin absorbent to the diet is also likely to be beneficial.

Nutritional demands of the pregnant mare

The nutrient and energy requirements of the pregnant mare begin to increase from month five of gestation (as placental tissues significantly develop). Consequently, a carefully devised diet containing adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals (major and trace) is imperative. The pregnant mare’s caloric intake should also be increased and, depending on climate, housing, etc., feed volume may need to be increased by up to 30% by the end of gestation. This may be complicated during late gestation when the foal occupies an increasing proportion of the mare’s abdominal cavity, thus making large volumes of feed difficult to ingest. The foal will gain approximately 80% of its birth weight during the last trimester, and the most rapid growth period will be in the few day before or after birth (Staniar et al. 2004). Ensuring optimal gastrointestinal support helps to safeguard the health of both the mare and her foal.


Colostrum IgG transfer crucial to foal health

The passive transfer of maternally derived immunoglobulins (predominantly IgG) to the newborn foal should occur via the mare’s colostrum within the first 1-8 hours after parturition. The immunoglobulin content of colostrum drops to 10-20% of levels recorded following parturition, and after the first 24 hours of life “gut closure” in the foal occurs. This means that the large IgG molecules can no longer be absorbed. Failure of passive transfer (FPT) leaves the foal particularly susceptible to bacterial infections, septicemia, enteritis, pneumonia, and even death. Insufficient IgG transfer can occur for a variety of reasons, from premature birth, loss of colostrum due to lactation prior to parturition, to neglect or death of the mare. Another common reason for FPT is inadequate levels of IgG in the mare’s colostrum. Dietary supplementation of certain nutrients has been shown to have a beneficial effect on colostrum IgG levels in numerous species (Krakowski et al. 1999, 2002, Khalkhane et al. 2013). In a pilot study (Carter & Pelligrini, unpublished) carried out on three Thoroughbred breeding farms in the U.S., 26 broodmares were randomly placed into two groups. The experimental group received a polar lipid/beta glucan-based supplement 90 days prior to foaling, while the second group served as a control. The supplement, although primarily used to support the health and functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, also imparts immunomodulatory properties. Adequate levels of IgG are accepted as between 4000 – 6000 mg/dl colostrum. The broodmares receiving the




| D I G E S T I V E T R A C T H E A LT H |

Development of the gut microbiome and common risks in the foal

ABOVE: Lactattion ultim matelyy influencees the foal’s growth rate, condition and boddy weiighht

suppleemen nt rep ported a 97% % high her IgG concenttraation in n th he colosttrum (avee. 14038 mg//dl) when comparred to thee con ntro ol grou up (ave. 70 078 mg/dll). Forr broo odmaarees wit ith a history off poo or colosstral IgG conceenttration ns, add ditiionall supp port may help to ensure a good trransfeer of im mmunity.

Supporting nutrition for lactation

onally fo or thee Lactation is veryy demandiing nuttrittio broodmare, and d it is well estaablished th hat nutrritiional statuss and milk yyiiield and quality ty are link ked d. This ulltimateely inffluences l growt wth th ratte, cond dition, an nd body weig ght. Within the fiirst 30 days off lacttation n marees can produce up to 14 kgs of milk a day, with i a calorriee con nten nt of 500 0 kccal//kg g. Further, it takes up to 6--8 weeeks before the hindg gut off the foal is functional enou ugh h to absorb exxtrra nutritiion frrom non-milk sources. Balanced nutritional intake in the mare including adequate protein n, calccium m, and phosphorrus is crucial, as is ensuring that the digesttivve trract iss ablee to maximize uptake and absorrption. In ncrreaaseed volumes off feed, however, can presen nt a risk k in itsellf, so smalleer, more frequent feedings can hellp moderrate the transit raate an nd ensure compllete dig gestion. Fo oal heeat occurs at 14 days post foaling, and th hen at 22 day inttervalls. From a com mmerciall aspeect, and d due to consttrain nts off the breeding seeason, mares are often t n put back into foall as soon as is safe to do so; thus, returning g fertility is paramount. It has also beeen sh hown wn thaat mares who foal in poor condittion or who losee weight rapidly when lactating have red duced repro oductive eff ffic ffi iciency (Heneke et al. 1981). Meanwhile, R..M. Jorrdan (1982) found that if mares who foaled in n poor condition were allowed to gain weight during lactatiion their conception rates were unaff ffected. f Regardlesss, it is obviou i us that maintaining a healthy weight throughout gestation and lactation is always preferable to tryiin ng to rectify a prob blem that has develo oped d in the process.



By three months of age, the foal wiilll have relied on the mare’s milk as a supply of energy gy and nutrients, again highlighting ho ow the broodmare’s own wn nutrition is crucial. Prior to birth the foal’s gastrointestinal tract is relatively free of bacteria and d microbes. A Afffttter birth, it rapidly populates and is an impo ortant event contributing to the foal’s health and developmeent (Julliand, 1992). While more research is warranted to esstablish how this can be further supported, it is clear that the health of the microbial ecosystem in the foal’s hindg gut is integ gral to its ability ty to go on to absorb and digest certain feedstuff ffs f and for its general wellbeing. Digestive isssues can be commonplace in the young foal. Gastric lesionss in particular have been deemed common in foals under 10 days of age, and these foals often lack overt sym mptoms (Murray et al. 1990). Diarrhea is often associateed w wiith i the mare’s first i foal heat or during adaptation to other sources of food but is usually selflimiting. Howeever, other causes, whether infectious or not, should no ot be ruled out. Rotavi virus, i salmonellosis, Clostrid dium difffiicil i le, and d Lawsonia intracelllullaris can all posse signifficant i challenges to the foal. Appropriate veterin nary treaatment combined w wiith i gastrointestinal su uppo ort can heelp promote eff ffective f recovery. Opttimal nuttrition and gastrointestinal health in the brroodm mare, staallion, and foal is of primary concern for brreedeers. It waarrants careful planning and consideration, wit ith which maany digestive issues can be limited or avo oided d while maintaining peak condition, weight, fertility, and overall health.






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Agent Bill Saddoo (Right) with trainer Dan Hendricks

(Left) Scott McClellan





anager, mastermind, guru, agent, call him what you will, Colonel Tom Parker was the man who made Elvis Presley. The King of Rock and Roll’s talent was only exceeded by his raw sex appeal, and Parker, self-proclaimed military officer or not, saw to it that the world would march en masse to a cadence called by Presley’s signature tones. Elvis died more than four decades ago, but not before he and Parker reached the apex in gold and glory, still yielding riches of infinite proportions all these years later. In racing, it’s not clothes that make the man; in part it is the agent directing the jockey. Agent and jockey provide a service to trainers, a salesman offering a product. An agent in this instance is best described as a person empowered to transact business for a jockey. On any given morning at any given track, condition book in hand, there they are, Monty Hall wannabes, ready to make a deal. A standard arrangement calls for an agent to be paid 25 percent of a jockey’s earnings, but that percentage could vary. If the rider’s services are in great demand, he could pay the agent a smaller percentage. Or, if the agent possesses the persuasive prowess of a Colonel Parker, he could warrant the higher percentage. It’s Economics 101. Back in the day, agents were not prominent, if in evidence at all. Major stables employed contract riders and in order to ride for an outside trainer, the jockey had to receive permission from his contract stable to do so.


Zoe Metz

Now, the vast majority of riders have an agent, although jocks on a restricted budget with limited mounts have been known to represent themselves. Agents wear many hats, including those falling under the Three P’s: politician, psychiatrist, and pacifist, and they can be a boon to racing departments. “In my career around the country at tracks on both coasts, I’ve worked with agents who mostly helped the racing office,” said Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita’s vice president of racing as well as racing secretary. “We’re both trying to accomplish the same thing: get horses into races. Working with agents and sharing information about trainers’ intentions can help us achieve our goal.” Even though it’s his first tour as an agent, Mike Lakow has racing’s paradigm of Tom Brady in jockey Javier Castellano, a 40-year-old Venezuelan at the zenith of his career. The reigning four-time Eclipse Award winner, a world class rider be it at Dubai or Churchill Downs, was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Still, for an agent, the pressure is always on. Although he never trained, the 60-yearold Lakow (pronounced LAKE-ow) otherwise has an extensive background enabling him to understand ramifications that simmer just below racing’s surface. “When I was working as general manager at Hill ‘n’ Dale (a major breeding farm in Kentucky),” he said, “I owned a quarter of one horse, and believe me, it’s a tough deal, so I respect all the owners, as well as trainers.”

Lakow, now based on the East Coast, was racing director at Santa Anita before Castellano hired him in August of 2016. Lakow also was racing secretary for the New York Racing Association (NYRA) from 1993 to 2005, served as a racing official in Florida and Dubai, and was hands-on with horsemen regularly at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner during his sojourn at the historic Southern California track. “I’m incredibly fortunate to represent Javier,” Lakow said, “because he’s a professional who’s liked by everybody. We have no issues as far as not being able to ride for one trainer or one owner. He’s won four Eclipses, done it all, and now we’re trying to focus on riding the top horses.” Stress and pressure are standard fare in the workforce, whether you’re Donald Trump unceasingly enduring “fake news” attacks 24/7 or a McDonald’s minimum wage burger slinger serving up $2.50 McPicks. It’s all relative. That includes Lakow, although he is averse to pointing it out, lest he might be looked upon as a malcontent, what with two chickens in the pot. “People who see all the money we’re making might wonder how being agent for a top jockey could be stressful, but it is,” Lakow said. “I’ve been in administrative positions in racing for many years, with NYRA and at Santa Anita, but if you happen to make a mistake here and there, you move on. “It affects the company, but it doesn’t affect an individual. If I happen to make a mistake with Javier, it affects him. ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



Being an agent is almost parallel to training horses; it’s very similar. Right now, it seems owners pick the jockeys more so than they ever did before, when trainers were deciding who to ride. Patty Sterling “It’s impossible to keep everybody happy. Any agent will tell you that. Fortunately, Javier is level-headed, so I’m in a good position. That’s not the case with some other jockeys, from what I’ve heard. I respect Javier and Javier respects me, but like I’ve said, it’s impossible to keep everybody happy. “You try to do the right thing. I respect all the horsemen who give us calls, because it’s a tough game for trainers. Horses will fool you, so I understand the stress trainers and owners face. I don’t look at this as a one-shot relationship. “Luckily, I have the respect of horsemen because of my work in New York and California. When I started with Javier, horsemen gave me the benefit of the doubt. I was a bit green and I think other agents probably thought, ‘Look at this guy. He starts a job and has a top rider,’ but I’m lucky because I didn’t burn any bridges. I get along with most people and treat everybody with respect. That’s what’s made it so much easier for me. “In the long run, honesty is the best policy, and I’m always honest. It hurts sometimes, but in the long run, I think it helps.” Another agent who has been on both sides of the wall is Tom Knust, former racing secretary at Santa Anita and Del Mar, now booking mounts for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez.

“One thing I learned quickly as an agent is that if you have a good rider, it makes things pretty easy, and if you don’t, it’s very, very difficult,” Knust said. “That’s the key, whether you’ve had experience in the racing office or you’ve just come in off the street. “If you give a call, you want to honor it, although situations develop where you’re in a bind and ask a trainer if he can help you out, but if he doesn’t, you’ve got to keep your word and ride his horse.” An additional plus comes from riding regularly for a winning trainer, in the case of Gutierrez, that being Doug O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another and Nyquist to capture the Kentucky Derby for principal owner J. Paul Reddam in 2012 and 2016. “It’s absolutely an advantage, 100 percent, if you have a go-to stable that wins a lot of races, like O’Neill,” Knust said. As a female, Patty Sterling is in the minority among agents, but with her extensive familial background in racing, she is looked upon as one of the boys. Her late father, Larry, trained 1978 Santa Anita Handicap winner Vigors and is the father of jockey Larry Sterling Jr. Patty’s uncle, Terry Gilligan, rode and trained, and his brother, also Larry, made his bones as a rider, too. Now 80, he is the quick official at Santa Anita and Del Mar. “It’s probably a lot easier for a woman in this business than

it used to be,” said Patty, 54, a former clocker. “I don’t see that as a problem. “Being an agent is almost parallel to training horses; it’s very similar. Right now, it seems owners pick the jockeys more so than they ever did before, when trainers were deciding who to ride.” Ron Anderson has represented a Who’s Who of jockey greats in a career going on four decades: Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens, Chris Antley, Garrett Gomez, Kent Desormeaux, and current star Joel Rosario among them. But he is first to admit it’s a combination of variables that produce long-term success. After all, some horses move slower than the hands on a traffic school clock, and into each life, some rain must fall. “At the end of the day,” said Anderson, like Lakow headquartered on the East Coast, “it’s not jockey racing; it’s horse racing, so the agent and the jockey have to get on the right horse. Generally, a jockey can’t make a horse win. It’s a combination of things, and I’ve been lucky to have represented the right riders. “The good ones make it easy for you to get on winning horses. People are looking for you and calling for you, instead of the other way around. It makes things much easier when someone’s knocking on your door and you’re not knocking on theirs having to ask or beg them for a chance. That makes it difficult.

One thing I learned quickly as an agent is that if you have a good rider, it makes things pretty easy, and if you don’t, it’s very, very difficult. Tom Knust 56



The main thing is to represent a good rider that people want, McClellan said in explaining his basic philosophy. The other thing is, you treat them right and be honest and fair... you don’t want to end a relationship. Scotty McClellan “My big break came in 1980, the year I started with Fernando Toro. That was the beginning of two 10-year runs, first with Toro and then with Gary Stevens starting in 1990. When Gary retired the first time, I went to work with Jerry for six years. After that I had Garrett, and Antley at the same time off and on. “People have asked me what it takes to become a top agent, and there’s no real blueprint to any of this. It’s all about being correct with people, doing the right things by them and remembering that when you answer to a trainer, there’s a trail of people that he has to answer to. “When you tell him you’re committing to his horse, that information trickles on to a gallop person, an owner, a groom, and hot walkers who are looking forward to and excited about a Bailey or a Stevens or a Rosario riding that horse. “So an agent has to be very careful, because when he tries to go back over those roads or bridges, it’s going to bite him in the ass unless he keeps people happy. That’s the hardest thing to do for a guy with a top rider: keeping everybody happy by winning; the owner, the trainer, the press, the jock. “My mentor, if I could say there was one, was Fernando as a jockey and Chick McClellan (late father of current longtime top agent Scotty McClellan). Chick taught me things most people wouldn’t be privy to.” Scotty, who enjoyed remarkable success with Hall of Fame members Chris McCarron and Alex Solis before taking 28-year-old dynamo Joe Talamo under his wing, still is a tad miffed that his father did not impart all that wisdom to him. “I wish he wouldn’t have taught Ron so well,” Scotty says, “because he went right to the top.”

Chick’s advice aside, Anderson wasn’t about to choke on humble pie. “At the risk of sounding boastful, I know I’m a really good agent,” he said, “but I’ve been fortunate in being in the right spots, too. “I’ve won 28 Breeders’ Cup races and 14 Triple Crown races. I’m 63 and plan to keep going as long as I feel well. Who wants to retire in this day and age? We like what we do, so as long as we can make a living and do what we want, it’s all good.” One thing that enables Anderson to maintain an even keel is his realistic perspective of human nature. He realizes horsemen deal with more than horses. “First off,” he said, “we’re in a business that if you’re winning at 15 or 20 percent, you’re setting the world on fire, so it’s a lot more negative than positive. “Second, there is so much more going on in most people’s lives than winning the third race on Friday. It could be turmoil with parents or kids, health issues, problems at work, trouble with spouses, so you’ve got to understand that when you approach people to make a pitch, it’s good to catch them at the right time and not be a source of annoyance.” McClellan, meanwhile, ranks in the upper echelon of agents thanks to seemingly infinite runs with McCarron and Solis. Now 62, McLellan is on another lengthy streak, this one with Talamo. “The main thing is to represent a good rider that people want,” McClellan said in explaining his basic philosophy. “The other thing is, you treat them right and be honest and fair ... you don’t want to end a relationship.” McClellan represented McCarron for 21 years, “from March 17, 1982, to June 23, 2002,” Scotty said, reeling off the dates like

he was reading from a Teleprompter. “We did great together, never could say a bad word about Chris. He never complained, always showed up and was consistent, not that we wouldn’t hit a slump once in a while, but not for very long. Alex and I were together 17 years and 13 or 14 of them were during the same time I had Chris. “I took Joe’s book when he was 18, so we’re coming up on 10 years. He’s won almost $100 million in purses and has just over 1,800 wins.” Asked what motivates him, in addition to the money that keeps more than just the wolf away from the door, McClellan said, “It’s exciting. You’re working outdoors with people you’ve dealt with for many years. Winning a Grade 1 race or the Derby is just phenomenal, but winning any kind of race makes you feel good. You’re happy for the connections who have worked so hard to get a win. People don’t realize how much has to go right to do that. “So many things can go wrong to prevent victory that when everything goes right and you win, it’s great. You go to the barn the next day and everyone is happy. It’s just a good feeling.” At 73, age is just a number for Tony Matos. On the chilliest Southern California morning, Matos can be seen pounding the backstretch beat, cargo shorts covering the unexposed portion of his weather-beaten legs, a pair of well-worn kicks on his feet, and a Michelin Man-style down jacket covering him midriff to neck, fending off nippy winds. It’s a ritual Matos has performed for 50 years. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He has reached racing’s pinnacle, winning the Kentucky Derby six times, with Angel ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



My father always told me as a kid, be nice to the janitor, because you never know when he’s going to be president.’ You’ve got to be nice to the small people because you never know when they’re going to be on top. Tony Matos Cordero Jr. twice, on Cannonade (1974) and Bold Forbes (1976); Laffit Pincay Jr. on Swale (1984); Kent Desormeaux aboard Real Quiet (1998) and Fusaichi Pegasus (2000); and Victor Espinoza on War Emblem (2002). All four jockeys are in the Hall of Fame, in addition to two other former Matos clients, Garrett Gomez and Gary Stevens, and one who despite the fact that he isn’t in, deserves mention, Chuck Baltazar. “But if it hadn’t been for my first rider, C.H. Marquez, around 1966,” Matos said, “I would have never been an agent. He was riding for my father (Carlos, who bred horses in Puerto Rico), and when I was going to the University of Louisville, Marquez asked me to get him a job in Kentucky and I hooked him up with a couple of trainers, dropped out of college in my last year and became an agent, and herre I am.

“Marquez’s son, C.H. Marquez Jr., is my godson, and he’s doing well as a jockey, too. “I also give a lot of credit to Jack Van Berg. He took a liking to me and I rode a lot of horses for him. It takes a combination of a good agent and good rider to be successful, but basically, if you ride for good people, you’re going to win races. “There are bumps in the road, but you’ve got to keep people happy. You can’t close any doors. My father always told me as a kid, ‘Be nice to the janitor, because you never know when he’s going to be president.’ You’ve got to be nice to the small people because you never know when they’re going to be on top.” Matos isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon. “I’ve got a great young apprentice in Evin Roman (winner of the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice of 2017), I’m healthy, and even though I’m up in age, I feel like a kid. I go the gym every day, keep myself in good shape, and have a good attitude. I’m always the same; I’m very positive.” “A man is not made for defeat . . . a man can be destroyed, but not defeated.” – Ernest Hemingway. Bill Sadoo is at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to representing internationally recognized and accomplished riders, but that doesn’t diminish the 42-year-old agent’s work ethic or intelligence quotient.

Currently booking mounts for 43-yearold veteran Ignacio (Iggy) Puglisi, Philadelphia-area native Sadoo is a fresh face with a passion that doesn’t grow stale: love of the game. “I’m a newcomer not only to the world of agenting, but also to Southern California the past three years,” Sadoo said. “I wasn’t worried about being an agent, given my background in the racing industry, but being new to the circuit has been a challenge, making it difficult establishing new relationships and letting people know what my jock has to offer. “Every rider has his own style, and I focus on accenting the positive with my guy, that’s first and foremost. Unfortunately, the way things are in Southern California right now, opportunities for riders who aren’t perceived to be among the top three or four don’t come often, and if things don’t go as planned, sometimes changes are made and it’s not always the rider’s fault. “It does test your patience and it can be frustrating, but like everything else in racing, you have to keep your emotions in check and try not to get too high or too low, win or lose.” Sadoo grew up “the son and grandson of gamblers turned horse owners,” which led to his breaking into the game in the midAtlantic region, “first at Penn National and Parx, then branching out to Delaware

I hope I wasn’t rude to agents when I was training, because agents have a rough time, they really do. They’re not always well received, unless a trainer needs them. Caesar Dominguez 58



Park, Gulfstream, Canterbury, Keeneland, and NYRA tracks. “I got involved in racing before returning in 2007 to Clemson University where I earned a degree in political science,” he said. “I worked for Penn National Gaming as mutuel manager for three years at several of their off-track facilities.” Caesar Dominguez has been on both sides of the fence, training since 1978 before recently trying his hand as an agent for nine months when his stable dwindled to four horses, his current number now that he’s training again. Trainers travel the softer road, said the affable Dominguez, 68, who began working for his uncles at age 10 when they trained Quarter Horses in Texas and New Mexico. “Training is a lot easier, because you have only four or five clients besides your help,” said Dominguez, a native of El Paso. “As an agent, you’re dealing with 200 trainers and for some reason they think you’re trying to take something away from them, and you’re not. You’re trying to provide a service, but if they don’t need you, they don’t always treat you well. “I hope I wasn’t rude to agents when I was training, because agents have a rough time, they really do. They’re not always well received, unless a trainer needs them. Of course, if you have a Mike Smith, they come and beg you to ride. “But the average jockey who is struggling and wants to work horses to pick up a mount sometimes is treated like he’s trying to pull the trainer’s teeth. It’s hard to explain to a jockey that if a trainer needs him, he’ll call him. Trainers don’t like agents bugging them, so an agent doesn’t have to be at the barn every day trying to get a mount. “I had (apprentice) Austin Solis (son of Alex) for eight months, until October of 2017, and we did well, winning 12 races.” For 30 days, Dominguez also represented Martin Garcia (who has since moved his tack to New York), winning six races, including the Grade 3 Precisionist by 14 lengths on Arrogate conqueror Collected


and an overnight race on multiple Grade 1 winner West Coast. Dominguez, 1989 Quarter Horse Trainer of the Year, has resumed training Thoroughbreds full time, but having seen how the other half lives, albeit for the proverbial cup of coffee, he’s not likely to brush off agents any time soon. At 85, Vince DeGregory is the senior agent in California, and perhaps on the planet. Still sharp as porcupine’s quill and tenacious as a crocodile’s bite, with the recall of a Jeopardy champion, DeGregory began booking mounts in the fall of 1959 at Aqueduct for an unknown kid from Puerto Rico named Angel Cordero Jr. He turned out to be but one of eight Hall of Fame jockeys DeGregory would represent in a career spanning seven decades, the others being Laffit Pincay Jr., Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Jorge Velazquez, Jacinto Vasquez, Alex Solis, and Victor Espinoza. He also handled business for Darrel McHargue and Joel Rosario, the latter one day likely to be the ninth DeGregory rider enshrined. There may be no budding superstars on the horizon for DeGregory these days, but after being sidelined nine months due to back surgery in late September of 2016, he has returned to Southern California’s backstretch in the morning, hawking his wares, despite rejection being g the norm more than commitment. “When a horse gets beat, th he ffiirst i person a trainer blames is the agent,, so you have to be thick-skinned,” DeGreg gory said. “That’s part of our business.”

Agents must be well-versed in reading and understanding the condition book and factoring which horse might be bestsuited to win a particular race. They are often as adept at this as trainers. “We know most of the horses in every trainer’s stable, so when the condition book comes out (usually every two weeks during a long meet) we have a general idea which trainers will have the right horse for a race,” DeGregory said. “We keep records of what horses are eligible for certain races, and we’ll call the racing office to find out for sure, so an agent can be helpful in guiding a trainer to enter a race he might otherwise have overlooked.” DeGregory’s first jockey was Conn Errico. “Eddie Arcaro got me to go to work for him,” Vince said, “but it was Cordero who had the big future, even though in the beginning he was struggling and no one knew who he was. “I was having dinner at my dad’s place (DeGregory’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York) with Arcaro, Shoemaker, and (silver screen star of the 1930s and 40s and future horse owner) Don Ameche and they mentioned Angel’s name. I didn’t know who he was . . . It was (fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Belmonte who brought him to New York.” With a rich and captivating tapestry of tales gleaned from icons such as Calumet, Vanderbilt, duPont, and their illustrious ilk, stockpiled from his affiliations through more than half a century of mingling with millionaires and misanthropes alike, Vince Degregory could author a litany of tell-all memoirs. But no. DeGregory has been made offers he can refuse. “I could write a book and I could use the money,” he said. “But I won’t. “The game’s been too good to me.”

When a horse gets beat, the first person a trainer blames is the agent, so you have to be thick-skinned. That’s part of our business. Vince DeGregory ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



IS EIPH BEYOND THE SCOPE OF D I E T A RY C H A N G E ? Dr. Catherine Dunnett BSC, PHD, R.NUTR Alamy, Eclipse Sportswire






xercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) has been a concern to trainers for a very long time. The historic record of EIPH in horses such as “Bleeding Childers,” a son of the Darley Ar Arabian, who was a Ara founder of the modern Thoroughbred, shows that ‘ bleeding,’ as it is commonly known, n, is an age-old problem. The prevalence of EIPH during high-intensity ty exercise such as racing is relatively high but infl fluenced greatly by how it is diagnosed. For flu example, it is quite low when the appearance of blood from the nostrils (epistaxis) is used as the diagnostic criteria. Unsurprisingly, it is much higher when more rigorous investigative techniques such as endoscopy or bronchioalveolar lavage are used. Additionally, the prevalence increases when horses are repeatedly examined. In clinical terms, it has been suggested that if you look hard enough and oft ften enough diagnostically almost all horses fte will show a degree of EIPH wi wil wi with racing at some time. A wit large Australian study has also reported that there is a proven heritability or genetic element to this condition. Notwi withstanding this, EIPH presents a major concern wit for horses in training, as it often leads to loss in training days and may impact race performance, although this seems to be dependent on the degree or grade of EIPH involved. A period of absence from the racecourse can also be a requirement of some racing jurisdictions, e.g. the British Horseracing Authority in the UK..., followi wing win epistaxis, where blood is seen viissually from one or both nostrils. Public perception is also relevant, especially when the public mood puts racing under tighter scrutiny in terms of animal welfare. There is also a mood for change with regards to the previ wit wi viously wi vio widespread use of pre-race wid medications, such as furosemide (which has been wi widely wid used to treat EIPH) in countries such as the U.S., where the Arabian Jockey Club has recently announced that it wil ill run ‘Lasix-free’ races, a move that has been wid idely welcomed by trainers worldwiid de. In some racing jurisdictions, nasal strips can be used. These support the tissues of the nasal caviitty, helping to keep the upper airway fully open during exercise. There is evid idence to suggest that nasal strips reduce upper airway resistance. Some prominent veterinarians and exercise physiologists have proposed that there is suff ffic ffi icient scientifi fic evid fic idence to support the use of nasal strips in the management of EIPH. However, despite being a non-invasive tool, their use is not currently allowed in all racing jurisdictions, including in the U.K. While there is always a drive to discover new medications that wil ill eff ffectively control or treat EIPH ffe within the rules of racing, diet and other complementary wit wi practices have always been of parallel interest to trainers. The central paradigm to EIPH is that the membrane layer that exists between the alveolar air and the blood vessels is miniscule, representing a physiological cliff ff edge. This membrane must be suff ffic ffi iciently thin to allow eff ffic ffi icient gas exchange, which makes it very vu vulnerable to physical vul damage when under increased physiological stress, e.g. during hard work and racing when a massive increase in gaseous exchange is required.




From previous published research, EIPH seems to be a progressive disease, with time in racing being a significant factor. A current theory is that there is a progressive narrowing of the pulmonary veins, a result of strengthening of these vessel walls due to smooth muscle expansion or hypertrophy, as well as collagen deposition in the vessels themselves. Interestingly, in human studies where pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the vessels supplying the lungs) exists, medics have also described calcium deposits or plaques in the pulmonary vessels, which would contribute to a loss of elasticity. This was also investigated in a Canadian study of 108 racing horses that had died or were euthanized, and the authors found a high presence of calcium deposition within the tunica media (muscular middle layer) of the pulmonary arteries. My interest of course is due to the dietary implication of this theory, and it may be an example of barking up the wrong ‘vitamin tree.’ Vitamin K has featured for many years in supplements seeking to nutritionally address the issue of EIPH in the miss-held belief that inappropriate clotting is involved in its mechanism. Vitamin K has a well-defined role in clotting, and largely synthetic forms of vitamin K (menadione) have been employed in equine nutrition to ‘solve’ this non-issue. However, vitamin K also has a central role to play in calcium homeostasis by activating GLA proteins, as these are called, in the body, including osteocalcin and matrix GLA protein. Matrix GLA protein is responsible for scavenging calcium from areas of unwanted deposition, such as blood vessel walls and soft tissue, and driving its repatriation back into bone. ‘Dr Green’ seems to be on the case again, as





vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), the predominant natural source of which is actively growing green pasture, holds the key to activation of these GLA proteins in horses. The widely used synthetic vitamin K or menadione does not exhibit this function. It would certainly be interesting to see whether activation of GLA protein is sub-optimal in EIPH-positive horses compared to EIPH-negative horses. Fresh and actively growing grass is of course notably absent from most racing diets, with the exception perhaps of places like New Zealand. It is also noteworthy that vitamin K1 in the normal diet is unstable and is rapidly lost from pasture converted to hay or other harvested forage (see European Trainer issue 32 article, “Vitamin K -- the forgotten vitamin,” published in 2010) The overarching focus of nutrition in relation to EIPH has been to tackle perceived pinch points, or potential weaknesses, in the horse’s physiological systems that may contribute to the expression of EIPH. Typical areas for focus have been collagen synthesis, blood clotting, inflammation, respiratory challenge, water balance, and hemodynamics. Given that research scientists do not currently have a definitive explanation of the mechanism or etiology for EIPH and there are no treatment options with 100% certainty, it is difficult to see how a simple dietary intervention could prevent EIPH in isolation. However, nutrition offers a relatively benign method to potentially reduce some of the risk factors that may be involved in the expression of EIPH and reduce its severity. Vitamin C, either in isolation or in combination with other nutrients with antioxidant activity, has also been






look ked at in relation to airway inflammation l and cap pillary fragility, whiich could be regardeed as risk k factors for EIPH. Vitamin C is the maain water-solu uble antioxidant foun nd in lung-lining flu luid and is also required for a key stage in collagen synthesis, which adds strength to blood vessel walls. While no direct benefit of vitamin C on the instance of EIPH has been reported, there are several studies that suggest an improvement in airway inflammation as a consequence of supplementation. Certainly, as part of a multifaceted approach, normalization of airway inflammation must surely be beneficial, but supplementation is not necessarily the answer, as a good racing diet should provide sufficient antioxidants and their co-factors and horses do not have a dietary requirement for vitamin C under normal circumstances. However, clinical need supplementation with a bioavailable form of vitamin C may be a benefit. Airway inflammation is certainly an issue in horses in training, and any measure to normalize this should be beneficial, with a low-dust environment, high-quality feed, and forage with a microbiological fitness to feed being essential. Feeding hay, in conjunction with an appropriate proven protocol for steaming, will also help to reduce the drivers of airway inflammation to which horses in training can be exposed. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator through its action in relaxing vascular smooth muscle and it is produced locally by the action of nitric oxide synthase. Some feed supplements have drawn on this action to suggest the benefit of various ingredients that act as precursors or




ABOVE: Studies have suggestted that Vitamin C can heelp strengthhen the bloood vessel walls

stimulants of nitric oxide synthesis, although a clinical trial to investigate the effect of inhalation of nitric oxide resulted in a negative effect on EIPH. Omega-3 fatty acids have been investigated for their ability to increase the fluidity, flexibility, or ease of travel of red blood cells through blood vessels, which could potentially reduce resistance to the flow of blood during exercise. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are antiin nflammatory in nature compared to their omega-6 counterparts, which may also have some beneficial effect on airway inflammation. There have been three published studies on horses that suggest that supplementation with long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA can at least reduce the severity of EIPH. The omega-3 fatty acid content of a racehorseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diet is normally quite low, as pasture represents one of the most significant sources under normal conditions. Analysis of ryegrass, fescue, and orchard grass in Canada has shown that the parent omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid is quantitatively the most significant fatty acid in pasture. However, the conversion of linolenic acid to the physiologically more functional DHA and EPA is relatively inefficient, at about 5% conversion. Other ingredients such as salmon oil, tuna oil, and certain algae can offer a richer source of DHA and EPA, although this must be balanced against the volume of pasture and hence linolenic acid that could be potentially be consumed by a horse at pasture for part of the day. In summary, it is very unlikely that there are any nutritional panaceas for EIPH at present or even on the horizon, but there are a few practices and nutritional factors which collectively, under veterinary supervision, may help to move horses at risk of EIPH a little further away from the proverbial cliff edge. The availability of pasture, in terms of omega-3 and vitamin K1 intake, as well as the beneficial effect of a non-stable environment on airway inflammation should perhaps be investigated further in horses at risk of EIPH. However, given the suggested genetic component to this disease, the question of desirability perhaps needs to be asked in parallel.


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Shutterstock, Professor Peter Clegg

endon injuries continue to be one of the most problematic injuries that affect racehorses. One of major issues facing veterinarians and trainers is that we have little understanding of why tendons become injured in the first place, how such injuries may be prevented, and, importantly, what treatments really work to improve tendon healing subsequent to injury. Currently it can be argued that there are no treatments for tendon injuries that have good evidence of benefit over rest and exercise rehabilitation on their own. Tendon injuries are common. Analysis of injuries sustained on British racecourses in the 1996–1998 racing seasons identified that 46% of injuries were to either tendon or ligaments, with the incidence of such injuries being greater in steeplechasers than horses used for hurdling. The importance of these injuries in racing was further highlighted in a cohort study undertaken at six racecourses in 2000 and 2001. This study identified that injuries to tendon or


ligaments were the most frequent cause of injury during racing, with a frequency of 6.9/1000 starts. Of these injuries reported in this study, 90% occurred within the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT). In the U.K. these injuries to National Hunt horses occurred at an incidence rate of 1.9/100 horses/ per month in training, with 41% of such injuries occurring during racing and 59% occurring during training. Interestingly, of the injuries that were sustained during racing, 7% necessitated euthanasia, in comparison to 1% requiring euthanasia for training injuries. Different trainers have differing incidence (between 10 and 40%) of tendon injuries in their horses, and increasing age has repeatedly been shown to increase the risk of injury. One of the biggest risk factors for occurrence of a tendon injury is a horse having had a previous tendon injury, and data has shown that 53% of horses which return to racing following a tendon injury re-injure their tendon at some stage. Firstly, to understand the problems associated with tendons, it is important to understand the function of tendon. All


tendons connect muscle to bone, enabling muscle power to be transferred to bones to allow movement. However, tendons may have other functions in addition to purely force transmission. Certain tendons have adapted to become highly elastic rubberband-like structures, storing and releasing mechanical energy during movement with the aim of decreasing the amount of energy needed to move. It has been shown that the equine SDFT stretches and recoils up to 20% of its length with each stride at the gallop, and the energystoring property of this tendon increases the energy efficiency of the gallop in the horse by 36%. In simplistic terms, the SDFT acts like the spring of a pogo stick, stretching and storing energy as a horse lands and releasing energy to aid a horse’s locomotion as the limb pushes off. There is a lot of clinical and research focus on these “energy-storing” tendons such as the equine SDFT as they are most prone to injury, and it appears to be a property of the function of such high-strain, elastic tendons that results in these significant injuries leading to so much economic loss and welfare issues for the affected horses. Under such extreme mechanical demands, it is not surprising the SDFT is prone to overuse injury, particularly amongst racehorses. SDFT injuries are highly debilitating, requiring considerable rehabilitation periods and are often career limiting. There is little convincing evidence of efficacy for any current treatment, and even after extensive periods of rest and rehabilitation, re-injury rates are extremely high, with little knowledge of how best to safely reintroduce training. In the horse, tendons are also extremely long, due to ISSUE 47 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



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Fig 1 A cut section across a superficial digital flexxor tendon from a 7 year old Thoroughbred in training. Note the honeyccombed appearance of the tendon which is present because of the inteerfascicular matrix (IFM) surrounding the tendon fascicles. Much of thhe functional properties of the tendon arise from the IFM

the length of a horse’s leg. In the horse’s forelimb, there is no muscle lower in the leg than the level of the knee (carpal) joints, and tendons mainly extend from the leveel of the knee down to the hoof. To understand why tendons such as the equine SDFT become injured and how we may develop methods to allow better treatments, we and other researchers have been developing an understanding of how elastic energy-storing tendons function and how they fail. We have recent, exciting data that leads us to believe that tendon injury occurs because of ageing or damage within a specific part of the tendon structure called the interfascicular matrix (IFM). The IFM is also known by some people as “the endotenon.” Tendon is like braided rope, with the IFM connecting the rope strands laterally. Our evidence shows that the IFM is both stretchy and lubricating to allow the rope strands to slide around relative to each other, but as a tendon ages or becomes damaged, this mechanism does not work as well. Separately, we have shown that tendon overuse causes damage and inflammation in the IFM. Combining these results leads us to think that the changes in the IFM with age cause damage to occur more easily to this region, and leading to tendinopathy. The main molecule that makes up tendons are long rope-like proteins called collagens. In particular, in tendons, a specific collagen (Collagen-I) is bundled together into ropes of many thousands of collagen fibers and fibrils to ultimately form tendon structures known as fascicles. Fascicles are like individual strands or threads that make up a rope and are approximately half a millimeter in diameter. If a cut tendon is examined




at post-mortem, it has a honeycombedliked appearance from are the individual fascicles, with the IFM surrounding each fascicle (Fig 1). Interestingly, when we use ultrasound to examine a tendon as part of a clinical examination, the fascicle is the smallest part of the tendon which we define ultrasonographically, and the presence of ordered fascicles is a good sign for tendon health (Fig 2). Historically, the collagen that makes up the majority of a tendon has been the main focus of interest in trying to understand why tendons are so commonly injured and why they never heal particularly well following injury. However, the central role of collagen to tendon function has been recently questioned. Undoubtedly, this molecule is important to tendons, but while the collagen material in a tendon has a major role in providing structural strength to a tendon, it has only a minor role in allowing a tendon to perform as an elastic structure. The collagen molecules that make up most of the tendon are like the large metal reinforcing rods used in the construction of large buildings. They give a lot of the strength to the material, but don’t fully affect the functional properties of a tendon. Another aspect of the collagen in tendon is that it is an extremely long-lived molecule and through life is hardly turnedover, so the body has very little capacity to repair damage. Research has shown that the half-life of a collagen molecule in a horse

Fig 2 A longitudinal ultrasound scan of a tendon. Note the longitudinal striations present in the scan. These occur due to echos from the individual tendon fascicles. The presence of this longitudinal pattern can be a good indicator of tendon health Fig 3 A longitudinal ultrasound scan of a tendon from a 7 year old Thoroughbred which sustained an injury to this tendon 12 months previously. Note the loss of longitudinal striations present in the scan. This is because the tendon has failed to regenerate the interfascicular matrix during healing. This tendon is likely to be at a high risk of re-injury once it returns to fast work. Fig 4 A cut section across a superficial digital flexor tendon from a 9 year old Thoroughbred which sustained an injury to this tendon 9 months previously. Note (in comparison to the normal tendon in Fig 1) the loss of the honeycombed pattern of the interfascicular matrix (IFM) in the centre of the tendon. This is because the normal tendon has been replaced by scar tissue which lacks the functional properties of elasticity arising from the IFM.

tendon is probably well over 200 years, meaning that most horses will not repair or replace most of the collagen in their tendons between the time they stop growing to the point that they die. The unique properties of the equine SDFT, which in part makes the horse such a superb athlete, are due to its elastic structure. These elastic properties of tendon derive almost entirely from the IFM, which contains a lot of specialized molecules

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that allow low-friction sliding between the collagen fascicles (proteoglycans) and elastic recoil. In the horse, this part of the tendon is uniquely adapted to both allow tendon extension and recoil as well as to withstand multiple cycles of loading, which would occur with fast galloping exercise over considerable distances. Interestingly, it has been shown in a number of different studies that older horses are at increased risk of tendon injury. Coupled with this finding is the discovery that the IFM in older horses loses its ability to slide and extend as easily and loses its elasticity to some extent. Also, this part of the tendon in older horses becomes less able to withstand the repeated loading that comes with fast exercise, and as a consequence, is more likely to become damaged with repeated loading. Overall the IFM in older horses is stiffer, meaning that the collagenous tissue in tendons is likely to become loaded at an earlier part of weight bearing at the gallop, leading to a greater likelihood of overall tendon injury. Another recent research finding is that when a tendon is subjected to repeated loading analogous to the loading a tendon may receive during galloping exercise, early damage is seen to occur specifically in the IFM, and as a consequence the cells present in the IFM respond and produce an inflammatory response (like a local bruise). Thus the IFM tendon is not only important for the elastic function of the tendon but there is now evidence that the earliest stage of injury probably starts in this part of the tendon. As mentioned earlier, one of the problems with tendon injuries is that the tendon does not heal appropriately


Fig 5 An experimental high field MRI of a superficial digital flexor tendon. Note with this imaging technique it is possible to fully assess the interfascicular matrix organization in a tendon. Further development work will be necessary to move this type of imaging into clinical practice.



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post-injury. The tendon heals by forming a scar tissue, which while often very mechanically strong is much stiffer and less elastic than normal tissue. Hence, an injured tendon is often mechanically very different from a normal tendon, even once healing is complete. There is often a marked discrepancy in the elastic properties of the normal tendon and the scarred tendon tissue, and it is at the interface between the two different tissues that re-injury occurs during a horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future racing career. We have observed that one of the major issues with the scarred tendon repair tissue is that it totally fails to reform any structure that is like an IFM (Fig 3), so repair tissue in tendon is unable to extend and work elastically. This is probably one of the main reasons why tendon repair is currently inadequate. Understanding these mechanisms of tendon function and failure opens up the possibilities to make progress in both preventing and treating tendon injuries in a more optimal manner. Using current imaging technology, this understanding identifies the importance of the fascicular and IFM structure, which can be currently imaged using ultrasound, and emphasizes the importance of identification of reformation of this structural appearance in injured horses before they are allowed to undergo fast work again after injury (Fig 2 and 4). It also identifies the need to develop better imaging methodologies that could be used to assist diagnosis

and management of tendon injuries. An example of this is high-field MRI, which allows exquisitely detailed imaging of the key tendon structure (Fig 5) in the research laboratory. There is also the potential for development of novel ultrasound imaging technologies that will allow dynamic measurement of sliding of the fascicles and potentially identify tendons at altered risk of injury, as well as assist with the rehabilitation of injured horses while they return to work. Such technology is being developed in our laboratories at the moment through generous support from the Horserace Betting Levy Board in the U.K. Regenerative therapies specifically targeting regeneration of the IFM need to be developed as we think this is key to long-term healthy tendon function following injury. Finally, we need to understand how the properties of tendons develop as a foal grows to learn whether we can intervene at this stage to allow formation of a healthier, less injury-prone tendon. We have evidence that the IFM undergoes considerable adaptation during the initial development and weanling stage of growth. It is an exciting time for understanding tendon injury, its treatment, and its prevention in the horse. We are now much closer to understanding the biological causes of this frustrating condition, and this gives us the potential to really make major advances in the next five-10 years, which will be of substantial benefit to the horse.


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orm McKnight finished the 2017 season at Woodbine Racetrack as the meet’s leading trainer, ending Mark Casse’s run of 10 consecutive Woodbine training titles that began back in 2007. The trainers’ race came down to the final day, with McKnight recording five winners from six starters on the card to earn his first Woodbine training title. “The whole season itself is very gratifying with the results we were able to produce,” McKnight said. “Being leading trainer is nice. I can’t say that it’s not. It gives you a fulfilling feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t think it was attainable until the last day, virtually. We had six runners in and they were all live. It was a magical day. The horses just came out and they ran right through their bridles.” Despite his success in recent years at Woodbine, McKnight never expected to be a Thoroughbred trainer. The 61-year-old grew up on his family farm in Alymer, Ontario, and became involved with riding show horses when he was eight years old. Four years later, McKnight’s father, Norm McKnight Sr., purchased his first Standardbred racehorse, and the younger McKnight caught the racing bug. He drove his first Standardbred horse when he was 12, took out his trainer license when he was 16, and had a successful training and driving career, recording more than 1,500 wins. The biggest win of his harness racing career came in 1991 in the Confederation Cup with Arcane Hanover. Tragic circumstances led to McKnight’s transition to Thoroughbred racing, however. He was stabled at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ontario, in 1991 when a barn fire claimed the lives of 14 of his 15-horse stable. “It kind of wiped me out,” McKnight said. “I lost everything.” Following the fire, McKnight continued his career as a Standardbred driver but began helping out Thoroughbred trainer Rita Schnitzler. When he first started working with Thoroughbreds, the concept of different distances and different surfaces for the horses was foreign to

McKnight with his background in Standardbred racing. He continued on it with, however, and eventually went off and began training on his own in 1999. “There’s different ways of training and it was a learning curve for me,” McKnight said. “Coming from Standardbreds to the Thoroughbreds, it’s been all trial and error. If you’re not happy with your results one year, you try something different and you keep going until you get to where you’re achieving your goals and horses are performing the way you want them to. When I first came in, it took me several years to get to where we are now and it was all a learning process.” McKnight said that one thing he has learned over the years is how to read the body language of his horses. “Each year we had to change our training program and our training regimen for each animal and just try to figure out what made them run,” he said. “What are they asking us to do for them? It’s all body language in their own way and it’s figuring them out; listening to them by their body movement, what they’re trying to say to you, and adjusting accordingly.” McKnight is a hands-on trainer. He begins his day by getting up at three o’clock in the morning and heading out to the barn, arriving at four o’clock to feed all of his horses. He likes to feed his own horses before his staff arrives in order to observe each horse in a quiet environment. “You see a lot of things first thing in the morning when it’s quiet that you maybe wouldn’t see once the day gets going,” he said. “I can take my time, see who ate the previous night, see who didn’t eat, and make sure that they all go to their tubs in the morning. I give them a once over as I feed them to see if there’s anything abnormal.” Once training begins, McKnight goes back and forth between the track and the barn with each set to observe how his horses are moving. In the past, McKnight used to do his own galloping but has since decided he would prefer to have his feet on the ground during training hours. “When I made the transition to Thoroughbreds, naturally, I had to do my own galloping,” he said. “I did that for about 15 years. I hadn’t been dumped yet and I





hadn’t got hurt, so I said before that happens, let’s just hang this up and move on.” Following morning training, McKnight works with his blacksmith, sets the training schedule for the next day, and ensures that each horse receives any prescribed medications they require. “Coming from Standardbreds, I like to shoe my horse a certain way, so I work with a blacksmith that understands what I’m trying to relate to them,” he said. McKnight said he typically wraps up his day around five o’clock, unless one of his horses is racing. Despite the long hours, he said he is enjoying training Thoroughbreds. “I much prefer the Thoroughbreds, even though it’s a long day,” he said. “It’s long day because I make it long. I really am focused on being successful and building a solid business.” As McKnight has adjusted his training program each year, his results have improved considerably. He hit the 30-win mark for the first time in his career in 2014 with 34 victories, and then won 30 races again in 2015. His win total has improved considerably over the last two seasons, as he recorded 59 wins in 2016 and 99 wins in 2017. McKnight said one factor that has contributed to his success is a better understanding of finding the right races for his horses. “I think in the last few years I’ve been able to classify better and read the condition book better,” he said. “I understand the value of my animals better and classify them properly. I think classification of the animal is the key to success.” As a result, McKnight is very aggressive in picking spots for his horses to get to the winner’s circle as much as they can, and acknowledges that his program doesn’t suit every owner. “Whenever we have people that come on board, we sit down with them and find out what their goals are,” he said.




BELOW: McKnight and his team after clinching the Woodbine training title.

“I listen to them and then tell them what my goals are and see if we can’t meet in the middleground and achieve them together. If somebody is just adamant that their horse is just a stakes horse and they’ll never run in a claimer, then I’m not the guy for you because I don’t want to lead a horse over there that’s 10-1, 15-1, or 20-1. It’s hard enough to win when you go over there and you’re 3-1.” With the recent success, McKnight has been able to expand his stable and will race during the winter for the first time in 18 years at Oaklawn Park this season. He said the time felt right to give winter racing a shot, and he believes the Oaklawn program fits nicely with the type of horses he currently has in his care. “My stable grew exponentially,” he said. “Historically, I could never justify it financially because it’s a very expensive move. This year, with the way the business has grown and the momentum that we had, I thought it was the right thing to do to try and continue to build our business.” The winter conditioning could go a long way in giving McKnight’s horses a head start in defending his Woodbine training title in 2018 when the meet kicks off in April.





he Pennsylvania breeding program, one of the most lucrative in the country, is now giving owners and breeders even more reason to race and foal in the state. In 2018, several major enhancements to the program will commence: Higher breeder awards in any class of maiden race for Pennsylvaniabreds; protection for the Race Horse Development Fund monies; as well as expanded bonuses for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, which will be available to Pennsylvania-bred or Pennsylvania-sired horses that finish in the money in the Grade 1 event. In maiden races, the breeder award for a Pennsylvaniasired, Pennsylvania-bred horse that finishes first, second, or third in any class of maiden race within the state has increased to 50 percent of purse share earned, up from the previous 40 percent, while a non-Pennsylvania-sired horse will get 25 percent, up from the previous 20 percent.



Linda Dougherty Jennifer Poorman

“We wanted to get more money to the breeders,” said Brian Sanfratello, executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA). “In addition, since Pennsylvania-breds are an excellent commodity, we thought if we could raise the breeder awards in maiden races they could bring more money at the sales, or be more desirable to be claimed.” Henry “Hank” Nothhaft, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has invested heavily in the Pennsylvania breeding and racing programs and is the breeder of Eclipse Awardwinning Pennsylvania-bred sprinter Finest City, gave his thoughts on the additional maiden bonuses. “The increase in maiden bonuses is one of many important steps to make breeding horses in Pennsylvania a viable economic proposition, not just a hobby,” said Nothhaft. Nothhaft pointed out that the financial viability to the breeder is based on the breeder awards earned by the

| PA B R E E D E R S |

horse, and front-ending additional maiden dollars are a strong incentive to patronize the program. “Anything to strengthen the front end and improve the viability of the breeder’s economics is crucial,” he added. Bob Hutt, president of Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC, which stands and supports the stallion Uptowncharlybrown — who closed out 2017 at second in the second-crop sire standings in Pennsylvania and third in the mid-Atlantic region — at Diamond B Farm in Mohrsville, is also enthusiastic about the enhanced maiden bonuses. “Now that the PHBA has increased the Pennsylvania-bred and -sired maiden bonus to 50 percent, when you break your maiden, you basically own your horse for free,” said Hutt, who noted that, in a $45,000 maiden race, a breeder could potentially take home more than $64,000 for a winning effort. “That’s almost the equivalent of winning a $100,000 overnight stake race anywhere else in the country,” said Hutt. Also this year, there will be additional bonuses for owners and breeders of three-year-olds that hit the board in the $1 million, Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. Any Pennsylvania-bred or Pennsylvania-sired horse that wins the Pennsylvania Derby would earn a $200,000 bonus for the owner and $50,000 for the breeder. A horse that finishes second or third in the Pennsylvania Derby would earn a $75,000 bonus for the owner and $25,000 for the breeder. The 1Ð-mile Pennsylvania Derby is typically scheduled for the third Saturday in September, positioning it as an important prep race for the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Breeders will also be pleased to know that legislation signed on October 30th by Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf guarantees the current funding level of the Race Horse Development Fund from the state’s slots program. The fund, which receives a percentage of slots revenue at racetrack casinos, distributes money to purses at Pennsylvania tracks, breeding development programs, and horsemen’s pension and health plans.

ANY PENNSYLVANIABRED OR PENNSYLVANIASIRED HORSE THAT WINS THE PENNSYLVANIA DERBY WOULD EARN A $200,000 BONUS FOR THE OWNER AND $50,000 FOR THE BREEDER. But in recent years, lawmakers have raided the fund in order to cover budget shortfalls in other areas. The new legislation, which renames the fund to the “Race Horse Development Trust Fund,” protects the money from being used for things other than its intended purpose. “The way the legislation was written, it has a clawback revision,” said Sanfratello. “If lawmakers take money from it again, then they have to give us back everything that they took since 2009, or they have to refund about $220 million.” Racing and breeding officials have noted that annual diversion, or the threat of diversion, of fund money has hurt the growth of the industry because of perceived instability in the amount available each year. In addition, the annual announcement that the fund was being eyed by lawmakers seemed to coincide with the beginning of the breeding season, causing many breeders to either foal in other states or cease breeding altogether. “The annual raid fear caused a number of Pennsylvania-based farms and mares not to be bred or to be sold off completely, reducing the pool,” said Nothhaft. “The overall viability of the Pennsylvania program was in question and caused people to act accordingly as evidenced by our declining foal crops. Hopefully, we have turned the corner.” Nothhaft said that the other effect is on entities considering new investments, including farms and livestock, in the state.




| PA B R E E D E R S |

“Farms and high-end bloodstock require significant investment,” said Nothhaft. “Therefore, I believe now that the fund seems stable, not only will more investments take place, but the quality of the investments will improve as well.” Nothhaft said his own Thoroughbred operation is a case in point. At the time the legislation was passed to place the fund into a trust, his broodmare band at Northview-Pa had declined from 12 mares to one mare. But since Governor Wolf signed it into law, he has increased his band to seven mares. “Right now, given the risk-reward of breeding, racing, and selling Pennsylvania-breds, I think it is the best


program in the country,” he said. “I believe the overall incentives offered by the Pennsylvania breeding program are second to none,” said Hutt. “The trust that was recently established now fully protects all Pennsylvania breeders.” “This will be the sixth consecutive year that the program has distributed more than $30 million in awards and bonuses,” said Sanfratello. “This is a great time to participate in Pennsylvania racing and breeding.”

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THE GRASS IS GREENER STATESIDE necdotally, you’ve noticed more and more grass racing nowadays, so I asked researcher Chris Rossi to provide some facts, and he did. The conclusion: Over the last 25 years, opportunities for turf horses in the United States of America have never been greater than they are now. Since 1953, when Chilean-bred Iceberg ll was crowned the first American turf champion, America has had a lucrative turf stakes program, mostly for older runners. Let’s quantify it over the last quartercentury: In 1993, 148 of 448 Graded races, or 33 percent, were on turf. Last year, 178 of 455 Graded races, or 39 percent, were conducted on turf. While the 2017 numbers are six-percent higher than from 25 years ago, the uptick is modest in relation to the double-digit gains all around for turf racing beneath the Graded stakes level. In 1993, six percent of all races (excluding jumps racing) were on turf; in contrast, that figure was 17 percent in 2017 – a significant increase. The effect has been amplified as racing has contracted over the same time frame, from 65,123 races to 37,483, while the foal crop in America has shrunk from the mid30,000 range to the low 20,000 mark. And how about this startling statistic? There were only 58 maiden special weights on turf for two-year-olds 25 years ago, but last year there were 265. And the percentage of all maiden special races on turf has risen from eight to 22 over the same time span. This indicates there’s a program in place now to develop American turf horses from the get-go, instead of a haphazard route to grass. Before, poor dirt performers running out of options were tried on turf as a last resort, or older dirt horses were switched to grass for the money on offer in turf stakes races.



There’s now more money to be made on U.S. racetracks by patronizing turf horses at stud. And because turf is largely synonymous with distance, the profile of the breed will be affected, too. Before, at various times in



recent history, these types were used either by commercial breeders and owner-breeders at the top end of the spectrum or largely ignored and/or sold abroad. If a turf horse made it here it was because he got good dirt horses, or because his sons and daughters were in high demand for European racing and were sustained by the elite commercial marketplace, as happened in the 1980s when some of the best turf sires in the world stood in America. Some turf stallions made the transition to dirt, others didn’t, but now that the racing landscape Stateside is more turffriendly, more horses with turf form or breeding are entering stud at an increasing rate at various price points. And they are now viable options for breeders and buyers alike at all levels.

THERE’S NOW MORE MONEY TO BE MADE ON U.S. RACETRACKS BY PATRONIZING TURF HORSES AT STUD. Kitten’s Joy, the 2004 champion turf horse, is an important figure in this transition. A son of the imported Sadler’s Wells horse El Prado – who got dirt and turf runners – Kitten’s Joy did the unthinkable in 2013 when he led the general sire list as primarily a sire of American turf and all-weather horses. Unlike other turf champions from the past that have led the general sire list, like Round Table in 1972, T.V. Lark in 1974, and Dr. Fager in 1977, Kitten’s Joy doesn’t get many high-quality dirt runners. All 11 of his G1 winners to date are turf horses, and he has essentially demonstrated that a living can be made on American grass alone. That was implausible in the past. In 1993, the champion turf horse was the ex-European Kotashaan, a French-bred son of Darshaan. He was sold to Japan

at the end of his racing career, as was the 1994 champion, U.S.-bred Paradise Creek, a son of the imported Irish River. Neither was considered viable enough to stand at stud here, especially versus the money to be made by selling abroad. The 1995 champion was Irish-bred Northern Spur, a son of Sadler’s Wells who did stand in America, but not successfully, and he seemed to prove the point. Of course, back then his progeny didn’t have the opportunities that the Kitten’s Joys do now. Between this group and Kitten’s Joy in 2004 came the foreign raiders – European-raced or -bred turf champions Singspiel (1996), Daylami (1999), Kalanisi (2000), Fantastic Light (2001), and High Chaparral (2002 and 2003), none of which entered stud in the U.S. The 1997 champion was Chief Bearhart, a Canadianbred who was sold to Japan, and the 1998 champion was Buck’s Boy, a gelding. Since Kitten’s Joy, most turf champions, excluding geldings Wise Dan (2012 and 2013) and Main Sequence (2014), have been given an opportunity at stud in America – an example of the cultural shift that’s represented by the statistics noted here. Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux (2005) started here and transcended turf by getting Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. English Channel (2007) has become an excellent turf sire who gets the good dirt horse now and then, too. Gio Ponti (2009 and 2010) got a Queen’s Plate winner on the all-weather and a champion dirt sprinter in his first crop. Irish-bred Cape Blanco (2011) started here before going to Japan, and Big Blue Kitten (2015) and British-bred Flintshire (2016) have begun their stud careers in Kentucky. Only Miesque’s Approval (2006), who was sold to South Africa, and Irish-bred raider Conduit (2008) did not enter stud here. Aside from the turf champions noted here, there are a number of other stallions with turf profiles that are now at stud too, and their assimilation into the population will be beneficial for the long-term development of the breed. That makes the grass greener here in more ways than one.


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Trainer Magazine: North American Edition, issue 47 - Spring 2018  
Trainer Magazine: North American Edition, issue 47 - Spring 2018