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“No matter what anybody says, and no matter how brilliant somebody would like to appear, it’s really all about the horses”


What the future holds for the Ontario oval


RIDE & GUIDE Which bit is best?






Bill Mott – our man of the moment

It’s somewhat hard to believe that our cover profile trainer, Bill Mott, marks 2018 as the 40th anniversary of his training career. Such an iconic name, I honestly thought that his training career was longer! But in the past forty years, he has been synonymous with both the development of many household names and with Breeders’ Cup success. To get the best out of his trainees, it would be fair to say that sometimes Mott is prepared to take seemingly unconventional paths with his horses to make them into racehorses. Take Cigar, a horse with a mainly turf pedigree, his sire Palace Music, raced on the grass and it was only natural that his son would probably find form on the green. But his first handler, Alex Hassinger Jr., knew something different and was the first to try his charge on the dirt before switching to the turf. After an enforced year out of racing due to injury and a switch to the east coast tracks - Cigar (who was named after an airline part not after rolled tobacco), well, his career literally took off. He retired $185 short of becoming the first horse to hit the $10,000,000 earning mark, a record not achieved until just ten years ago when Curlin was in his prime. It’s now 23 years since Cigar won his Breeders’ Cup Classic for Mott and seven years since the Breeders’ Cup was last contested at Churchill Downs when another Mott trainee, Drosselmeyer, won the Classic. This year, Mott returns to Churchill Downs with solid claims to equaling Bob Baffert’s record for the number of Classic victories. One of his potential candidates for the Classic follows a typical Mott pattern. Yoshida has a resume suited to the grass—a surface he raced on exclusively until this summer. He took to the dirt track like a duck to water when scoring at the first time of asking on the dirt when turning out a convincing performance in the Woodward at Saratoga this past summer. You have to respect Mott’s judgement. We live in an age where trainers are often subject to scrutiny thanks to the handicapping media, past performances and some owners’ ideals, which can cause a trainer’s fear of “win percentages”. Some trainers undoubtedly will decide not to run a horse or try something different should it affect their percentage number. But that’s not the case with Mott. Here’s a man who will do best for his owner and horse by rolling the dice of luck, and what a lucky journey he has been on these past 40 years. Wherever your racing takes you this fall / winter, good luck!

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Editorial Director/Publisher Giles Anderson (1 888 218 4430) 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, Anna Alcock 1 888 218 4430 Photo Credits: Frances J. Karon, Eclipse Sportswire, Shutterstock, Zoe Metz, PA Breeders, Giles Anderson, Woodbine Entertainment, Annie Lambert Photographer “At Large” Frances J. Karon Cover Photograph Eclipse Sportswire Design ATG Media

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, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association

Education Ed cati tii ! Integrity I t it Service

Andrew Champagne. Andrew is an award-winning journalist, handicapper, and digital media producer. Originally born and raised in Kingston, N.Y., Andrew now resides in Concord, Ca., with his cat, Elliot. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne. Bill Heller. Eclipse Award winning author of 26 books including biographies of Hall of Fame jockeys Ron Turcotte, Randy Romero and Jose Santos. Bill and his wife Marianne live near Gulfstream Park in Florida. Bill’s son Benjamin is an accomplished marathon runner in Troy, N.Y. Alan Balch. 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. Annie Lambert is a photojournalist based in Temecula, California. She grew up enjoying many facets of the equine industry with her veterinarian father, Dr Willard D Ommert, and mother, Pat North Ommert, who is an inductee of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Annie has been involved in many aspects of the Thoroughbred racing industry, rode hunters and jumpers as well as reined cow horses. Dr Emma Hardy has been European Marketing Manager for Freedom Health LLC since joining the company in 2009. She is a member of the British Society of Animal Science and is 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. Following her return, she undertook a Doctor of Philosophy researching equine myopthies, with particular focus on aberrant protein expression in skeletal muscle and erythrocytes.

Professor Celia Marr is an RCVS recognised Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine based at Rossdales Equine Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, Newmarket. She is also Editor-in-chief of Equine Veterinary Journal and Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow and has previously worked at Cambridge University, the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Pennsylvania, and in racehorse practice in Lambourn. Lissa Oliver lives in Co. Kildare, Ireland and is a regular contributor to The Irish Field and the Australian magazine, Racetrack. Lissa is also the author of several collections of short stories and four novels. Peter J. Sacopulos is a partner in the law firm of Sacopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos in Terre Haute, Indiana where he represents clients in a wide range of equine matters. He is a member of the American College of Equine Counsel and serves on the Board of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Advisory Committee. Mr. Sacopulos has written extensively on equine law issues and is a frequent speaker at equine conferences. 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. Linda Dougherty is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She earned an Eclipse honorable mention while with Daily Racing Form, and was a staff writer and handicapper for The Trentonian. Most recently she captured an Equine Media Award from American Horse Publications for work that appeared in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, and she also writes for other industry publications. A New Jersey native, she is the author of a book about that state’s “golden age” of racing.

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.



26 56 46





56 Javier Jose Sierra

10 Bill Mott

Ed Golden pays a visit to the trainer of the ever

– Invisible no more

It’s 40 years since Bill Mott first took out his license to train and he’s still at the top of his game, by Andrew Champagne.

18 Ride & Guide

popular front-running gray, Muchos Besos.

62 Spreading the joy of ownership Linda Dougherty discovers a number of

Which bits work best? And what to use when, by Annie Lambert.

initiatives across North America designed to

26 Jim Lawson – Mr Woodbine

68 Understanding concussion

The man behind ambitious plans to enhance racing at the Ontario oval, in conversation with Giles Anderson.

38 Unraveling ulceration

introduce new owners into racing.

46 Understanding GDPR


Trainer of the Quarter – Uriah St. Lewis

86 Product Focus

– new products for trainers

88 #soundbites

– this quarter we canvas opinions on disqualifications

and protection

Lissa Oliver examines the latest research on concussion and how this is influencing

74 PA Day At The Races 2018

Jennifer Poorman reports on the 2018 running of the Pennsylvania day at the races, which

How the new internet privacy rules affect North American racing, by Peter Sacopulos.

boasted a total prize money fund of $1m for the first time in the events history.

52 Osteochondrosis: genetic causes 80 The important role played by the CBA

and early diagnosis

Cynthia McFarland explains the work

Celia Marr looks at how osteochondrosis can be identified and managed early.


06 The Alan Balch CTT Column

helmet design.

Squamous and glandular gastric ulceration explained from a nutritional perspective, by Emma Hardy.

@ train e r_ mag


undertaken by the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association.

/ t rai ner magaz i n e


/ t r ai n e rmag azine

Visit to download our current digital editions and access back issues of both European and North American Trainer

A Rich History

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AT LAST... ay, way back in 1986, I was invited to speak at The Jockey Club Round Table in August at Saratoga. I thought it went fine. After all, I reasoned at the time, I was leaving Santa Anita and racing altogether, and could “tell it like it is.” The reaction in the room to my remarks was startling and apparently supportive of what I had to say, some of it bluntly critical of racing’s leadership and approach to marketing, which was my principal interest then. The Jockey Club felt otherwise. For one thing, Mr. Phipps never spoke to me again (not that we were in the same social and professional circles!), and the racing media at the time interpreted what I had to say as radical. The late Tim Capps reported in The Thoroughbred Record that I had “scolded racing for not being willing to face competition head-on, for not reacting aggressively to new competitive forces, whether they be lotteries or other forms of gambling or simply other leisure activities.” He quoted me as saying, “As the old boys on the block, we ought to know how to do this, yet we seem to act like we know less about competing effectively.” In his opinion piece in the same issue, Capps described my audience as “a wildly cheering throng,” which was nice from my point of view but obviously exaggerated, as anyone who has ever attended a Round Table must realize. But he wasn’t exaggerating when he said I had “excoriated racing leaders for being unable or unwilling to compete in a market that is far more competitive than was the case 30 or 40 years ago.” And this was in 1986! So, here we are now, another 32 years later, with competition of all forms that would have been unimaginable then, and this year’s Round Table has just concluded. As it turned out, I didn’t leave racing back then as I had anticipated I would, instead continuing to preach what I believe about marketing racing to the few who will listen. Therefore, I am somewhat stunned and surprised to agree with virtually everything reported this year at the Round Table as to “industry initiatives.”




It’s about time. And we can only hope it’s not too late. To begin with, how refreshing it is (for a change) to see no mention this year of The Jockey Club’s self-destructive hatred of Lasix. Not that they’ve changed their minds, we know; but the salvation of racing and the Thoroughbred breed simply have so little connection to that battle of theirs. Public arguing about therapeutic medications or “performance enhancing drugs” is just unfathomably stupid. But their new McKinsey initiatives have everything to do with competing in the public marketplace for our share of gaming! Their thrusts this year concern dramatically ramping up racing’s ability to compete for fans in the modern era. Deep commitment on topics like “digital fan development and engagement,” and “advanced analytics” is music to my old ears, as is emphasizing the importance of the track experience in developing new fans. Serious consideration today of fixedodds betting and flexible takeout is about 30 years late, but so what? At least now we’re talking! Credit The Jockey Club for this, as well as their interest in what we can learn from the British. Labor Day weekend I was at Sandown Park outside London. What a treat! A day there, or at Del Mar, or Saratoga, or Keeneland, drives home the importance of the on-track experience. But we must realize in the United States, once and for all, that off-track betting isn’t going anywhere (except toward new and more powerful competitors), and we must finally

and thoroughly capitalize on what it can bring to us, not what it takes from us. To be sure, enormous mistakes were made and even more enormous opportunities missed in how it was implemented here and elsewhere. Crying about it won’t change anything. Instead, we must learn how to capitalize on and invest in marketing a distribution system that has penetrated the population almost entirely. Just think of that. According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans already own a smartphone. While I dislike how much harder that seems to make marketing the on-track experience in the short term, I love how much opportunity it could provide for funding synergistic marketing of both! Locally, regionally, and nationally, however, racing is still not competing. Those of us in the game tend to assume everyone knows you can bet the races on your phone or via the Internet. Sadly, so little effective marketing has been done for racing over the last decade or two that the sport isn’t even on the regular menu of interest for all but the tiniest fraction of the population. The only way to change that is with a massive commitment to remarketing it, preferably coordinated among the major stakeholders, or at least complementary among them as competitors for the gaming dollar. I once called it “positive competition” as we witnessed the old marketing wars among California rivals Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, as well as Bay Meadows and Golden Gate. Why? Because when rivals try to out-do each other, not only does the market respond, but the market’s awareness of what’s on offer rises dramatically. Just think what could happen if racing’s major American entities – the Stronach Group, Churchill Downs, New York Racing Association, The Jockey Club, and the Breeders’ Cup – made concerted, competitive national advertising and marketing investments to sell betting on the races to the enormous population of smartphone and Internet users who don’t even know it exists. Authentic wild cheering and an avalanche of new business.

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The TRM Trainer of the Quarter has been won by Uriah St. Lewis. St. Lewis 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

hat could possibly be better for a trainer than winning his first Grade 1 stakes? Owning that horse and getting a free trip into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Three days after Uriah St. Lewis’ fiveyear-old Discreet Lover captured the $750,000 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup by a neck at odds of 45-1, St. Lewis, who said he bet $200 across the board on him, was still smiling. Who wouldn’t? “I really thought I could win the race,” St. Lewis said. “He always gives me everything he’s got.” Now Discreet Lover, whom St. Lewis bought for $10,000 as a two-year-old in training at Timonium in Maryland, will take him to the biggest race of the year for older horses at Churchill Downs. This is heady stuff for St. Lewis, a 60-year-old native of Trinidad who used to literally run to Aqueduct to bet on a couple of races after he was done for the day at Clinton High School in Brooklyn, where he ran on the track team. “You can actually see the racetrack from the roof of the high school,” he said. St. Lewis was 15 when his family moved to Brooklyn in 1973. Ten years earlier, his older sister had taken him to the track for the first time. “I remember like it was yesterday,” St. Lewis said. “In Trinidad, they have Boxing Day





a day after Christmas. I was five. She took me to the races, and I saw this gray horse. I fell in love with the gray horse. I was hooked.” Eventually, he would work for AmTote as a computer technician and wager on Thoroughbreds regularly. He wasn’t doing well. “I didn’t have a clue. My wife says, `You’re just throwing your money away. Why don’t you learn about the business?’” So he did. He went to Oklahoma with his family, purchased an 88-acre ranch and began to learn about training. He was instructed to buy his own horses to train, and that’s what he did. “I bought two horses for $5,000,” St. Lewis said. He became a trainer in 1988. His family’s real estate business in Brooklyn and his wife’s job as a registered nurse


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That chance had him standing in the winner’s circle after the Jockey Club Gold Cup and heading for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. That’s a long way from Trinidad.


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Asked why he had bought Discreet Lover, St. Lewis said, “He was the first baby from his dam. I like buying first foals. You don’t know what you’re going to get. What the hell? Take a chance.”


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financed their equine business, which they operate as a family, including their 23-year-old twin son and daughter. “We’re all hands on,” St. Lewis said. “We do everything ourselves, because I know it’s done right if I do it myself. We work a lot in the afternoons and evenings. We’ve been having success with it. We aren’t going to change.” But he did take a near-sabbatical, winning just 14 races from 2006 to 2013 as he shepherded his twins through high school. “I stopped for a while to make sure my kids finished high school and got to college,” St Lewis said. “The day they went to college, I started back in. I really started to get serious about racing.” Now they have 28 horses based at Parx led by a certified superstar. Discreet Lover had made more than $940,000 before the Jockey Club Gold Cup, when he cashed in on a hot pace. “When I saw :22, :45 and 1:09, I said, `Unless they’re super horses, they’re going to stop,’” St. Lewis said. “He picked them up real quick. He ran his heart out.”

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B I LL MOTT Andrew Champagne Eclipse Sportswire


ome trainers start their careers with dreams of winning a garland of roses, or a gigantic trophy. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s first big prizes, though, were substantially smaller. “When I was 15, I got my first horse to train, which my father purchased for $320,” Mott recalled. “I put the horse in training. We ran her at a small fair meet in South Dakota, and she dead-heated for the win the first time I ever ran her.” “The purse was $500, and we had to split 60% down the middle. I also won a blanket and a cooler. Because it was a dead heat, we flipped a coin.” Mott still has the blanket and cooler from that race, and over the past 50 years, he’s added plenty of other pieces of hardware to his ever-growing trophy case. His career is one built on simple values instilled in him by some of the top horsemen in the Midwest during the 1970s, a group that included Keith Asmussen, Bob Irwin, and Hall of Fame conditioner Jack Van Berg. “The major lesson I learned is, just show up and work,” Mott said. “The Asmussens were a hard-working family, and of course you can see what they’ve produced. Van Berg was the same. You worked hard, and you were a part of everything that went on. If you were interested, you were going to learn something.” After several years of honing his craft as an assistant, Mott went out on his own in 1978. When asked about obstacles he had to overcome as a new head trainer, he was quick to thank Van Berg and an assortment of owners that helped him get off on the right foot.

“Jack had given me a big opportunity, and I had owners that came to me,” Mott explained. “I didn’t go out and hustle any horses or try to recruit anyone. Everything just fell into place. I showed up for work and things kept happening. My phone was ringing, and people were wanting to send me horses.” Less than 10 years later, a son of Nureyev found his way into Mott’s barn thanks to owner Allen Paulson, and he would help shine a light on his conditioner’s world-class talents. His name was Theatrical, and while he had won several stakes races in Europe, it wasn’t until he came to the United States that he achieved his greatest success. Theatrical won seven of nine races in 1987, including that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at Hollywood Park. In total, his campaign included six Grade 1 victories, and he was crowned as that year’s Champion Grass Horse. “Theatrical was my first champion, my first Breeders’ Cup winner,” Mott said. “He let everyone know that I could train a good horse, that I could train a Grade 1 winner, that I could train a champion. Theatrical being owned by Allen Paulson is the reason I got Cigar.” Six and a half years after Theatrical walked off the racetrack for the final time, Cigar was transferred to Mott’s care. He had started his career in California for trainer Alex Hassinger, but was sent east at the recommendation of Dr. Steve Allday following double knee surgery. “I remember getting on him when we took him to Belmont,” Mott recalled. “One morning, we went to the training track. I galloped him, and I remember going back to the barn and just raving about this horse. The adrenaline had kicked in, and I was spouting off. I said, ‘this horse is like a machine.’




ABOVE: Yoshida 1 about to take the 2018 Woodward Stakes (Gr1) LEFT: Drosselmeyer and Mike Smith winning the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic BELOW: Royal Delta, Mike Smith, winning the Delaware Handicap BELOW RIGHT: Shared Account tossed her rider during morning workouts and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott moved into action to keep the mare from running off. Thanks to his quick and decisive action, she was able to go on to win the Filly & Mare Turf for trainer Graham Motion

“I’d been on a lot of good horses, and I know what most good horses feel like. There’s a difference. You can sometimes feel that special horse underneath you. He was one of those.” Cigar didn’t show that brilliance right away, but once he went to the dirt after several unsuccessful races on turf, his talent rose to the surface. He won 16 consecutive races from late-1994 to the summer of 1996, including the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and was enshrined in racing’s Hall of Fame in 2002. Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey had the mount on Cigar for most of that win streak. Bailey and Mott had known each other long before either arrived in New York, and when they joined forces on one of America’s top circuits, a legendary trainer/jockey combination was born.



“I remember one day we were by the starting gate at Saratoga,” Mott said. “We were by the seven-eighths pole. I was walking back to the barn, and he stopped me and said, ‘I want to ride some horses for you.’” A request to ride “some horses” turned into a partnership that guided several of the era’s top horses to wins in the sport’s biggest races. In addition to Cigar, the Mott/Bailey duo teamed up on top-notch Thoroughbreds such as Fraise, Escena, Yagli, and Royal Anthem, among others. In total, Mott and Bailey won 96 graded stakes races together before the Hall of Fame jockey retired in 2006. In 2018, one of Mott’s biggest partnerships is with a fellow horseman. His son Riley has become one of his top assistants, and it’s evident that the elder Mott is incredibly proud of him. “He’s very punctual, which is more punctual than I ever was,” Bill said with a laugh. “He’s there every day, he works hard, and he gets along with the staff very well. The biggest thing is he’s very sincere. That probably is the most important thing.” The Mott family is currently readying a rising star for a run in one of the sport’s biggest races. The well-traveled


RILEY MOTT – THE HEIR APPARENT Much like his Hall of Fame father, Riley Mott also started working with horses at a very young age. His first duties included filling up water buckets at the Bill Mott barn when he was just six years old, and he developed a love for the sport very quickly. “Any chance I got, I was in the barn helping out in any way I could,” he said. “I gained a passion for it very early. From that point on, I really never thought of doing anything else.” This attraction to horse racing was not lost on Riley’s father, who noticed his son’s interest in following a similar career path. “I don’t think I ever came out and said, ‘this is what I want to do,’ out of the blue,” Riley recalled. “I think he saw, through my body of work at the barn starting from the ground up and wanting to be there every single day. I think he saw the natural progression of me coming to the realization that this is what I wanted to do.” “He worked through high school, every summer, and even through college, he worked in the summertime,” Bill added. “When he graduated from college, he came back into the outfit.” Riley’s father groomed him for his current role by allowing him opportunities to fill various jobs around the barn as he grew up. Bill supervised Riley through stints as a hotwalker and as the stable foreman before his graduation from the University of Kentucky in 2014, and he currently serves as an assistant trainer at the barn. “I think he’s a good boss, and he’s very good with the horses,” the elder Mott said of his son. “I think he’s certainly learned what to do in different situations with different types of horses. We deal with injuries and problems all the time, and I think he’s learned all that very well.” “Every horse is an individual,” Riley added. “You can’t just train one way. You have your program, but on a smaller scale,

I think you have to hone in and focus on the individual, and really tailor your program to that individual. Just paying attention to what horses are telling you and covering your bases on everything you can possibly think of really goes a long way. If you can do one tiny thing to make a horse train a little better, ultimately they’ll repay you for it in the long run.” While some outside observers may think the younger Mott was handed the position without any hard work, quite the opposite is true. In fact, of everything he’s done to this point in his career, the way he’s moved up the ranks is what he’s most proud of. “I take a lot of pride in having started from the bottom,” Riley said. “I guess a lot of people may say I have a silver spoon, so to speak, but I really take pride in my work ethic and dedication to the business and our stable.” “He’s there every day, he works hard, and he gets along with the staff very well,” Bill said. “He fits in very well, and I think he’s become a good manager.” Riley’s methods around the barn have proven key to his development. He stresses active, hands-on leadership, a style he believes is necessary to inspire the workers he supervises on a daily basis. “You don’t want to just tell people what to do or how to do things,” Riley said. “You have to step in and lead by example. You have to show them you’re willing to do the dirty work, roll up your sleeves, and do everything you’re asking them to do. You have to gain the respect of your peers and show them you’re not afraid to work.” While he’s happy working for his father and contributing to the barn’s success, Riley admits that his ultimate long-term goal is to succeed as a head trainer. “People ask me about going out on my own one day, and that’s 100% what I want to do,” he said. “At some point, you have to stop talking about it and just do it. That’s what I’m excited about.”





BELOW: Riley and Bill Mott – paddock schooling with Elate

Yoshida won the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic in May at Churchill Downs before shipping across the Atlantic for the Group 1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot. He ran a strong fifth that day against some of Europe’s top milers, but two starts later, Yoshida would try a new surface. “Any horse I have for WinStar, they like to try them on dirt,” Mott explained. “We knew how talented he was on the turf, but it’s always been in the cards to try him on dirt. It was a matter of waiting for the opportune time. “When the Woodward came up, we didn’t really have anything scheduled for him. There was no particular turf race we had in mind coming up in the next month, and we just felt it was the right time to see him out there in the afternoon.” Yoshida’s connections were right. He topped a field of 13 others in the Grade 1



Woodward beneath jockey Joel Rosario, and the plan now calls for an attempt at the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. A win there would be Mott’s third in the $6 million race. In addition to Cigar’s 1995 win, he saddled Drosselmeyer to a victory in the 2011 renewal (which was contested at Churchill Downs, the host site of the 2018 event). Yoshida is the latest example of a thoroughbred coming to hand for Mott at an older age after being given time to develop. The conditioner cites an oldschool approach to racing as a reason for

this sort of progression, one that is being phased out in some parts of the game. “I think that all the statistics that we have really affect the field size and the amount of times horses run,” he said. “Every trainer would love to be a 25% trainer, but that’s not always going to happen. If you’re waiting to find that perfect situation every time that’s going to allow you to be 25%, you’re going to be sitting in the barn a lot. “I don’t think you have to win every time to give a horse a successful career. I think sometimes with a 2-year-old, you


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Caution Federal (USA) law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Storage Conditions Store at 68°F – 77°F (20-25°C). Excursions between 59°F – 86°F (15-30°C) are permitted. Indications For treatment and prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers in horses and foals 4 weeks of age and older. Dosage Regimen For treatment of gastric ulcers, GastroGard Paste should be administered orally once-a-day for 4 weeks at the recommended dosage of 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (4 mg/kg). For the prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers, continue treatment for at least an additional 4 weeks by administering GastroGard Paste at the recommended daily maintenance dose of 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg). Directions For Use • GastroGard Paste for horses is recommended for use in horses and foals 4 weeks of age and older. The contents of one syringe will dose a 1250 lb (568 kg) horse at the rate of 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (4 mg/kg). For treatment of gastric ulcers, each weight marking on the syringe plunger will deliver sufficient omeprazole to treat 250 lb (114 kg) body weight. For prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers, each weight marking will deliver sufficient omeprazole to dose 500 lb (227 kg) body weight. • To deliver GastroGard Paste at the treatment dose rate of 1.8 mg omeprazole/ lb body weight (4 mg/kg), set the syringe plunger to the appropriate weight marking according to the horse’s weight in pounds. • To deliver GastroGard Paste at the dose rate of 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg) to prevent recurrence of ulcers, set the syringe plunger to the weight marking corresponding to half of the horse’s weight in pounds. • To set the syringe plunger, unlock the knurled ring by rotating it 1/4 turn. Slide the knurled ring along the plunger shaft so that the side nearest the barrel is at the appropriate notch. Rotate the plunger ring 1/4 turn to lock it in place and ensure it is locked. Make sure the horse’s mouth contains no feed. Remove the cover from the tip of the syringe, and insert the syringe into the horse’s mouth at the interdental space. Depress the plunger until stopped by the knurled ring. The dose should be deposited on the back of the tongue or deep into the cheek pouch. Care should be taken to ensure that the horse consumes the complete dose. Treated animals should be observed briefly after administration to ensure that part of the dose is not lost or rejected. If any of the dose is lost, redosing is recommended. • If, after dosing, the syringe is not completely empty, it may be reused on following days until emptied. Replace the cap after each use. Warning Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, contact a physician. Physicians may contact a poison control center for advice concerning accidental ingestion. Adverse Reactions In efficacy trials, when the drug was administered at 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb (4 mg/kg) body weight daily for 28 days and 0.9 mg omeprazole/lb (2 mg/kg) body weight daily for 30 additional days, no adverse reactions were observed. Precautions The safety of GastroGard Paste has not been determined in pregnant or lactating mares. Efficacy • Dose Confirmation: GastroGard ® (omeprazole) Paste, administered to provide omeprazole at 1.8 mg/lb (4 mg/kg) daily for 28 days, effectively healed or reduced the severity of gastric ulcers in 92% of omeprazole-treated horses. In comparison, 32% of controls exhibited healed or less severe ulcers. Horses enrolled in this study were healthy animals confirmed to have gastric ulcers by gastroscopy. Subsequent daily administration of GastroGard Paste to provide omeprazole at 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg) for 30 days prevented recurrence of gastric ulcers in 84% of treated horses, whereas ulcers recurred or became more severe in horses removed from omeprazole treatment. • Clinical Field Trials: GastroGard Paste administered at 1.8 mg/lb (4 mg/kg) daily for 28 days healed or reduced the severity of gastric ulcers in 99% of omeprazole-treated horses. In comparison, 32.4% of control horses had healed ulcers or ulcers which were reduced in severity. These trials included horses of various breeds and under different management conditions, and included horses in race or show training, pleasure horses, and foals as young as one month. Horses enrolled in the efficacy trials were healthy animals confirmed to have gastric ulcers by gastroscopy. In these field trials, horses readily accepted GastroGard Paste. There were no drug related adverse reactions. In the clinical trials, GastroGard Paste was used concomitantly with other therapies, which included: anthelmintics, antibiotics, non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, diuretics, tranquilizers and vaccines. • Diagnostic and Management Considerations: The following clinical signs may be associated with gastric ulceration in adult horses:inappetence or decreased appetite, recurrent colic, intermittent loose stools or chronic diarrhea, poor hair coat, poor body condition, or poor performance. Clinical signs in foals may include: bruxism (grinding of teeth), excessive salivation, colic, cranial abdominal tenderness, anorexia, diarrhea, sternal recumbency or weakness. A more accurate diagnosis of gastric ulceration in horses and foals may be made if ulcers are visualized directly by endoscopic examination of the gastric mucosa Gastric ulcers may recur in horses if therapy to prevent recurrence is not administered after the initial treatment is completed. Use GastroGard Paste at 0.9 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (2 mg/kg) for control of gastric ulcers following treatment. The safety of administration of GastroGard Paste for longer than 91 days has not been determined. Maximal acid suppression occurs after three to five days of treatment with omeprazole. Safety • GastroGard Paste was well tolerated in the following controlled efficacy and safety studies. • In field trials involving 139 horses, including foals as young as one month of age, no adverse reactions attributable to omeprazole treatment were noted. • In a placebo controlled adult horse safety study, horses received 20 mg/kg/ day omeprazole (5x the recommended dose) for 90 days. No treatment related adverse effects were observed. • In a placebo controlled tolerance study, adult horses were treated with GastroGard Paste at a dosage of 40 mg/kg/day (10x the recommended dose) for 21 days. No treatment related adverse effects were observed. • A placebo controlled foal safety study evaluated the safety of omeprazole at doses of 4, 12 or 20 mg/kg (1, 3 or 5x) once daily for 91 days. Foals ranged in age from 66 to 110 days at study initiation. Gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) levels were significantly elevated in horses treated at exaggerated doses of 20 mg/kg (5x the recommended dose). Mean stomach to body weight ratio was higher for foals in the 3x and 5x groups than for controls; however, no abnormalities of the stomach were evident on histological examination. Reproductive Safety In a male reproductive safety study, 10 stallions received GastroGard Paste at 12 mg/kg/day (3x the recommended dose) for 70 days. No treatment related adverse effects on semen quality or breeding behavior were observed. A safety study in breeding mares has not been conducted. For More Information Please call 1-888-637-4251 Marketed by: Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA 30096-4640, U.S.A. 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don’t necessarily have to win that first race to have a good horse. The really good horses are going to win whether you’ve got them totally cranked up or not, but sometimes I feel like it’s good just to get them going and see what you’ve got. Then you find the level and place and what they want to do.” Mott added that there are situations where some talented trainers are not given much of a chance. “We’ve got some owners that, if a guy’s not winning at 20%, they’ll say, ‘I want him to go find his happiness somewhere else,’” he said. “I have a little bit of the old school left in me. I probably run a little more often, but I’d like to do it without the pressure of feeling like I’ve got to win every time. “People get upset if they get beat. They may want to switch jockeys or switch trainers. When I had the Paulson horses, he was never fearful of getting beat. Mr. Paulson was never afraid. He was happy when they ran, and if they got beat, well, let’s try again next time. He was never afraid of Cigar being beaten. He loved to see him run. If he would’ve been beaten, he didn’t think any less of him. There was no feeling that you were going to get fired if you got beat.” 40 years after striking out on his own, and 50 years after winning a blanket and cooler at a fair track, Mott is still carrying on with an enterprise that ranks highly in the national standings. As of this writing, his runners had earned more than $5.5 million in 2018, and in addition to Yoshida, his barn includes multiple

ABOVE: Elate winning the Alabama Stakes (Gr1) Saratoga. TOP: Bill Mott chats to D Wayne Lukas

Grade 1 winner Elate, as well as promising 2-year-olds Mucho (second in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga) and Unionizer (the winner of the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park). Despite all of his successes, Mott is quick to defer credit to the horses he trains, as well as those who work in his barn. “No matter what anybody says, and no matter how brilliant somebody would like to appear, it’s really all about the horses,” he said. “The horses are what make our careers. They make us look good, or they make us look less than good. If you’ve got the right stock, they can really make it for you. “I’m proud of the job that we do, and I’m very proud of the people that I’ve put together.”

WI N N I NG d o es n’ t h a p p e n


A C C I D E N T.

A nose. That’s all you need to see your number on top. To pay off on all those early morning workouts. The late nights planning strategy. You don’t do this to place or show. So ask yourself, does your horse have the stomach to win?

Time for a gut check.

Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. ®GASTROGARD is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2018 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQU-0445-EGUS0218

by Merial

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: CAUTION: Safety of GASTROGARD in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.


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Annie Lambert Annie Lambert

RIDE & GUIDE It is a daily challenge for horsemen to put together bit and equipment combinations that draw out the maximum prowess of their trainees.


its and related training accessories are not all they depend on, however. The talented exercise riders they hire represent the hands using those bits, an important factor in the process. Whatever bits and riggings a trainer prefers, they have a logical reason as to why their choices work within their program. A lot of that reasoning is chalked up to trial and error experiences.

Bit Bias

Some bits are legal for training and racing while others are not allowed in the afternoons. The most recognizable of the morning-only headgear would be the hackamore. Using a hackamore requires



approval from officials. California trainer Danny Hendricks’ father and uncle, Lee and Byron Hendricks respectfully, toured the rodeo circuit with specialty acts, trick riding and Roman jumping over automobiles. They were superior horsemen that began retraining incorrigible racehorses. The brothers introduced many bits that race trackers had not yet explored. Danny was too young to remember those bits, but did inherit the Hendricks’ talent. “I had a filly for Dick (Richard Mandella) way back that wouldn’t take a bit, she’d just over flex,” he explained. “If you just touched her she’d put her nose to her chest and go straight back. I put a halter on her with a chifney, so it just hung there, put reins on the halter and

started galloping her. It took months before she’d finally take that bit.” The majority of trainers shrug off which bits are not allowed in the afternoons as they are not devices they’d think of using anyway. In fact, most trainers never ponder “illegal” bits. Based in Southern California, Hall of Famer Richard Mandella personally feels it’s easy to make too much out of bits. He prefers to keep it simple where possible and to change bits occasionally, “so you put pressure on a different part of the mouth.” “I don’t want to hear a horse has to have a D bit every day or a ring bit every day,” Mandella offered. Adding with a chuckle, “It’s good to change what you’re doing to their mouth, which usually isn’t good with race horses.”

| BITS |

Mandella learned a lot from a Vaquero horseman, Jimmy Flores, a successful stock horse trainer. His father was shoeing horses for Flores, who encouraged Mandella, then eight or nine years old, to hack his show horses around. “Jimmy would put a hackamore on them, to get the bit out of their mouth,” Mandella recalled. “He said to me once, ‘You don’t keep your foot on the brake of your car, you’ll wear the brakes out.’ He was a great horseman.” Trainer Michael Stidham introduced Mandella to the Houghton bit, which originally came from the harness horse industry. “The Houghton has little extensions on the sides and it is like power steering,” Mandella said. “As severe as it looks, it’s not hard to ride. We’ve had a lot of luck with horses getting in or out, it corrects them.” David Hofmans, a multiple graded stakes winning trainer, did not come from a horse background. He fell in love

Danny Hendricks inherited his father’s talent for handlin g horses. His father toured the rodeo circuit performing tricks


with the business when introduced to the backside by Gary Jones and went to work for Jones’ father, Farrell, shortly after. “We’re always trying something different if there is a problem,” Hofmans said of his tack options. “I use the same variety of ring bits and D bits with most of our horses. We use a martingale, noseband and sometimes a shadow roll. If you have a problem you try something different, but if everything is okay, you stick with what works.” Michael McCarthy spent many years working for Todd Pletcher before moving his base to California. When it comes to bits, he hasn’t varied much from his former boss. McCarthy reminded, “When the horses are comfortable, the riders are more relaxed and everybody gets along better.” “Most horses here just wear a plain old, thick D bit,” he said from his barn at California’s Del Mar meet. “Some of the horses get a little bit more aggressive in the morning, so they wear a rubber ring

ABOVE: A solo bridle hangs patiently by a stall while hoards of different bits hang on tack hooks and in tack rooms – the equipment combinations are endless MIDDLE AND RIGHT: One of the most used snaffles is the D bit, while the Houghton (r) is reserved for horses difficult to keep straight




ABOVE: Michael McCarthy watching for a set where “the turf meets the surf” during the Del Mar meeting in California LEFT: Multiple graded stakes winning trainer David Hofmans with recent winner Gypsy Blu

A shadow roll, used to lower horses’ heads, hangs over a rubber ring bit

bit. In the afternoons, if we have one that has a tendency to pull, we may put a ring bit with no prongs.” McCarthy discovered the Houghton bit in Pletcher’s where they used it on Cowboy Cal, winner of the 2009 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. He uses the Houghton sparingly to help horses steer proficiently. Louisiana horseman Eric Guillot said from his Saratoga office that he uses whatever bit a horse needs – a lot of different equipment combinations. “I use a D bit with a figure 8 and, when I need to steer them, a ring bit with figure 8 or sometimes I use a ring bit with no noseband at all,” he offered. “Sometimes I use a cage bit and I might use a brush (bit burr) when a horse gets in and out. Really, every situation requires a different kind of bit.”

Control Central

An early background riding hunters and jumpers has influenced the racehorse tack choices of Carla Gaines. “I like a snaffle, like an egg butt or D bit, or something that would be comfortable




in their mouths,” she offered. “I use a rubber snaffle if the horse has a sensitive mouth. I don’t like the ring bit because it is extra (bulk) in their mouth. “A lot of the jockeys like them because they think they have more control over them. I know from galloping that it doesn’t make them any easier, it probably makes them tougher.” The beloved gelding John Henry will forever be linked with his Hall of Fame trainer, Ron McAnally. The octogenarian has stabled horses at the Del Mar meeting since 1948. From his perch on the balcony of Barn one he surveyed the track and pointed out changes he has seen made over his 70-year tenure there. During those years there have been fewer changes in the equipment he uses than those stable area enhancements. “Basically a lot of the bits are still the same; they’ve been that way for I don’t

know how many years,” he recalled. “Occasionally you’ll find a horse that tries to run out or lugs in and they’ll put in a different kind of bit.” According to McAnally’s long-time assistant trainer, Danny Landers, things stay uncomplicated at the barn. John Sadler’s training habits have also been influenced by his days showing hunters and jumpers. Although he uses the standard bits, decisions are often made by the way horses are framed and balanced. “I want to see horses carry themselves correctly,” he said. “I’ve always had really good riders since I’ve been training. That is very important to me.” Sadler likes one of the more recent bits, the Australian ring snaffle, which helps with steering. The bit has larger cheek rings, which helps prevent pinching. He also employs a sliding leather prong. Neil Drysdale, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, is from England, but has been in the states his entire training career. His tack room is one of those treasure troves of equipment, much of which he has

The Australian ring bit, with larger cheek rings, has growing popularity because it is less apt to pinch the horse and is an aid to steering problems

| BITS |

only used a time or two. He keeps choices simple and prefers to match each horse to the best bit for the individual. “I’m not actually keen on the D bit,” he acknowledged. “I think it is quite strong. Every now and again you have to use something stronger and we’ll use a ring bit or an Australian ring bit, which is quite different and I think it works very well. We have a Houghton which I use rarely; you hope you don’t get those problems and need it.” No one will ever accused Louisianabred trainer Keith Desormeaux of being anything less than frank when asked his opinion. “I’m not a big believer in bits,” he said. “Being a former exercise rider, I have my own, strong opinions about bits. My strong opinion is that they are useless. My personal preference is a ring bit, because they play with it, not because of its severity. People use it to help with control; you pull on the bit and the ring pushes on the palate. “When horses play with the ring bit it diverts their attention from all that’s going on around the track. I don’t take a good hold, it just diverts them from distractions going on around them.” Desormeaux’s horses go out with just a bridle – no rings, no noseband, nothing. “It is not about the equipment,” he said, “it’s about the rider’s hands.”

European Semblance

According to trainers who began careers in Europe before relocating to the United States, the biggest difference is not in the bits they use here, but the bits you need for the much different training style on this

ABOVE: The fat, egg butt snaffle is popular with many trainers as is the standard ring bit

side of the pond. Sharp turns in America sometimes require cautionary bits, while European horses train and often run on wide, straightaway gallops and courses. Graham Motion keeps his bitting options uncomplicated. Horses train in a snaffle with a noseband or figure 8 and those hard to steer or that pull are fitted with the ring bit and figure 8. “We tend to use more equipment (in the US) as the turns are sharper. We also use tongue ties a lot more,” he confirmed. “If you look at pictures of European horses going into the first turn in the Breeder’s Cup, they often have their mouths wide open and are struggling to make the turn.” Leonard Powell heralds from a bloodstock family in Normandy, France. BELOW: Carla Gaines adjusts her favorite type of draw reins, which work with the regular reins to avoid too much draw

He rode flat and jump races in France before moving to the states to work for Richard Mandella. Powell starts with an egg butt or D bit snaffle and moves horses into a ring bit if they are tougher. Most horses run in a ring bit, not necessarily because they are tough, but because it gives the jockeys more control. “Every horse has its own bridle,” Powell pointed out. “That way there is less chance of skin disease spreading from the reins, less chance of getting the wrong bit on them and the grooms don’t have to mess with the bridle adjustments. That makes it easier on everybody.” Powell opined that the Europeans use equipment much the same as the United States, lots of snaffles and ring bits. “They don’t use any of the bits for horses that lug in very bad, like the leather prong,” he pointed out. “They do use what they call the Australian noseband, the WinALot, that rubber thing. I love the idea of it, but every time I’ve used it I’m like, ‘Ah, it doesn’t make any difference.’” Changing up bits for every horse as an individual is high on Simon Callaghan’s





| BITS |

ABOVE: Frenchman Leonard Powell with his 10-year-old gelding Soi Phet. The $16,000 claim has since become a stakes winning millionaire RIGHT: One of many well-used tack combinations is a figure 8 over the rubber-mouthed ring bit


list. The British-born horseman trained his first two years in the UK before moving to the states roughly nine years ago. “I think here and in Europe it’s the same, they use the same basic bits,” he said. “Sometimes we use different equipment like draw reins and figure 8s here. The D and ring bits fit most individuals. “You don’t see horses getting in or getting out in Europe; the gallops are generally all straight and a lot of the racing is on straightaways as well.” Callaghan looks for a physical reason a horse may be getting tougher to work – dental or soundness issues - before exploring more severe bit options.



“I think horses are telling you that something is bugging them,” he said. Jonathan Sheppard’s reputation in steeplechase and flat racing is impeccable. The English-born, 78-year-old conditioner went into the Hall of Fame in 1990. A little fatter jointed snaffle, something softer on a horse’s mouth, is Sheppard’s first choice in bits, usually a D bit. When a horse needs something different the trainer is more apt to add a noseband prior to moving into a stronger type bit. “We do use ring bits when a horse is a little bit heavy-headed or a bit tough to steer or handle,” he said. “Not so much fo or the jumpers, I wouldn’t think, more with the colts on the flat. “We’ve actually, recently been using a Houghton bit for some. I think it is very nice, soft on a horse’s mouth and gives yo ou more control for steering.” Sheppard uses a Myler bit that he called “a nice forgiving type.” The mouthpiece iss similar to that of a Dr Bristol, which has a double joint instead of the single-jointed snaffle, that performs like “a nutcracker on a horse’s jaw.” “The Kineton noseband is very good on n a horse that pulls,” he added. “It takes thee pressure off the mouth and applies it to the nose.” Americans are into a bit more of the bizarre type of equipment than the

Europeans, according to Sheppard. When he trained overseas everything was run in a big ring snaffle and not much else. He figures Europe has become more like North America recently.

Cool Hands

All trainers agree that a rider with good hands outweighs the importance of all the bits in their arsenal. As Hendricks put it, “A lot of times people are using horse bits The D bit is not a favorite of Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, who prefers a ring bit over the single joint snaffle

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to correct something that isn’t the bit’s problem at all.” It has always amazed Mandella how some exercise riders can get along with tough, pulling horses and make it look effortless. He cited David Nuesch with helping Beholder in her early years. “David had a style, a way of sitting and getting a horse not to pull,” Mandella explained. Louis Cenicola was a perfect example of that on John Henry. He had a way of just sitting up there and somehow talking him out of pulling. It is an art; riders either have it or they don’t.” As an excellent show horse rider John Sadler has made sure his exercise riders are also special on a horse. Matching his horses with riders that fit their style has lessened the need for exotic bits and equipment. “We have really great riders with great hands,” Sadler confirmed. “We don’t use a lot of different bits and extra tack because I have such good riders that they can ride the horses with anything. I give them a wide swath with their equipment because they are so good. A lot of these guys have been with me 20 years.” Sheppard likes a German martingale because it is similar to straight draw reins,

TONGUE TIED The tongue tie has been used by horsemen for many decades. The practice retains popularity by helping to keep a horse’s tongue from getting over the bit, causing control issues, as well as preventing the tongue from obstructing the upper airway. Skeptics who feel tying the tongue does not do much for a horse’s breathing issues, may want to make a fresh assessment. Horses with intermittent dorsal displacement of the soft palate (iDDSP) can benefit from a tongue tie according to the research. The tongue is tied near its base with a strip of material that is doubled around the muscular organ and secured by tying under the jaw. By pulling the tongue forward, the upper respiratory structures’ positions are more compatible with upper airway stability. The changes in structural positions allow the horse to breathe more proficiently. Dr Michael Manno is an equine practitioner and surgeon at Southern California racetracks. He explained how the tongue tie works “in theory” and described a newer surgery that attempts to reduce (iDDSP) in much the same way. “If you fix the tongue in a forward position, to where it can’t move back as far, then the larynx should also stay in a more forward position and theoretically make it



| BITS |

Simon Callaghan started his career in England and said most trainers use different bit options in North America because of racing conditions

but give the horse “more freedom rather than cranking his head down between his knees.” “Sometimes you need to have a rider that knows what he’s doing to use draw reins,” Sheppard cited with a chuckle. “A friend of mine once came up with a pretty good expression. He said, ‘Putting draw reins in the hands of the average exercise boy is like putting a chainsaw in the hands of a monkey.’” a little more difficult for the soft palate to displace over the top [of the epiglottis],” Dr Manno opined. “Are we certain that horses with tongue ties don’t displace? No, we know they do. It helps some; it doesn’t help them all. “I think that is also the theory behind this newer surgical technique called a ‘tie forward.’ A surgery that tries to do the same thing by actually moving the larynx a bit more forward in its position so that it would cause the same effect, where you have a little bit more difficulty of the soft palate flipping up over the top.” Trainers have varying opinions on the use of tongue ties. As with most things equine, it depends on the individual animals. From his Ashwell Stables in West Grove, Pennsylvania, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard acknowledged that he did not use tongue ties when he first started training. He later began using them occasionally on horses that he felt really need the accessory. “Then I went thru a stage of saying, ‘Well, I don’t see how it could hurt them and it might help,’” he recalled. “You never quite know what a horse’s breathing apparatus is doing when they get to the eighth pole in a long race and they are getting tired.” Sheppard has since returned to his previous practice, using the tongue tie less often, but always on horses he predicts could be helped.


“I don’t think the bits are as important as the riders handling them, that’s the bottom line,” Mandella concluded. A really good rider can ride them with anything. They do it with finesse and tact rather than muscle.” “It kind of tends to make horses fuss a little bit,” he said of tying the tongue. “Sometimes the grooms put them on a little bit too tight and you see the tongue turn purple before you even put the rider up in the paddock. They are helpful, certainly, with horses that displace and whatnot. The tongue tie and a figure 8 is the remedy we use for horses that are displacing.”

Tongue ties get mixed reviews from trainers, but veterinary research has shown they may help more than previously thought.

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J IM L AW S O N M R W OO D B I N E Giles Anderson

Giles Anderson, Woodbine Entertainment


im Lawson has literally grown up with Woodbine Racetrack, he was born in the same year that the track opened in 1956. Today Lawson assumes the roles of CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group, Chairman of Ontario Racing, as well as chairing the board of governors of the Canadian Football League. He recently sat down with Giles Anderson to discuss the future direction and goals for racing and the Woodbine facility in the years to come. It would be fair to say that you came to racing through a sporting injury and looking back your career may have well evolved on ice. Yes, I played US College Hockey at Brown University in Rhode Island. By 1978 I was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. I left school early, I had enough credits to graduate but had an injury-prone two and a half years in their organisation, with many issues. Ultimately, I retired and went to law school, and when I went to law school, like a lot of people, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could do sports law, or be a player agent, or whatever?’ And of course you soon realise that you need that foundation of law and legal contracts, so I ended up doing commercial law for the most part. So here I am, 30 years later, being in a position where I am with the Canadian Football League. Even though I was a hockey player, I always had a passion regarding football and horse racing. My dad had Thoroughbred horses from the time I was six or seven years old, so I used to come out here 1965, 1966, when I was 10 years old. He ran a modest stable, but a successful stable. He was a great student of the game and I think he won 67 stakes races here with a very modest stable over the years and he’s in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. So I spent my early years around Woodbine and also studying bloodlines.

So how did you end up working for Woodbine? Mostly because of the clients through my work at a major downtown Toronto law firm and as I’d spent a lot time around Woodbine, the board was aware of me. They initially asked me to come on the board to look after the 700 acres of land that they had here. So I joined the board and then I evolved into being chairman of the board in 2012. Then in 2015, when the CEO stepped down, the board asked me to step in and, here I am. I’ve gone from chairman to CEO here now, but I have a big background, as I said, in horse racing and a big part of what we’re doing today is real estate development. How many teams make up the Canadian Football League? There are nine teams. We’re looking to expand it, Halifax to be a tenth team, but there are currently five teams in the west and four teams in the east. Montreal, and Toronto, and Hamilton and Ottawa and as I said, potentially an expansion team in Halifax, so a lot of teams across the country. Why do you think has there not been as much expansion in the last five years as much as there has been of teams in soccer? Well, that’s a good question. In football, the biggest, I think, single achievement is the renewal of capital investment in the stadiums, which has been a big plus. There’s been a completely renovated stadium in Toronto, a brand new stadium in Hamilton, a completely renovated stadium in Ottawa, a new stadium in Saskatchewan, a new stadium in Winnipeg. So the biggest achievement, I think, is the reinvestment of capital to keep the league in good shape in the sense that it’s very much a gatedriven league as opposed to many other sports, which are television revenue driven. We do have the television contract with TSN and we have good ratings on the sports network, which is a Bell Globe Media property. But I think the biggest thing that the league has done is reinvested itself and set itself up for a strong future. ISSUE 50 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



Do you see a big crossover from what you’ve learned about football into racing? The biggest challenge we have is two-fold and they’re related. And that is an ageing demographic in both sports. Our core customer is probably that 50-year-old to 70-year-old male. I think we’re doing a good job in horse racing because of our food and beverage experience and the cost of having a good experience here. We’re making great strides in bringing up that younger customer. But our real core wagering customer fits in that 50 to 70-year-old demographic. The same is true in the Canadian Football League, it may well be true in the golf world and the tennis world, and so that is a real challenge to see and it is actually of interest for me to see how both organizations from the marketing partnerships approach that. And then secondly the challenge in both sports has been the consumption of the sport and what I mean is that the Canadian Football League is a gate-driven league, while in order to get people interested in horseracing, you really need to get them here and see the horses and feel the horses and just the excitement. In both cases now, in a large part on the football side the evolution, it’s not just overnight, it’s the last 15, 20, 25 years depending on your measure of the large screen TVs that sit in everyone’s den or family room. People want to consume sports in luxury, and television has done a great job with production, with slow motion and replays and analysis and making that television experience so great, so that a lot of people would rather than sitting out in colder weather, they’d rather sit in home in the comforts of their den or family room, watching television on a big screen TV. The same thing for horse racing, really. We have, for business purposes, made it very accessible to wager on horse racing through the internet. People don’t have to come out here any more and that’s a challenge.



THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WE HAVE IS TWOFOLD AND THEY’RE RELATED. AND THAT IS AN AGEING DEMOGRAPHIC IN BOTH SPORTS. So we’ve got a couple of sports there where, because of technological advances and just raising the level the game of how we distribute our content in both cases, you’re challenged in terms of getting people interested. People are only going to invest in horses if they are out here and they get the excitement of the game. We need new owners, we need new breeders and you’re not going to get that from people who are gambling over the internet, you’re going to get that from people who come out here and say, “Wow, I love this, wouldn’t it be fun to own a horse.” And the same with football, you need to get them out to the game to experience it and meet the players and see the players. One of the challenges with football, especially in Canada with so many sports coming - soccer has grown huge, or European football, shall we say - I think that one of the things we need to do with football is to get youth playing it and the likelihood of that happening is if they can get out to the games and feel the excitement, and watch it and meet the players.


Woodbine's vision for the future

Every jurisdiction needs more owners and more breeders. What do you feel as a racetrack that you could do to help promote ownership, or promote breeding in the sport? Attracting new owners is going to have to come from the racetracks because we’re the ones to benefit from it. So, we accept that responsibility. If there aren’t horses, if there aren’t owners, then there’s nothing to wager on and the very fundamental core of the business breaks down and we’re seeing some of that, of course, right? I think we all have to understand, it’s going to take a great deal of effort in terms of creating those new owners and breeders to sustain the sport in order for it to do so. In terms of racetracks, I think we need to accept that responsibility and that is, in large part, not an easy puzzle. Many racetracks, including ourselves, have worked and supported syndications and partnerships of ownerships of horse races and racing clubs, as part of our our whole focus of bringing new people and improving the food and beverage experience, for example, and we’re working on making wagering much simpler. We’re doing a lot of things to expose this sport to the new demographic. At the end of the day, I mean, a lot of those things are loss leaders from an economic standpoint in the short term, but hopefully over the long term, exposing a whole new generation of people to racing and hopefully people who will want to own horses and be part of the sport. That’s the way we’re looking at things and we need to, because if we don’t do it, no one else is really doing it, right? So there is a lot of onus and responsibility on the racetracks. Balanced against, these racetracks for the most part are struggling just to operate. So it’s a challenge. How much does your marketing budget centralize on demographics and getting customer feedback?

Oh, substantial. I mean we’re becoming increasingly more sophisticated in terms of analytics and data. It’s primarily, again, through the wagering data. We’re doing everything we can when we offer that food and beverage experience to get people back here and to get them interested, giving them racing tours, like we’re very focused on, and becoming much more sophisticated. Not only in terms of how we treat our wagering product and how we make money and doing the analytics on that, but also the analytics on our customers and where they come from and how we market to that younger group. It’s fairly easy - I said this many times - for racetracks to get people out to Royal Ascot Week, to get them to come to the Arc, to get them to come to the Kentucky Derby, to get them to come to the Queen’s Plate. The real challenge we have is that we run 133 days of Thoroughbred racing here and it’s to get people to come out on the other times of the week and show some interest and how do you get them out here? You might be able to get them to wager over the internet if you do a good job getting them interested and showing them how easy it is to wager on horses. But back to the earlier concern about marketing and interesting that younger demographic, it’s a case of getting them back out here to experience it. So we are very focused, and I would say what is becoming part of our brand promise at Woodbine is the food beverage experience. When we’ve rebranded ourselves, and we come out with our new brand, our brand promise is really to create those experiences for the customer and the large part of that is our food and beverage experience. No admission, no parking charge, come and enjoy sports and have a great food and beverage experience, and that’s how, I think, we can compete in a very competitive sports and entertainment market. There’s major league sports in ISSUE 50 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




Brad Paisley plays Woodbine

ABOVE: Quality food and beverage is a major driving force at Woodbine

Toronto as there are in New York, as there are in Chicago, and other, and Los Angeles, and so we’re in a very competitive environment and we have to find ways to make ourselves attractive relative. It’s not just sports, it’s entertainment, it’s theatre, it’s music, it’s everything. So here we have a 5000-seat music center scheduled to come in and an entertainment district. We’re very much excited about that and being able to crosssell those people. There’s about seven million people that come to the Woodbine property today and we are expecting that there’ll be anywhere from 12 to 15 million people coming to the site in the next three to five years and we’re going to take the opportunity and seize the opportunity to cross-sell and bring people and expose them to horse racing. Is your profit margin greater from the food or from the wagering? From the food, our margins are higher. I can compare somewhat to the United States, but our parimutuel model is a very, very difficult model in Canada, so our margins are thin. Our margins on the restaurant side are, probably, market relative to the cost of food, and services, and hospitality, and hence that’s why people are in the restaurant business. It is a tough business, of course, but there’s no business tougher than running a parimutuel racetrack, and trying to pay purses at the same time. What for you would be the ideal simulcast model if you could rewrite the script? Well, I think it really comes down to the regulatory environment, and the tax environment on parimutuel tax



IT’S A VERY LABOR-INTENSIVE INDUSTRY, AND I DON’T THINK PEOPLE APPRECIATE HOW LABORINTENSIVE IT IS. WE CURRENTLY EMPLOY ABOUT 2.1 PEOPLE PER HORSE ON OUR BACKSTRETCH. dollars. We do not get paid for putting on the content, and it’s just a model that has evolved and the margins are extremely thin, and no racetrack, certainly in this country, can afford to exist clearly on just parimutuel wagering. Hence we’ve had to rely on our relationship, which is now a private commercial relationship with the gaming provider here, and otherwise find ways to generate revenue through our real estate. But, the parimutuel model does not work. In an ideal world, it would be changing the tax model, the tax on the wagering the parimutuel dollar to give more to the racetracks to pay them for the content that they’re putting on. That’s just not happening, and I think not only in Canada but I’ll say in North America and probably internationally, the racetracks have to do a much better job of showing the economic impact that the racing industry has. It’s a very labor-intensive industry, and I don’t think people appreciate how labor-intensive it is. We currently employ about 2.1 people per horse on our backstretch. So, the numbers are huge for live racing, and the economic impact it has, when you think of all the support services, whether it be trucking or fuel or feed providers, hay providers, in addition to the thousands of people that would work on them. We have 2000 horses on our backstretch today, while we have based on my numbers and they work out, we have over 3000 people working there everyday and then all the support services. So I think that we can’t afford to sustain that based on the parimutuel


ABOVE: Oscar Performance wins the Ricoh Woodbine Mile with jockey Jose Ortiz

tax model that we have today. So, whether it’s a simulcast model or other, at the core the problem is we can’t afford to do it and pay enough in purses to sustain this. Fixed odds or parimutuel odds? Well, I think there’s an argument for both. I mean, I like both models. We’re clearly parimutuel, and there’s the fixed odds have had success in other jurisdictions of the world and I hope and think, especially single game sports betting is illegal in Canada today. As that comes on, I hope not only that horse racing can play a role in single game sports betting in the sense that we’re logical hosts to it with our infrastructure, with our tote systems, with our back office. We could run single game sports betting, but also it segues into the competition of fixed odds betting, which also, I think, we need ultimately to offer in order to compete with single game sports betting. So, it’s both. We have to be careful, especially given my comment about a labor-intensive industry that we do not get cannibalised by single game sports betting in Canada. Secondly, consistent with that, we’re allowed to offer new products in order to compete with single game sports betting. You’ve seen slowly in the United States certain jurisdictions take up the cause and involve horse racing. You see the type of products that are being offered in New Jersey now, and I hope and think that’s the future in Canada. That people who are implementing single game sports betting will recognise that given the importance of horse racing to our economy and to our rural economies that they don’t shut us out, and further cannibalise a business which has trouble today because it employs so many people. You run 133 days racing currently, but would you ever consider a model where you ran 80 days, or increase to say 150 days? It’s directly tied to horse supply of course. If we had 3000 horses on that backstretch, I’d be happy to increase the 133 days. So part of the problem is horse supply and having




to run that often, required to run by our licence 133 days, we’re running a lot of days with small fields. That’s not healthy for anyone. What we really need to examine, is what would it would look like if we went to 80 days? It’s a slippery slope in a couple of ways. No question in my mind that that substantially decreases your wagering revenue. Also, the other slippery slope is one of the strengths of Woodbine as a racetrack relative to other racetracks in North America is that 133 days is a lot of days at racing. Trainers can come here and park here, have their employees here, find an apartment year round. That eight months is a real strength of what we’ve got here. So, I would be very reluctant to go down too much, because it would be giving up on one of our biggest strengths, which is pretty much year round Thoroughbred racing. When I say year round, 133 days through eight months really lets some big trainers come and park here and establish an employee base and it’s also nice for the horses. They’re not moving jurisdiction to jurisdiction and no one could argue that moving that moving horses 500 miles is healthy for them. It’s nice for the horses, and it’s nice for the trainers and that’s why I think Woodbine is an attractive destination for trainers, because they can just come and park here for eight months. What about your relationship with Fort Erie and the other Canadian tracks? Do you support those tracks? We do, it’s an interesting challenge right now. First of all, a little-known fact, outside of Woodbine and maybe Ontario racing people, is Woodbine currently runs the back office for three quarters of the race tracks in this province. So we run their whole wagering system, we collect the money for their wagering system, we actually pay out all their purses to the owners, we manage everything for the other race tracks. We don’t manage their operations.That model may well increase under the new long-term funding arrangement that’s been entered in with the government that we will increase that back office for them. We have a




9 0 1 S F E D E R A L H I G H WAY I H A L L A N DA L E B E AC H 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


WE’RE PLANNING ON RUNNING SIX TURF RACES EVERY RACE CARD NEXT YEAR, MAKING WOODBINE KIND OF THE TURF DESTINATION. good relationship, because of our wagering netw twork, w and all of the racetracks in Canada work w wiith i us. The biggest challenge we’ve had, and you mention Fort wiith Erie, is simply horse supply. We’re actually competing wi them for horses right now, and it’s diff fffiicult i for them, and it’s diff fffiicult i for us. If we had another 600 or 800 horses betw tween w the ttw wo w racetracks there wouldn’t be an issue, but right now we are struggling for horse supply. Our horse supply and our ffiield i sizes, and we have worked extremely hard this year, greater focus on it than ever in terms of incentivi viizing own wn ners, recruiting own wn ners, doing all sorts of things. We’re down wn under eight horses, average for ffiield i size. flict l or competition So that has put us in some confl w wiith i Fort Erie, but we do have a good relationship wi with i them, I think what’s put pressure on and strained the relationship is horse supply and that’s somewhat true of the Standardbred tracks too. My only wi wish i is that we had more horses and that this wouldn’t be an issue at all. But, given the demographics of the sport and the economics of running a racetrack these days, harken back to my commentary about parimutuel wagering. The racetracks are struggling and part of the reason they’re struggling is the ffiield i size and horse supply. So, we’re all ffiighting i over it and every race track in North America rig ght now is ffiig ighting g and strug ggling g for ffiield i size.




Where do you see Woodbine internationally now? Some great horses over the years have raced here, both in the international and the mile. I think from an international standpoint, our product is being recognized. I think that we’ve long done a good job wi with i some of the top European trainers have come here for the Mile and the International. Next year will see the addition of a new turf course… Our turf course is becoming more renowned in terms of we’ve had an opportunity to certainly market it more and it’s a mile and a half course. We’re adding next year a seven-furlong inner course w wiith i state-of-the-art drainage, which w wiill i be fun because much like I think they have at Happy Valley, they can get a pretty strong rainstorm and it drains so well and that’s the kind of surface that we’ve set up here at Woodbine for next year. That it’s a sand base wi with i ffiibre i in it. It’ll drain right through it. So we’re planning on running six turf races every race card next year, making Woodbine kind of the turf destination. We’ll have turf days, I think we’ll be converting some of our stakes races to turf stakes races. We’d like to see ourselves as the turf destination in North America and in part start to not only attract European horses for our big events, which I think we do as good a job as anyone. Maybe a better job than anyone other than the Breeders’ Cup. Potentially wi with i a vi view i to havi ving i some European outfi fits, i particularly the English and Irish interest coming in and bringing a small group of horses here for the summer as a lead-in to those fall races. So we think we’re gaining momentum. We can only measure it by wagering but our wagering is increasing substantially in Australia, certainly in the United States we’re ty gaining market share. I think it’s a recognition of the quality of our product. I think we have a good reputation as an honest brand of racing, quality ty racing, safe racing and I think we’re in a good position to move forward and I think that second turf course wi wiill even help more. A An n nd we’re hopeful because I think that’s where the growt wtth is internationallyy.


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breed . race . win


Do you see yourself expanding the schedule of international races? You know, we would like to. It really comes down to looking at the competition and what they’re offering and it’s an interesting challenge. You know we have a couple of Group 2 races on the grass, three or four of them, actually, and what would it take to make them Group 1 races? And as we look around, there are races in New York, there are races in Kentucky, and it’s a competitive environment right now for the best horses. There just aren’t enough good ones right now. How are you developing the Woodbine signal internationally? It’s developing well but I’m always amazed at the amount of red tape, for lack of a better term, that exists in other jurisdictions. I mean, hats off to what they achieved in Japan but it’s very hard to penetrate that in terms of what they allow there in terms of racing. We have a great relationship with the Japan Racing Association and we like them and we’re sharing more things we sponsor to race there. They’re bringing a large delegation over for


I’M ALWAYS AMAZED AT THE AMOUNT OF RED TAPE, FOR LACK OF A BETTER TERM, THAT EXISTS IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS. Mile Weekend. But whether it’s in France or whether it’s in Sweden on the harness side, the middle men in these wagering relationships are difficult to overcome. We would like to find ways to work closely with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, with Japan. France is another one, the PMU group there. We think that’s a way to go and we’re very focused on that and I think the Woodbine product, both on the Thoroughbred and the Standardbred side is gaining acceptance and we’re starting to see that. And I think it’s, as I said, because of the quality of our productions and so we’re confident we’re making strides there for sure. And I hope, and with the quality of people here, I think it will continue. Woodbine being open 24/7 for its casino side of the business and the development plans you have, it has always struck me as a business that never stands still. If I come back to Woodbine in say five years’ time, what am I going to see that’s different from the Woodbine today? Well you will see a very vibrant community. I think you will see an entertainment district which will include a music auditorium, having 135 shows per year. I think you’ll be able to get here by public transportation. Complimentary to the entertainment experience and the expanded gaming and table games that we’ll have, there will be all the quality food and beverages which I hope will continue to build on what we have today.



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astric ulcers remain a common condition facing competition horses. This poses an ongoing and persistent challenge to trainers who face the negative effects of ulcers in terms of training and performance. To address the issue, the typical trainer spends a small fortune on scores of omeprazole and other ulcer remedies, only to find the problem isn’t resolved or simply comes back. Meanwhile, researchers have been testing the very notion of “what is an ulcer?” The data casts doubt on whether go-to treatment approaches will actually work. A look at what the research now tells us about equine gastric ulcers may provide some new guidance for how best to address this nearly ubiquitous concern.

The two faces of gastric ulceration

While many people think of gastric ulcers as one specific disease, equine vets and researchers refer to gastric ulcers as a “syndrome” (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, or EGUS). The medical definition of a syndrome describes a set of symptoms and signs that together represent a disease process. In practical terms, this means that ulcers are really a clinical signs—truly a symptom—of underlying disease conditions. A few years ago, articles began to appear in the scientific press highlighting differences in the healing of ulcers in two distinct regions of the stomach—the upper “squamous” area on the one hand, as compared to the lower “glandular” portion on the other. In recent years,



researchers in Australia publlished a series of articles (Sykes et al, 2014) to “clarify fy the distinction between diseases in different regions of the stomach” (i.e., to describe the differences betw ween ulcers in the squamous area of the stomach from tho ose in the lower glandular area). The articles described signiffiicant diff fferences f between the two conditions, including prevalence, risk factors and response to treattment.

Squamous gastric ulcerration

The upper region of the stom mach is minimally protected from the corrosive effects of stomach acids. As such, squamous gastric ulceration (i.e., ulcers in the upper region of the stomach) is believed to o result from the increased exposure to acid and other co ontents of the stomach. Ulcers in the squamous regio on are also more common, affecting upwards of 70% of Thoroughbred racehorses, as demonstrated in multiple stu udies over the past 20 years.

Glandular gastric ulceraation

By contrast, ulcers in the low wer glandular region of the stomach are believed to arisee from a diff fferent f set of conditions. The lower portio on of the stomach is composed of numerous cell types includ ding those that secrete gastric acid. Because horses secrete stomach acid continuously, the mucosal lining in this low wer portion of the stomach is in direct contact with stomacch aciid att alll times. The lower portion of the stomach is also better protected—the glandular mu ucosa is lined wi with i a thick layer of mucus that offers naatural protection from acid. It is believed that glandular ulceration results from


the breakdown of this protective lining. Although no research has conclusively shown exactly how this defence mechanism breaks down in horses, research in humans shows NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) use and bacterial agents are contributors. Based on this, equine squamous gastric ulceration (ESGUS) is a specific condition distinct from equine glaand dulaar gastricc ulcceraatio on (EG GGUS).

Beyond the stomacch

Until recently, litt ttle t att tte tention had been aff fforded f to inffllammation and ulcerration developing beyond the stomach of the horse an nd, in particular, wi wiithin the caecum and large colon. Studiess have now shown wn how the hindgut can also be vvu ulnerable u to changes in the mucosal lining (i.e., ulcers and other ttyyyp p pes of inffllammation) and should be an essential consideration in performance horse management. The equine hindg gut is vast. Thus, detecting ulcers or other colonic issues can be challenging. Visualization of gastric ulceration vviiia 3m

BELOW: Little attention has been afforded to inflammation beyond the stomach, the image shows the caecum

endoscopy has become a mainstream diagnostic procedure in many equine veterinary practices. Limitations in physical reach of the endoscope leaves it ineffective for visualizing anything beyond the proximal duodenum, and colonoscopy is simply not possible for the horse. It could be suggested that the equine hindgut had been perceived as a bit of a “black box,” responsible for the lack of reliable diagnostic tools available for detecting issues there. But just because this part of the gut has been diff fffiicult i to “see” doesn’’t mean that issues don’t exist there. Risk factors for hind dgut dysbiosis and infflammation l largely reside w wiithin i th he management and feeding practices associated wi with i intensive exercise and management. NSAIDss can also be a signifficant i causative agent. Extensive researrch involvi ving i the examination of horse cadavers has ind dicated that around 50% of those horses w wiith i conffirmed i d gastric ulceration w wiill i also have some hindgut infflamm l mation or areas of erosion. Thus, it is crucial to think of th he health of the entire digestive tract and not only the stomaach.






Most racehorse trainers know first-hand the high cost of ulceration in their horses. There are obvious welfare implications derived from the discomfort and pain horses likely experience when suffering from ulcers and inflammation. Ulcer-induced poor performance will often manifest as negative temperament changes, a poor attitude to work and stress-induced coping behaviors. There exists the potential for these performance-related “red flags” to be misinterpreted as bad behavior, particularly when clinical signs are vague. Thus, when responding to challenging behavior, it is always prudent to first consider that the horse may be conveying a “can’t” rather than a “won’t.”

Knowing where a problem exists streamlines recovery

If ulceration is suspected anywhere within the digestive tract, identifying where it is located is important from two aspects. Early and accurate detection is decisive in formulating an effective recovery plan, and identifying the source of the condition limits the possibility of significant long-term effects. Also, it is now appreciated that certain medications demonstrate greater efficacy depending on the diagnosis. Omeprazole has long been the first-line treatment for all types of gastric ulceration but is now considered just one of several options. Indeed, a recent consensus statement regarding EGGUS reports that omeprazole alone may not be the most efficacious treatment since the causative factors for glandular injury are not primarily acid-induced. Instead, medications to support the health



ABOVE LEFT: Cherry Ulcer

of the mucosal lining, such as the prostaglandin E analog, misoprostol may be more effective. Still, omeprazole (particularly the new injectable form) does remain a useful medication for squamous ulceration and, in conjunction with misoprostol for EGGUS, to allow acid injury to heal. Treatment duration is also markedly longer for EGGUS when compared to squamous ulceration. A plethora of medications and approaches exist to support equine hindgut health. The success of a particular treatment will likely be dependent on the underlying cause, location and type of inflammation.

Different ulcers, different treatments

Every race trainer knows that omeprazole represents the “gold standard” treatment for equine ulcers. Omeprazole shuts down production of acid in the stomach, creating an environment where healing can occur. Not surprisingly, omeprazole has been shown to be most effective in treating squamous ulceration (ESGUS), since the corrosive effects of acid have been more clearly implicated as a contributor to ulcers there. Studies have also shown, by contrast, that omeprazole is much less effective as a treatment of glandular gastric ulcers (EGGUS). Along the same lines, omeprazole is entirely ineffective as a treatment approach to colonic ulcers. In both cases, no “silver bullet” exists that can immediately mitigate the issue. Instead, approaches that seek to reduce or remove the causative stressors associated with the conditions may be the best option. Finally, an appropriate strategy for resolution of hindgut disorders may include one or more of the following ingredients:

Protect the most vulnerable at the most vulnerable time

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• Linseed or flaxseed oil imparts an anti-inflammatory effect due to its high ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. • Prebiotics derived from the walls of yeast cells such as mannan oligosaccharide (MOS) or fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a good bacteria food source help to support the proliferation of beneficial microflora. MOS also tricks pathogenic bacteria into binding to it, rather than binding to the wall of the intestine and colonizing. • Yea-Sacc, a live yeast culture (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) may help to populate a healthy microflora population, although proven benefits remain questionable. • Key amino acids, such as glutamine, threonine and arginine are important for the correct function and structure of numerous cells within the gut. They also help optimize blood supply, cellular turnover and tissue repair. • Psyllium is both high-fiber and coats the intestinal lining.

Sucralfate, a mucosal protectant, has been prescribed to treat right dorsal colitis successfully. Its mode of action is to coat areas of damage to enable healing.

Beware long-term use of acid-suppressing medications

The problems associated with excess acid are well established. However it is important to remember the important role acid plays within the normal digestive process. For example, gastric acidity helps maintain the




ABOVE: Continuous forage is just one way of preventing ulceration

THE SUCCESS OF A PARTICULAR TREATMENT WILL LIKELY BE DEPENDENT ON THE UNDERLYING CAUSE, LOCATION AND TYPE OF INFLAMMATION. correct pH in the gut to enable some digestive enzymes to function optimally. While the use of acid-suppressing medications has become commonplace and inarguably effective in the short term, prolonged or repetitive administration may create aberrations further along the digestive tract, including intestinal dysbiosis and damage to the mucosal integrity. Should acid-suppressing therapy be unavoidable, it is critical to include hindgut nutritional support at the same time to avoid the development of downstream issues; and long-term preventative measures should be implicated as soon as possible.

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ABOVE: Gastric ulceration affects 70% of Thoroughbred racehorses

Prevention is always better than cure

Thus, we really have three types of ulcer syndromes, all potentially with different causes, reflecting different disease processes, and responding variably to different short-term treatments. Unfortunately, these problems will fail to dissipate in the long term so long as we merely continue the cycle of addressing issues with a treatmentoriented approach. Placing more emphasis on improving management and feeding practices will promote prevention and avoidance of these complaints altogether. In an ideal world, we would radically change how we manage, feed and care for the animal to get closer to the way the horse’s digestive system naturally functions. This would incorporate the provision of continuous forage, unrestricted turnout, a “little-and-often” feeding regime, reducing the causes of stress and increasing socialization. Grain and processed feeds in the horse’s diet would be kept to a minimum to ensure that simple carbohydrates are correctly digested in the foregut and do not reach the hindgut. While many yards do strive to achieve these goals, the extent to which they can achieve this may be limited. This ideal model of feeding and management is rarely conducive to meeting the physical and nutritional demands of the hard-working horse, and it’s difficult to practically implement on some yards. So, another approach would be to elevate our management of digestive tract health in order to help offset the gastrointestinal risks that challenge our competition horses. Supplementing the diet with targeted nutrients to help normalize digestion, repair and replenish the structure of the tract, and enhance its natural defences against injury and disease is the ideal adjunct to improve feeding and management practices.


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The Great Privacy Policy Alert

As the summer of 2018 began, every company doing business on the internet appeared to have developed a new user privacy policy overnight. Servic ice provid iders, search engines, social media platforms, news sites, online retailers and others bombarded Americans wi with emails wit and pop-ups, urging users to revi view the new policies vie immediately and adjust their personal privacy settings accordingly. There is no off ffic ffi icial count of how many consumers dutifully clicked on links, doggedly read new rules, and deliberately updated their individ idual privacy preferences, or how many simply shrugged, ignored the alerts, and went on wit ith their online lives. Some who wondered what all the fuss was about may have thought the new privacy policies had something to do wi with recent headlines about corporate data breaches. wit Others may have associated them wi with the fallout of 2016’s wit US presidential election and UK Brexit referendum, aft fter fte which reports emerged of foreign meddling online and a



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political consulting firm stealthily collecting data from tens of millions of Facebook users without their permission. (Criminal investigations are ongoing.) But many internet users knew the truth: the renewed focus on privacy was far from sudden and was the result of a European Union law known as the General Data Protection Regulation, that had been passed in 2016 and took effect on May 25, 2018.

The General Data Protection Regulation

Even though it is a European law, the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) has implications for Americans who use the internet to conduct their business. Horse trainers and other equine professionals are no exception. This article will address the basics of GDPR, how it affects American businesses, and the primary steps your business should take to achieve and maintain GDPR compliance. Make no mistake, spending the time and effort to do so now will go a long way toward avoiding legal headaches and financial penalties in the future. Privacy policies exist to protect personal data. Personal data is defined by the European Union as: “…any information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual….” It includes: “…Different pieces of information, which collected together, can lead to the identification of a particular person….” In short, any form or combination of information n that can tell others who you are is perssonal data. In the US, personal data is also referred to as personally identifiable inform mation (PII) or sensitive personal informattion (SPI). Personal data typically includ des information that can allow oth hers to locate, contact or monitor you. Examples of personal data include your first i and last name, home address, email address, telephone number as well as an identification card number, succh as your social security number, driver’ss license number or passport number. In n the digital age, it can also take far more su ubtle forms, including some you may not haave even realized, such as your Internet Protocol (IP) address, your mobile phon ne location data or a “cookie” ID on your computer. Personal data does not includee anonym ymous m d in statistics. information, such as that found

The big question

The General Data Protection Regulation is based on the answer to this increasingly ns an important question: Who own individual’s personal digital daata?



THE GDPR ENSHRINES THIS PRINCIPLE OF PERSONAL DATA OWNERSHIP IN LAW. In the United States, the answer to that question is still being debated and, some privacy advocates would go so far as to say, avoided. But the countries that make up the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) have determined that, when their citizens are concerned, every individual owns his or her personal data, wherever it may appear online and however it may be gathered and used by others. The GDPR enshrines this principle of personal data ownership in law. It grants specific data privacy rights to individuals and sets out rules that businesses must follow when dealing with a consumer’s data. It mandates harsh financial penalties for businesses that violate those rules, along with strict notification standards whenever a business suffers a data breach.

The American question

The first question most Americans will ask about the GDPR is obvi vious. i Why would an American citizen doing business in

the United States need to worry about complying with a European law? Like nearly all businesses in the digital age, the vast majority of the Thoroughbred racing community routinely conducts business on the internet. And therein lies the answer to the American GDPR compliance riddle. The web truly is worldwide and that means your website, and any and all social media platforms you use (such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and any Thoroughbred-biz-specific websites and platforms), are as easily accessed in Europe as they are in America. In the course of conducting business online, you can come into contact with a European citizen as easily as you do an American citizen. The General Data Protection Regulation clearly states that when any business entity, based in any location, deals with a European citizen’s data, GDPR rules apply. But there are some important exceptions. If a European citizen’s data is collected while the individual is not physically in Europe, that data is not governed by the GDPR. If, for example, a German visiting America takes an online marketing survey while in New York and offers up personal information in the process, only American regulations regarding the use of that data would apply. The GDPR also takes intentionality into account. Basic, broad-based, generic marketing materials are exempt from the law. If an Italian citizen who

| GDPR |


Proper legitimate grounds are required to process personal data and can be done by authorised agents only under the GDPR, EU, or Member State Law. Procession activities can be carried out only when there is an appropriate legal basis or legislative measure.


Personal data must be collected only for accurately defined, evident and legitimate purposes specified at the moment of collection. Personal data must be processed in a manner compatible with those purposes.

Storage Limit

The data storage has to be set in a way that personal data is erased when the purposes have been served. The personal data should be kept just as far as necessary to identify the data subjects for the purposes established.


Provide all sufficient information regarding the processing activities and its purpose to the data subject at the moment of collection. The information shall include all necessary details to ensure fairness and transparent processing.


Limit the storage of the personal data to a strict minimum. Process personal data only when it is relevant, appropriate and limited to what is essential for the purposes for which they are collected i.e. not excesive.


The duty to process personal data in a manner that ensures proper security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing and accidental loss, destruction or harm, using appropriate organisational and technical measures.


All data subjects should be made aware of risk rules, safeguards and rights concerning the processing of one’s personal data and how to exercise their rights to such activities. Any information or communication to the date subject shall be concise, easily accessible and easy to understand in clear and plain language.


Responsibility to take every reasonable step to make sure that the personal data are precise and up to date regarding the specific purposes for which they are collected and stored. Inaccurate data shall be erased or corrected immediately.


The obligation to submit to the principle and to be able to demonstrate that processing is carried out according to them.




has in interest in Thoroughbred training happens across the English-language website of an American horse trainer whose services are only offered in the US, the GDPR does not come into play. But if an American trainer’s site appears to target European citizens, gathers information on them, or seeks to do business with them, GDPR rules do apply.

Time and money

From a business perspective, investing the time, cost, and effort it would take to maintain totally separate online entities, presences, and accounts for the United States and Europe due to variations in privacy regulations is likely to be a losing proposition. That’s why major US-based internet players have concluded that complying with the stricter GDPR rules makes business sense. It is also why they started sending all those new privacy policy notices several months back. The Thoroughbred racing industry is a global endeavor as well, and many trainers, owners, jockeys, and other participants either already do business on both continents or want to expand their opportunities by doing so. If you are an American-based trainer with any interest in working on the European circuit, GDPR compliance is a must.

A digital bill of rights

The core data privacy rights that the GDPR grants to individuals and requires businesses to protect are: 1.) Consent and the Right to Object; 2.) Data Deletion and the “Right to be Forgotten;” 3.) Restriction of Processing; and 4.) Data Portability.

Consent and the Right to Object

Individual internet users (referred to as “data subjects” in European terminology) have the right to consent prior to the gathering and use of their personal data by an online entity. This rule applies to online tracking, user profiling, and the receiving of marketing communications. A consumer may refuse or withdraw consent at any time. Think of this as the “ask permission first” rule. According to the GDPR, consent has to be: “… freely given; informed; unambiguous; and demonstrated by clear affirmative action….” In other words, you must ask for and receive their expressed permission before tracking individuals online, sending them digital marketing messages, or creating a profile that incorporates their personal information or online behavior. For example, you decide to begin



YOU MUST ASK FOR AND RECEIVE THEIR EXPRESSED PERMISSION BEFORE TRACKING INDIVIDUALS ONLINE. sending a quarterly marketing email newsletter that promotes your skills and successes as a trainer. Before doing so, you must obtain permission from the individuals on your mailing list. If someone informs you that they do not wish to receive your newsletter, you cannot send it to that person. If an individual agrees to receive the emails but eventually informs you that he or she wishes to stop receiving them, you must cease delivery in a timely fashion.

Data Deletion and the “Right to be Forgotten”

You have probably heard the expression, “the internet is forever.” This refers to the fact that once information appears publicly online, it is extremely difficult to remove permanently, even if a concerted effort is made to do so. Data Deletion and the Right to be Forgotten holds that individuals have the

right to request their personal data be deleted from all internet-related locations, including back-ups, that may have been moved offline. A customer who wants to sever ties with an online retailer, for instance, may demand that his or her shopping history be deleted from the company’s records, along with any publicfacing product reviews the customer has posted over the years. Once instructed to delete data, a business must do so in a timely manner. For example, you use Instagram to post photos of a horse you have trained. Someone who posted a comment on a photo may decide their comment was inappropriate and request that it be removed. Even though they posted the comment to your account, the comment is data that belongs to them, and you will need to comply with their request.

Restriction of Processing

Individuals can also request that a business stop accessing and/or modifying their personal data. This is known as Restriction of Processing. In other words, a business can still store that individual’s personal data, but cannot do anything with it, including editing, updating, selling or sharing the information. Additionally, the company must lock down the data, securing it in all forms, including nondigital formats. The business may only access the data again if and when the consumer grants permission.

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A consumer that has a billing dispute with an online retailer could invoke Restriction of Processing, “freezing” his or her data until the dispute is resolved satisfactorily. Or an owner who is entering a Thoroughbred in a match race could request a trainer stop accessing his personal data until the race is over.

Data Portability

Data Portability is the fourth cornerstone of the GDPR. It requires online businesses to make an individual’s data available to that individual upon his or her request. The business must provide the data in a structured, commonly used, computerreadable format that allows the individual to move their data to other companies as they wish. Consider a couple applying for a mortgage. They may request their personal data from the mortgage company and share it with other lenders in order to speed the process of getting competitive quotes. Likewise, the owner of a Thoroughbred that you have trained may decide to sell the animal and request digital records from you that can be forwarded to potential buyers.

Respect and essential steps

The key to complying with the GDPR is respecting your prospects’ and customers’ privacy. Given how famously private, or perhaps more accurately, secretive, horse trainers are, that should come naturally.

The amount of effort trainers and other equine professionals will need to make regarding GDPR compliance will depend on the reach, scope, and sophistication of their online operations. If you do business in Europe, send digital marketing communications, track customers or prospects online, sell items online, profile users, or directly host advertisers on your website who do, your distance to the finish line will be longer than a trainer who, say, runs a one-person business with the help of a website or a Facebook page and occasionally exchanges business emails.

Compliance, large and small

If you are running a large operation with substantial online components, it is vital that you work with relevant vendors and employees, making the most of their skills and expertise in order to meet your compliance goals. Coordinating the efforts of your IT, sales and marketing team, and legal advisors is essential. Of course, if you are running a business operating with a high degree of digital sophistication, I assume you are already well aware of the GDPR and well on your way to compliance. If, instead, you are running a smaller operation, you need to evaluate whether or not the General Data Privacy Rules apply to your business. If you are collecting personal data from European citizens, you are acting as what the GDPR calls a “Controller.” The vendors you use to support your online efforts are known as

“Processors.” (Think of Facebook hosting your page, or GoDaddy hosting your website, or Emma handling your email marketing efforts.) Processors are also responsible for privacy compliance. All of your processors should be offering both online advice and a suite of tools you can use to ensure compliance. Familiarizing yourself with their offerings and making use of them is an excellent start. If you have retained independent contractors to deal with tasks such as building and managing your website or your online marketing, set up meetings with them and ask for their advice and assistance. If you feel you need more help, plenty of companies are offering their services to help bring businesses into compliance. If you choose to go this route, be sure to do your homework. Choose a reliable company that can provide references and a proven track record. The GDPR is designed to preserve individual rights, protect privacy, prevent abuses by large tech firms, and combat criminal hackers and scammers. It does not excuse smaller businesses from their responsibilities when dealing with personal data. Doing your due diligence and making a good faith effort to comply will keep you from getting crossways with regulators. Better still, it will let your clients and potential clients know that you deserve their trust and are capable of maintaining their privacy. In the world of Thoroughbred racing, that is as good as gold.




Professor Celia M. Marr Shutterstock




steochondrosis (OC) is a common lesion in young horses affecting the growing cartilage of the articular/ epiphyseal complex of predisposed joints at specific predilection sites. In the young Thoroughbred, it commonly affects the stifles, hocks and fetlocks. As this condition has such important impact on soundness across many horse breeds, it is commonly discussed in Equine Veterinary Journal. Four recent articles covered causes of the disease, its genetic aspects, and a new and very practical approach to early diagnosis through ultrasound screening programs on stud farms.



OC is a disease of joint cartilage. Cartilage covers the ends of bones in joints, and healthy cartilage is central to unrestricted joint movement. With OC, abnormal cartilage can be thickened, collapsed, or progress to cartilage flaps or osteochondral fragments separated from the subchondral bone leading to osteochondrosis


started some 65 millions of years ago had evolved at this speed, the average horse would now have stood a staggering 40 miles at the withers. Drs. Naccache, Metzger and Distal, based at the Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics in Hannover, Germany, have worked extensively on heritability and the genetic aspects of OC in horses. Their work has shown that there is not one single gene involved. In fact, genes located on not less than 20 of the 33 chromosomes of the horse are relevant to OC. These researchers use whole genome scanning—otherwise known as genome-wide association studies, or GWAS. This approach has only been possible since the equine genome was mapped. GWAS look at the entire genetic map to detect differences between subjects with and without a particular trait or disease. Millions of genetic variants can be read at the same time to identify genetic variants that are associated with the disease of interest. Based on the number of genetic markers already found in warmblood OC, it is unlikely that a simple single-gene test will prove to be useful for screening young Thoroughbreds for OC.

The average horse would now have stood a staggering 40 miles at the withers

dissecans (OCD). OC and OCD can be regarded as a spectrum rather than two discrete conditions. Certain joints are prone to OC and OCD, and there is some variation between breeds on which joints have the highest prevalence. In Australian Thoroughbreds, 10% of yearlings had stifle OC, 8% had fetlock OC, and 6% had hock OC. The prevalence data may seem very high, but Thoroughbred breeders may take some comfort in learning that similar, and indeed slightly higher prevalences, are reported in the warmblood breeds, Standardbreds, and Scandinavian and French trotters. Heavy horse breeds have the highest prevalences. In an article discussing progress in OC/OCD research, Professor Rene Van Weeren concludes that the clinical relevance of OC is man made. In feral horses, where there is no human influence on mating pairings, OC does occur but at much lower prevalence than in horse breeds selected for sports or racing. Similarly, in pony breeds where factors other than speed and size are desirable characteristics, OC is also rare. These facts suggest that sports and racehorse breeders have inadvertently introduced a trait for OC along with other desired traits. There is a strong link between height and OC, suggesting that one of the desired traits with unintended consequences is height. This is of particular relevance in sports horses: the Dutch warmblood has become taller at a rate of approximately 1 mm per year over the past decades, which might not seem much but it is still an inch in 25 years. Van Weeren points out that if the two-hands tall Eohippus or Hyracotherium and the browsing forest-dweller with which equine evolution



f Fig 1: Each row of X-rays on the left and standard and magnified ultrasound images on the right are from the same young foal. In the top foal’s ultrasound images (b) distinct V-shape indentations and in the next row, small circular areas of cartilage retention in US image (d) are normal. In the bottom set (f) early osteochondrosis creates the semicircular wider indentation













Fig 2. The top row shows subclinical osteochondrosis lesions in a 67-day-old foal. The OC lesion is obvious in the lateromedial X-ray (arrow, a) but not on the oblique projection (b). Ultrasonography showed defects in two areas, visualized here in long axis (c) and transverse planes (d). The lower row shows a 118-day-old foal with a healing lesion. Changes are minimal on X-rays (arrows e & f), but the ultrasonographic examination revealed a multifocal semicircular defect (red circle, g & h). This illustrates that ultrasonography is a more effective tool for monitoring healing than radiography

Understanding which genetic variants are associated with a particular disease can give important clu ues on the biological processes that contribute to that cond dition. This, in turn, can reveal novel drug targets and impro ove therapy. Gene expression studies can also explain exactlyy how some undesirable traits, like OC, are closely linked to desirable traits. Equine genetic studies of this type are stiill relatively rare. Dr. Naccache’s group in Hannover are app plyyiing i these cutting edge technologies to study OC in the Haanoverian breed, where OC is highly heritable. But this ressearch area is relatively unexplored in racing breeds, and more work is urgently needed for the Thoroughbred. What we do know about genetics and OC in Th horoughbreds is that OC actually has lower heritability compared d to warmbloods. Drs. John and Tom Russell of Victorria Equine Group in Australia recently reported some of theirr work, which involved collaboration with researchers Rich hard Reardon and Oswald Matika from the University of Edinburgh to look at this issue. Sales X-rays from almost 2,000 Thoroughbred yearlings were reviewed, and d horses were classified as being OC-affected or not. Pedigree infformation was analyzed to granddam and grandsire level. An An import rttant outcome was that it showed that non-genetic facto ors such as nutrition also are very important in Thoroughb bred OC. Heritability of OC is lower in Thoroughbreds than n in other breeds, but among the various forms of OC seen in n this group of yearlings, stifle OC and in particular OC lesions of the lateral trochlear ridge of the distal femur (L LRTF) were more heritable than OC of the hock and fetlo ock. LRTF lesions are one of the forms of OC most likely to adversely affect a horse’s racing career. On the oth her hand, these lesions can heal in foals up to about eight months



of age with appropriate management. Therefore, there is considerable benefit in identifying these lesions early— ideally before joint distension is easily apparent on visual inspection. To meet this clinical need, a group of Canadian veterinarians led by Professor Sheila Laverty has developed an ultrasound technique for screening the stifle of young foals. Dr. Gabrielle Martel reported on work performed on 46 Thoroughbreds on a single farm. The foals were examined with an ultrasound unit similar to the equipment used for tendon scanning. X-rays—the current standard technique for diagnosing OC—were obtained for comparison. Very young foals have thick cartilage that gradually remodels to bone as the foal grows. The interface between the cartilage and bone (i.e., the chondro-osseus interface) is highly indented in young foals and gradually becomes smoother and thinner with age. There is also change in the pattern of small blood vessels within the cartilage as the joint develops. Looking for changes in these three features can identify OC. In early OC lesions, characteristic semi-circular indentations are easily distinguished with ultrasound. Ultrasound imaging effectively monitored healing, and subtle changes not obvious with radiography could be picked up with ultrasonography. Ultrasound is widely available and, with training, easy to perform. Repeated ultrasound exams are more practical than multiple X-rays. In this work, Dr. Martel has provided stud vets with very useful information that will allow them to more effectively identify and manage OC of the stifle in young Thoroughbreds.

Very young foals have thick cartilage that gradually remodels to bone as the foal grows.

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Zoe Metz





avier Jose Sierra has survived if not prospered for 45 years in a game he loves. Yet, he does not warrant a bio in any media guide. He is racing’s Invisible Man. The 66-year-old trainer has been sedulously plying his trade despite lack of recognition, ego be damned. A native of El Paso, Sierra stands on a foundation adorned with pillars of self-confidence, gained in no small part from a proper upbringing in a family of 12 children, and tours early on with legendary trainers D. Wayne Lukas and J.J. Pletcher, father of Todd Pletcher. Sierra grew up in Juarez where he played soccer as a kid. At 14 he aspired to be a jockey at Sunland Park in New Mexico, but his father, Cirilo, a native of Mexico, made education a priority. Javier aborted racing, went to school at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. Eventually, he earned an MBA while still working full time. “I was doing well as an engineer,” Sierra said. “I worked my way up to vice president at an aerospace company.” The appeal of the turf, however, proved an alluring temptress. Duly smitten, Sierra ultimately came to California in 1976. “As soon as I graduated from college, I loved racing so much, I bought a couple horses,” he said. “I was doing both jobs at the same time, training horses and working in the aerospace industry.” Most of Javier’s family were involved in racing. “All my brothers worked in racing in different positions, grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, thanks to my father, who was a trainer. “While in college, I worked three summers for Lukas when he trained quarter horses in New Mexico, and with J.J. Pletcher one year at Sunland Park. I remember Todd being there. He was probably five years old. “I learned a lot from both men, especially Pletcher. I was impressed with the quality of horses he brought in from back east. One was a son of Bold Ruler named First Edition. J.J.’s training regimen was amazing, completely unlike everyone else there at the time. “Gerald Bloss was another big trainer from New York who was in New Mexico in the ‘60s. He was like Baffert is now. He had big owners, like DuPont, and used different techniques from those of the cowboys. We learned a lot from those guys.” Bloss trained the great Gallant Man in the first part of his two-year-old season before he was transferred to New York with John Nerud. Gallant Man, along with Bold Ruler and Round Table, in 1957 comprised arguably the greatest crop of threeyear-olds ever. Gallant Man finished second by a nose to Iron Liege and Bill Hartack in that year’s Run for the Roses when Bill Shoemaker, aboard Gallant Man, misjudged the finish line and stood up in the stirrups in the shadow of the wire. Gallant Man went on to win the Belmont Stakes and at age 34, became the longest living horse to win a Triple Crown race. He died on Sept. 7, 1988. Count Fleet was the previous record holder, having died on Nov. 30, 1987 at the age of 33 years, eight months.



“My older brother, Cirilo Jr., was an assistant trainer for Jake Casio who conditioned quarter horses in New Mexico for many years,” Sierra continued, “but when Jake died, I asked my brother to help me train at Santa Anita. Ten years ago, he retired and I took over training full time, giving up my job in aerospace.” All these years later, he is a mainstay in the Golden State, making Santa Anita his headquarters save for tours at Del Mar when the seaside track is open. He lives 17 miles from Santa Anita in La Crescenta, with his wife, Dulce. He has never raced on the East Coast. A typical training day is similar to that of most horsemen. “I get up around 4:30 and get to the barn around 5, 5:30,” Sierra said. “We start getting horses to the track at 6:30. The grooms get everything ready, do the cleaning, and concentrate on preparing the horses for their exercises. After they go through their gallops or breezes, we check them again to make sure they’re OK. “We administer medications and ice their legs as needed, and do whatever else is necessary. The horses are given some grain at four in the morning and when they’re finished training, a half a gallon of oats.” A self-taught blue-collar bloodlines buff, Sierra has enjoyed success breeding and buying on the cheap. He hasn’t had any Carry Backs or Seattle Slews yet but he’s had others that have more than paid their way. “All the horses I claimed for $8,000, $10,000 improved,” he said. “Some won at the $50,000 level and some in allowance races. All earned more than $50,000. “I paid $2,200 for Tule Fog and he’s already won $150,000. I bought Plain Wrap for $1,700 and he’s earned over $100,000 and is still racing. Bella Sierra cost $2,000 and earned more than $70,000. “Another was Blue Grass Reward, who I received from Nick Alexander (long-time prominent owner and breeder in California, and current president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California).



“Veterinarians and previous trainers of the horse said Blue Grass Reward would never run again, so he was given to me for free. I wound up winning three races with him and close to $100,000.” Perhaps his most successful campaigner and certainly the most popular is a nine-year-old named Muchos Besos (many kisses in Spanish), owned by Hugo Catalan. If ever there was a horse for course, it’s Muchos Besos and Santa Anita, where the gray has won nine of 39 starts, with eight seconds and 12 thirds, earning $286,311. “He’s a nice, honest horse,” said Sierra, who generally books veteran jockey Matt Garcia to ride the committed front-runner. A 48-year-old veteran from San Jose, Garcia and Muchos Besos enjoy rapport that borders on being fictive. Garcia was sidelined for two and a half years from August 2013 until January 2016 while recovering from major injuries to his neck and back suffered in a spill at Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, California. But a comeback was never in question. “Riding is what I love,” Garcia said. As for Garcia and Muchos Besos, it’s a match made in racing heaven. “It seems like they both like each other,” Sierra said. “Matt stopped riding for a long while, but I put him back on and he rides with the reins kind of loose, and that’s what the horse likes. “I believe in a jockey for the horse and a horse for the jockey. Matt and Muchos get along very well.” Says Garcia, who began his career at the Salinas Rodeo in 1986: “Javier is a wonderful person and wonderful trainer. He’s honest, very loyal and does the best he can with the stock he has. If he had owners who gave him younger horses and quality horses, he would do very well with them. “Give a trainer a good horse and he’ll win.” On the whole, Sierra has done well despite parsimonious limitations not necessarily of his own making. “Five years ago,” Sierra said, “I had 30 horses, mainly claimers, and a team of good employees. After improving horses I had claimed, I approached other owners to solicit more business but they never sent me any horses. I was disappointed, but took it in stride and decided to stick with my small barn. Now I have 12 horses and a couple of loyal owners.




“All my horses have become winners and made money for me. The money I earned training for others I used to pay my help and for other expenses. Fortunately, the horses I owned always did well for me. “Mainly I rely on the breeding and conformation, but obviously, for the prices I pay, conformation is not perfect. I’m very good with bloodlines. The horses I buy become winners, but as I said, for those prices, they’re not perfect. “I know how to train them, how to get them ready and how to get the best out of them. That’s the key. I get discouraged with rich owners who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for horses that don’t pan out. “I’ve offered to select horses for well-heeled investors for free, because with my knowledge, I’m confident I’d succeed. I’ve proven that with cheap horses, so imagine how I’d do if I could spend 50 or $100,000 for a horse. I’ve been studying breeding since 1976 and concentrate on successful combinations. “But the most important thing is the training, knowing when to stop on a horse, when to keep going, because they all get hurt. I don’t care who the trainer is, who the horse is. Eventually, they’re going to get hurt, but if you’re conscientious and apply preventive maintenance, it helps. “I believe in giving the horse time to develop and time to recover after a strenuous effort. “Minor ailments show up but if you catch them in time, you can stop on a horse and give it a chance to recover.” Sierra adheres to fundamental humanitarian beliefs in accordance with his equine morals. Former jockey and trainer Chera Cluck, 57, believes horses are a gift from God to nurture and protect. A




RACING WILL BE MY LIFE UNTIL I DIE. decade ago, when she didn’t know where her next meal was coming from, Sierra was there for her. “About 10 years ago when we were both stabled at Hollywood Park, I was going through a really hard time,” Cluck recalled. “I was just holding on, literally eating 99 cent burritos from El Pollo Loco and putting whatever money I had into the horses, caring for them and preparing them. “I wouldn’t cheat them, but I would cheat myself. Every time Javier had a barbecue, he would invite me over to have carne asada with him, and I honestly believe that’s what kept me alive until things improved financially. “I appreciate what he did. He made sure I was eating properly, and since I’m a very private person, I never would have taken the initiative to do something like that on my own.” As one of a dozen children, it was ingrained early in Javier to share and share alike, a principle that serves him well to this day. “There are 10 of us left,” he said, “and we’re very close together. We were taught to help anybody if we could, and that’s what I did for Chera.” Sierra’s philosophy, coupled with an unflagging dedication and passion for what he does, keeps him pushing ever onward in a game fraught with frailties that might prove overbearing to a lesser man. But not Javier Jose Sierra. His future is infinite. “Racing,” he says, “will be my life until I die.”




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Eclipse Sportswire, Stacie Roberts





he lifeblood of Thoroughbred racing has always been its owners, and in recent years there have been many creative ways to attract newcomers to the sport, as well as retain those already in it. Rather than sitting back and waiting for new clients to seek their services, trainers have taken a proactive role in bolstering their business, often in partnership with farms and racetracks, while industry organizations are increasingly focused on providing a plethora of information as well as assistance to prospective owners. “From what I see, the number of owners in Thoroughbred racing is staying the same or decreasing,” said Duncan Taylor, president of Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. “And people that you want to stay in the business often don’t stay very long. They get frustrated with the status quo and there’s an ‘old guard’ in Kentucky that don’t want to change.” Taylor, who serves on Keeneland’s Board of Directors and the Keeneland Executive Board, is also a board member of Horse Country, Inc., an organization of horse farms, equine medical clinics and equine attractions, the aim of which is to develop fans and future owners of the sports through tourism. For a small fee, people can sign up for tours of Lexington-area farms on the web site “Kentucky is in a prime spot,” said Taylor. “And where Lexington is situated is about a six-to-eight hour drive of three-quarters of the United States population. We have the Bourbon Trail here, and tours of distilleries are very popular. About 2-½ years ago myself, Headley Bell, Price Bell, Brutus Clay and others thought we should have a similar venture for the Thoroughbred industry. We started Horse Country, and we feel Kentucky can be a destination for travelers. Our first year we had about 1,800 people sign up for tours here at Taylor Made, while

this year we’re looking at about 9,000, so it’s growing. We could have even bigger growth if marketed correctly. “Of those 9,000 people, maybe 40 are interested in doing something, so we plant the seeds in people’s minds about ownership,” said Taylor. Taylor Made has branched out into other areas to attract new owners, including a pinhooking venture with Bloodstock Investments, run by Katie Taylor-Marshall, and Medallion Racing, a racing partnership with the aim of offering an ideal experience for potential owners. Medallion, headed by racing manager Phillip Shelton, buys minority interest in graded stakes-caliber fillies, immediately bringing investors to the graded stakes level. Taylor said there have been discussions about doing something, perhaps a syndicate, with progeny of Classic winner California Chrome, who stands at Taylor Made, but there isn’t anything on the table right now. The farm partnered with journalist Geoffrey Gray when he started the “People’s Horse” venture, which had 300 people sign up for $100 each and became “owners” of the Munnings mare Colorful Bride, in foal to the stallion. The birth of the Chrome foal was broadcast live on a “horsecam” that streamed around-the-clock from Colorful Bride’s stall, with an estimated 1,000 people watching. Taylor also feels that if the sport wants to get new fans and owners, it needs to treat horseplayers better. “Years ago, there wasn’t as much competition for the betting dollar,” he said. “Now we’re competing against casinos, which really cater to customer service. Racing doesn’t focus on people who want to bet, and we haven’t been innovative on changing how you bet. Most people that bet the lottery want to put a little money down and have a life-changing experience. We ought to think like that. If we can get on the same web site or platform as sports betting, if someone sees they can bet baseball, football and horse racing, it could help us tremendously. We can’t keep doing business as usual.”


ABOVE: Thoroughbred Race Club’s Manager Vera Simpson (second from right) in the walking ring at Woodbine with trainer Reade Baker (second from left) and jockey Kazushi Kimura RIGHT: Duncan Taylor, president of Taylor Made Farm, with California Chrome





anadian trainer Francine Villeneuve and longtime breeder Vera Simpson have each launched initiatives to attract new owners at their base at Woodbine Racetrack. Woodbine, on the outskirts of Toronto, Canada, offers fans and owners a world-class experience and offered its support to both Villeneuve and Simpson with their ventures. Both Villeneuve and Simpson have found that road a bit bumpy, for different reasons. From the mid-1980s to 2011, Villeneuve rode in the biggest races in the world at some of the most famous tracks, becoming the first Canadian woman jockey to win 1,000 races. After she retired, she became a trainer and was part of a new venture in 2016 to get people interested in racing.

TOP: Owners Sport of Queens in the Woodbine walking ring with managing trainer Francine Villeneuve (third from right) and jockey Steven Bahen for Callielikedherbrew’s race in June 2018 RIGHT: Sport of Queens Managing Trainer Francine Villeneuve and Steven Bahen in the walking ring at Woodbine for Callielikedherbrew’s race in June



“I had just started training, and I’d seen different syndicates popping up,” said Villeneuve. “I thought it was important that the industry try to do something with people who didn’t have a lot of money get involved in low-cost, low-risk ventures. So a syndicate was created with the idea of attracting those people, and to help educate them about the sport.” The first horse for the syndicate unfortunately failed to win in five starts, but the second, Callielikedherbrew, broke her maiden at Woodbine in December and has since won three more times, including back-to-back victories at Fort Erie Race Track this summer, earning $40,975. Once the filly’s career ends, so will the syndicate. Despite a few ups and downs Villeneuve said it was definitely a positive experience.


“It was also a great learning experience for me, and I made many friends,” she said. “Several people have now joined with me in other horses, but in much smaller group numbers of four and five.” Simpson, a former provincial director of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, has owned and operated Curraghmore Farm with her husband Michael Dube, for nearly 35 years. Simpson’s goal in creating Thoroughbred Race Club was to attract new owners for Woodbine while also developing buyers of Ontario-bred horses. “I had the passion and I gleaned the idea from the successful race club at Royal Ascot,” she said. “I wanted to make it accessible and fun, to introduce people to trainers and make it a great experience. But I wanted to push the idea to people outside of racing, to golf and social clubs, and especially the equestrian world. The lack of owners is a huge problem in Canada, and the powers that be in racing believe new horse owners come through bettors, but I believe they come from horse lovers.” For a buy-in price of $20,000, the Thoroughbred Race Club offers an opportunity to be part of a group affiliated with up to 10 racehorses, risk-free, while being handled by Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Reade Baker and his wife, Janis Maine.

Woodbine offers Thoroughbred Race Club members first-class treatment, including Royal Enclosure tickets for the Queen’s Plate, functions in the Woodbine Suite, select wines, seated dinners, and backstretch tours. But to date, Simpson hasn’t got any business yet but continues to personally subsidise the horses the club has in training. “I’m not discouraged, I’m disappointed,” she said, stating that she didn’t think the buy-in price was a barrier to investors. “I haven’t gotten to the people I need to.” Syndicates and partnerships are not new to the industry in Canada however the initiative to find new owners to participate in such groups and partnerships or as individual owners has historically been left up to individual trainers. That is about to change. Recently the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) of Ontario has contracted former Jockey Club of Canada Executive Director, Stacie Roberts, to head a committee tasked with creating and managing an owner program that will introduce new participants to the thoroughbred racing industry in Ontario. Ontario is Canada’s most populated province and is home to both Woodbine and Fort Erie race tracks. The sole focus of the HBPA’s new committee will be to attract new racehorse owners to both racetracks. “Racing associations and organizations in Canada each have their own initiatives within their organizations to promote new ownership however that focus sometimes gets lost in the everyday running of the organization,” commented Roberts. “There are plenty of terrific ideas that have been brought to the table already and with the dedicated focus of the group we are confident that our concentrated effort will be the key to bringing new owners into the industry in Ontario.”


any racetracks have started their own racing clubs for new owners, with the Churchill Downs Racing Club having the highest profile to date. “We picked up the concept at the Arizona Symposium of Racing and launched the Club in 2016,” said Gary Palmisano, VIP Player Services Manager for Churchill

ABOVE: Stacie Roberts

LEFT: D. Wayne Lukas




ABOVE: Thoroughbred Race Club’s four-year-old gelding Dhani leaving the walking ring at Woodbine with jockey Slade Callaghan aboard


Downs, who represents the Club’s interests and serves as a liaison for club members. “We asked D. Wayne Lukas early on to be our first trainer, and initially he was concerned how it would work, but now sees how good it is for racing. We sold out 200 shares at $500 each in 48 hours, in large part because of Wayne agreeing to be part of the experience. Also, there are no additional expenses beyond the $500.” Palmisano said the Club’s first horse, a private purchase by Lukas named Warrior’s Club, won the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes and has earned more than $700,000. “Warrior’s Club set everything off, it really kickstarted the Club,” he said. “Since then, we’ve used other trainers Dallas Stewart, Tom Amoss, Dale Romans, Al Stall - and from the initial 200 we’ve grown to more than 1,200 partners. More than 50 from the initial 400 have gone on to join with others to form their own syndicates or own horses individually.” Palmisano said that Churchill Downs noticed a decline in the number of owners from Louisville, so the idea was to promote ownership to people from that city.


“What we’ve found, however, is that people from more than 30 states have joined the Club,” he said. Palmisano said each trainer decides how to acquire the horse, but because the Club is designed for instant action, it specifically wants a 2-year-old in training. Members get benefits such as regular email updates on the horse, visits to the track in the early mornings to watch the horse train, trips to the paddock, a season-long owner parking pass, and invitations to exclusive Churchill Downs Racing Club events at the track. Indiana Grand’s ownership concept, Grand Gesture Stable, celebrated its first victory September 23 when Bold Concept broke her maiden for her 44 owners. Now in its second season, Grand Gesture allows fans to own a share of a racehorse at Indiana Grand during the 2018 racing meet for a one-time fee of $300. At the end of the year, Bold Concept will be sold and, after all expenses are paid, including the purchase price of the horse, any funds left over will be divided evenly among all owners. Bold Concept is trained by Anthony Granitz.



he Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association have taken an active role in attracting prospective owners to the sport through its Thoroughbred OwnerView website, a resource that contains a wealth of information for both new and current owners. The website was created as one of nine recommendations to grow ownership as a result of a major industry study released by The Jockey Club in 2011. The study, commissioned by The Jockey Club and conducted in association with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, analyzed the current state and the future of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in North America after interviewing nearly 1,000 people about their experiences as Thoroughbred owners. “One of the things the McKinsey study found was that it’s difficult to get people involved in ownership because of the complexity of the sport,” said Gary Falter, who leads OwnerView for The Jockey Club as well as the annual Thoroughbred Owner Conference, both created to help solve the problem. On its homepage, OwnerView lists 24 different categories that a prospective owner can click on and find information on trainers, syndicates, advisors, incentives, stallion farms, ownership, licensing, auctions, and aftercare, to name just a few. Clicking on “Owner Conference” shows details about the annual three-day conference, scheduled this year at Churchill Downs to coincide with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Among the schedule of events is a panel discussion with industry experts that addresses the essentials of ownership - accounting, legal, insurance, advisors, acquisitions and business plans. “What we’re seeing are owners increasingly coming into the sport through partnerships and syndicates,” said Falter. “Fractional ownership can be the way to go for newcomers.”

The Owner Conference has welcomed many of the sport’s top trainers as panelists, among them Richard Mandella, Jerry Hollendorfer, Ken McPeek, Bill Mott and Graham Motion, and Falter said some have acquired new clients thanks to the conference.


he Commonwealth of Virginia may not have a current racing program, but its breeders association has developed a new program in order to bolster breeding and ownership. The Virginia Certified program was unveiled last year for horses foaled outside of Virginia, but which maintain residency in Virginia for at least a six-month period prior to December 31 of their two-year-old year at a certified farm or training center. Owners of Virginia Certified horses are then eligible for 25 percent owners bonuses for non-Virginia-restricted wins at racetracks in the mid-Atlantic region. “Part of the reason we created the Virginia Certified program was because it was hard for us to compete with states that have alternative gaming,” said Debbie Easter, executive director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, who noted that the Delaware Certified program was used as a model. “The response has been great. We went from 400 horses the first year (2017) to 700 this year. It’s been spectacular for the farms, their stalls are full and they’re hiring people. It’s been an agricultural and economic boon for us and certainly has gotten new owners involved.” Easter said that, without a full racing schedule, Virginia lost the ability to attract horses. “We’re still breeding quality horses, but the Virginia Certified program might be the best thing that’s ever been done,” she said, adding that Colonial Downs is expected to reopen next year.

BELOW: Warriors Club, one of many horses owned by the Churchill Downs Racing Club, winning the G3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland





Lissa Oliver Charles Owen, Shutterstock, Caroline Norris & Eclipse Sportswire


s helmet technology moves forward, concussion remains an issue. So the question we must ask is whether this is despite improvements to helmets, or because of them. Could the lifestyle of a work rider contribute to the risk of sustaining concussion in a fall, or could a change in lifestyle protect against the risk? Can a poor state of mental health increase the risk of concussion, or is mental health affected by repeated concussion? These are just some of the questions being asked by scientists, doctors and engineers in ongoing research to protect riders. A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when a blow to the head causes



the brain to spin rapidly in the opposite direction from where the head was struck and is the most common type of “closed brain injury,” where the skull is not split. Those suffering from concussion may have symptoms such as headache, sensitivity to light, tinnitus, dizziness, sleepiness, confusion and behavioural changes; although many of these symptoms can also be caused by other injuries sustained in a fall and unrelated to brain injury. A specific diagnosis is vital to securing the necessary treatment and correct aid to recovery. Our natural protection comes from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which cushions the brain within the skull and serves as a shock absorber for the central nervous system. CSF is often thought of as existing

only between the brain and the skull, but the brain has a much more complicated structure. CSF also fills a system of cavities at the center of the brain, known as ventricles, as well as the space surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The transfer of energy when a rider’s head hits the ground causes rapid acceleration and deceleration, which briefly deform the brain. Because of this deformation, the volume of the brain decreases while the volume of the rigid skull remains unchanged. CSF flows into the skull from the spinal cord and fills the empty spaces created by the brain deformation, flowing back with acceleration and forward with deceleration, to prevent the brain impacting against the skull.


Research on turf impact has shown that concussion can occur without any associated helmet damage. The soft surface of the turf distorts and collapses, instead of the helmet, and the energy from the impact is transferred to the head. Currently, equestrian helmets are designed and tested to protect the head from impact with hard surfaces, but concussion most commonly occurs after being thrown from a horse onto a soft surface such as turf. To improve performance for concussive injury, helmet technology needs to be rethought. Several research projects have risen to this challenge, with help from the sporting communities most at risk. A key player in this research is the NFL and in 2016 pledged $100 million, to become one of the largest funders of concussion research in the U.S. Its “Play Smart, Play Safe” initiative aimed to spend $60 million to create a safer helmet as a means of reducing concussion, joining with global sports organizations such as the NHL and World Rugby. Another major research group is HEADS, an Innovation Training Network funded under the European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Programme, structured around 13 individual research projects focusing on the three main topics of accident reconstruction and simulation, head model refinement and helmet certification improvements. This involves six partners, three industry and three academic across five countries who are already

involved in working toward new helmet standards: Lead Partner, University College Dublin, Ireland; KU Leuven, Belgium; KTH-Stockholm, Sweden; AGV, Italy; Lazer Sport, Belgium; and Charles Owen, Britain. Charles Owen is widely recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of riding helmets and the company was chosen in 2015 as one of five first-round winners of the $60 million Head Health Challenge presented by the NFL to develop new advanced materials for helmets. Professor Roy Burek of Cardiff University is the managing director of Charles Owen, and one of the supervisors of the HEADS project. He explains, “The length of time the impact lasts in contact with the surface is becoming an important factor. For example, impact lasts five milliseconds on steel, but 25-30 milliseconds on softer surfaces. We are seeing concussions at much lower force levels which can only be explained by taking the time into account. “There are a huge number of blood vessels in the brain, which are stronger and stiffer than neurons (brain cells), so when you are distorting the brain you are straining neurons through a matrix of blood vessels. In CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) studies, the damage is focused around the blood vessels due to the much, much higher local strains. “The neurons have viscoelastic properties and if you stretch them over a


short space of time they stiffen and resist stretching, but if you continue to pull, they start to stretch. It is the amount of stretch that causes the body to react. This is why we are particularly interested in the time interval of impact.” Burek suggests that helmet development in the past, by not looking at the surface or impact time, may have failed in protecting the milder forms of brain injury that we are only starting to understand their importance. “Slowing the rate of energy transfer rate down is the normal thing we do, but at some point rather than protecting the brain we could actually be causing injury. Are we finding a ground and helmet combination that is making the impact last so long we’re causing injury?” he wonders. “There is another area we need to consider in how the helmet works with the ground. Historically, helmet design has just focused on the exterior surface. However when the helmet hits the ground, it comes to an abrupt stop as there’s not much momentum due to its lightness. On the outside the helmet sticks to the ground, while the head slides within the helmet, which means we have two active surfaces. So now we have to design the inside of the helmet, which is very revolutionary. ISSUE 50 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




“We want the inner surface to allow the skull to slide and move, similar to the scalp. Out of KTH in Stockholm, a new technology has developed called MIPS with a plastic shield on the inside of the helmet, designed to slide from side-to-side, attenuating tangential forces when we impact the ground at speed. The technology mimics the body’s own brain protection. In most equestrian accidents the scalp alone is sufficient protection, but as the speed of riding increases, there is some benefit in having a second biofidelic scalp.” Burek’s group has also studied data from helmets involved in equestrian falls. “Helmets from the racing and eventing community have been examined with financial help from BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association). All the helmets were from those who have had a head injury. We found 35% of helmets had not permanently absorbed any energy from the fall, which then suggested are we designing helmets for more extreme accidents than are commonly happening? How do we deal with this? Do



we say riders rarely get kicked in the head so we don’t need helmets as protective, but instead we want a helmet to be much more absorbing at the lower end of the fall spectrum? As a society, should we allow adult athletes to decide on their level of protection? Is it about keeping you alive or reducing concussion? That’s a big debate.” The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s senior medical officer, Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, is in no doubt that current riding helmets have radically reduced the rates of concussion within the horseracing industry. He has collected figures from falls in competitive races, as well as making his own observations as a general practitioner based on the Curragh and regularly tending those involved in falls at exercise. “The researchers in this field are doing a fantastic job, and modern helmets have dramatically reduced the level of concussion I’m seeing by 95%,” he says. “There is still a lack of knowledge regarding head injury and the long-term damage to health. It would be wonderful if

research could lead to a set of biomarkers that we could use as a gold standard to regulate when a rider could return to the saddle after a concussion. That’s something we don’t have.” Another major study is being conducted at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), which earlier this summer received $15,000 from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA). “We take jockey health and safety very seriously,” NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum says. “We are thrilled to be able to help further research in the vital area of head trauma and concussion, so that we will be better able to protect our riders going forward.” Three-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramón Dominguez was forced into retirement in 2013 due to head injuries sustained in a fall and is now a key figure in connecting the racing community with researchers. “I’m in regular contact with the New York Institute of Technology and the work they are doing there is very important for me and other jockeys,” he says.


“I am connecting with the racing industry and getting the funding, and the racing industry really does care and sees this as one of the main priorities. Protecting against any risk of head injury is recognized as very important and the racing industry is very proactive in this.” Dominguez is also working with researchers from other sports who share a common concern in concussion. “Through the Jockeys Guild I met Professor Jeff Crandall, Chair of the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Engineering Subcommittee and an engineer at the University of Virginia, working on helmets. The NFL had done research where the ideal subjects were jockeys. He agreed most definitely that we are at an age now, when it comes to brain protection, that we would and should, be benefiting from each other’s work in this field. We need to collaborate with other sports while taking advantage of each other’s research. “We have a real need to develop a helmet that protects against the force of impact.

Jockeys worldwide are riding with helmets that are a lot more expensive than those previously used, but we are still seeing the same, or increased, number of concussions. So, for me, protecting the head with the right helmet is what every jockey wants, as well as other athletes at risk from head injury, and we all want something better.” Leading the NYIT study on concussion and helmet safety is Dr. Milan Toma, whose research is currently one of two NYIT initiatives aimed at elevating visibility for jockey concussions. Dr. Hallie Zwibel, director of NYIT Centre for Sports Medicine, recently partnered with the Jockeys Guild to develop “return to ride” rules that will provide instruction on when injured jockeys can safely return to racing. National protocols do not currently exist in North American horseracing. “Dr. Zwibel, Ramón Dominguez and I got together and we introduced my computational assessment of brain injuries to the Aqueduct Racetrack in New York,” reveals Dr. Toma. “They were impressed and decided to contribute $15,000 donation to our research study. While much of the discussion regarding helmet safety has been focused on other sports, I am happy to lend my expertise to help deliver much-needed awareness for horseracing. The headform used in this study represents a leap in head injury modeling by both the complexity and inclusion of the effect of the CSF on potential brain injury. “First, we need to understand the injury mechanism to reach any conclusion that could lead to adjustments in the current helmet designs. Therefore, we are currently running simulations that show us the events occurring inside the skull when the head hits the ground while wearing helmets for jockeys. Once we can see what’s happening inside the head, then we can suggest potential solutions after we confirm their efficacy. “The study is currently ongoing and it’s too soon to publish any new results,” Dr. Toma stresses. “However, within a year we should have better understanding of the injury mechanism that governs the resulting damage to the brain when exposed to conditions typical for horseracing accidents.” Improving helmet design to protect against concussion is just one focus of research, however. Prof. Burek reminds us of other key elements currently being examined. Significantly for work riders and jockeys, dehydration can increase the risk of sustaining concussion in a fall.

“Many factors can help us prevent overreaction to an impact to the head and one of them is hydration. It’s known to reduce concussive events,” reveals Burek. “Another is diet. The body has many neuro protective mechanisms and we need to enable them. For example, if there is sulphur in the diet (e.g., broccoli, cabbage and garlic), with exercise it produces the protective chemical the brain releases when it feels under threat. “We are also seeing depression as a factor in increasing the likelihood of sustaining concussion. Depression seems to activate the brain in the same way that prior impacts activate the brain to become unwell. Depression could cause worse symptoms from hitting your head than if you are happy and healthy.” Of course, not every fall results in a head injury and, indeed, not every head injury results in concussion. “Quite a number of things can be going on inside following an impact, so it should be stressed that people need to identify what type of injury they have,” warns Burek. “An impact may not always result in a mild traumatic injury to the brain. Impacts to the ear canal can create vertigo and dizziness (a totally different mechanism) but can be mistaken for concussion. There can be damage to muscles that control the eyes, which causes disorientation because the eyes are not moving together, and the














































Number of Falls











Concussions Sustained















































































































Total Falls per Season Total Concussions


Fall Rate per Ride Steeplechasing Number of Falls Concussions Sustained

Fall Rate per Ride Amateur Steeplechasing Number of Falls Concussions Sustained

Fall Rate per Ride

brain receives confused messages. A neck injury can create symptoms of pain and headaches but has nothing to do with the brain. Hormones can be disrupted, and the sexual drive or menstrual cycle affected. If the growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland is reduced, as we see in head injury studies, it can lead to depression and suicide attempts. It is important that we identify sight, ear, hormone, neck or brain? There are specialist exercises to help recovery.” Dr. McGoldrick provides clear advice for all trainers. “To reduce serious injury, a trainer should provide staff with the best available helmet and vest. Riding staff should all be wearing a level 2 safety vest of the standard EN 13158:2009 and 2018 or equivalent. The helmets should conform to the PAS 015:2011 VG01 01 2012 standard required by EU law.” Simply wearing a helmet is not enough, however. Care must be taken that the helmet fits properly and the straps are tight and secure. As Dr. Toma points out, “When the head hits the ground the brain first collides against the skull at the point of impact and then rebounds, causing injury on the opposite side. When the helmet isn’t tight enough, the head similarly rebounds inside the helmet and subsequently increases the number of times that the brain hits the skull in the point of impact and rebounds. You see a lot of loose helmet straps on professional athletes in all sports. A helmet that is too





A rider does not need to lose consciousness to suffer concussion. In the days following the fall, watch for: • Confusion, inability to remember things that happened before and/or after the injury • Slow to answer questions or follow directions • Easily distracted • Not performing duties as well as expected

loose may shift position as you ride and hit the ground, and thus reduce the helmet’s protective potential.” Ultimately, trainers have a duty of care to ensure staff are supplied with correctly fitting safety wear, but individuals can aid their well-being by following a healthy diet and avoiding dehydration. As Prof. Burek suggests, “As a jockey, if you are going to be the best then you need a plan to protect yourself, because falls are inevitable. Exercise riders also need to start out with a plan to protect themselves for the future. “The key message is that someone’s working on it, and the protection of riders is part of a whole research community. Equestrianism is up there at the top of scientific research and is not being ignored.”

• A blank stare/glassy eyed • Headache • Dizziness • Loss of vision, seeing double or blurred, seeing stars or flashing lights • Ringing in the ears • Sleepiness • Stomach ache, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting • Poor coordination or balance, unsteady on feet • Slurred speech • Poor concentration • Strange or inappropriate emotions (e.g., laughing, crying, getting angry easily) • Feeling generally unwell




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| PA B R E E D E R S |

THE RACES Jennifer Poorman

PA Breeders





ennsylvania’s Day at the Races 2018 was held Saturday, September 1, 2018. It proved to be a great day of PA-Bred racing, featuring $1 million in purses for the first year in the event’s history! Over 110 PA-Breds showcased their talents as they battled down the stretch in each of the card’s 11 races. The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association treated Pennsylvania breeders and their guests, owners and trainers to a buffet lunch, complete with a private thirdfloor view of the track. Raffle prizes included PHBA bags full of PA-Bred swag; a hand-painted cornhole game set, courtesy of J & M Custom Cornhole; and baskets loaded with horse-related items donated by the PTHA and Turning for Home. The winning stakes owners received a leather PHBA overnight bag and the winning stakes trainer received a cooler with the name of the stakes race embroidered on it for the winning PA-Bred, presented in the winner’s circle. All stakes participants



received a Patagonia backpack filled with PHBA goodies. All breeders and their guests who attended the luncheon received a PHBA tote bag filled with a blanket, hat and coffee mug. Kicking off the stakes races of the day was the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes, for fillies and mares three and up. Won by Castle Rock-bred Zipper’s Hero, the five-yearold mare by Partner’s Hero broke a step slower than the rest of the field but opened up a clear lead after the opening quarter. She led by two entering the far turn, and held off Risque’s Diamond to win by three lengths. It proved to be the most emotional race of the day. Dr. Teresa Garofalo was the treasurer of the PHBA board before she passed away in 2010 from acute myeloid leukemia. Her equine practice in West Chester, Smokey’s Run Farm, focused on equine reproduction, and the stakes in her name is a special one to the PHBA. Dr. Garofalo’s mother, Vera Vann-Wilson, and brother, Ted Vanderlaan were in attendance to present the winning trophy. “It’s such an honor to be here and I’m grateful to you all for continuing the race in her memory.

ABOVE: Zipper’s Hero winner of Dr. Theresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes ABOVE RIGHT: She’s Chubs battles down the stretch in the Power By Far Stakes for the win

| PA B R E E D E R S |

THE BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF THE DAY WAS IN THAT WINNER’S CIRCLE! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL ON THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS! She would love this,” Ted Vanderlaan expressed to PHBA staff in the winner’s circle. The emotion didn’t stop there. The win brought trainer Eddie Coletti Jr.’s earnings to over $1 million for the year so far for the first time in his career. It was also the first stakes win for the owner of Zipper’s Hero, Mario Mangini, and jockey Johan Rosado had his first stakes win for Ed Coletti, Jr. The biggest celebration of the day was in that winner’s circle! Congratulations to all on their achievements! The Mrs. Penny Stakes was moved to the main track due to rainfall the night before. The change in surface didn’t deter Mr. and Mrs. Rodman Moorhead’s bred and owned Rose Tree as she continued her incredible comeback year with her second stakes win in a row. About six lengths behind on the backstretch, the fouryear-old by Harlan’s Holiday gained from there, taking command at the top of the turn. June’s Lyphard Stakes winner Imply pushed ahead to catch the leader, but Rose Tree dug in and held on for the win. Rose Tree, under regular rider Andrew Wolfsont, and trained by Hall of

Famer Jonathan Sheppard, paid $10 to win. “She held on gamely. She’s a very nice filly,” Jonathan Sheppard told PTHA’s Dani Gibson in a post-race interview. The Banjo Picker Stakes was one of the most anticipated of the day, featuring last year’s winner The Man, bred by Glenn E. Brok LLC. Despite another wardrobe malfunction this year, he proved to be the best again, in more ways than one. Untacked in the walking ring and retacked in the paddock stall with minutes to spare, the cool-under-pressure six-year-old trained by John Servis let everyone know that he really is “The Man”. (Last year’s malfunction came after the race when he stood quietly in the winner’s circle to have a shoe pulled that came partway off during the race.) The Man, with regular rider Jorge Vargas Jr., broke well, picked up a short lead off the turn. Midtowncharlybrown, waited for room, and Pop Keenan made a late run but couldn’t outrun The Man. “We have won nine races out of ten. You cannot ask for a better horse,” said jockey Vargas postrace. This win pushed his record at Parx to 7 for 8. ISSUE 50 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



The first of two upsets came in the Roanoke Stakes. Michael Jester’s bred and owned Grasshoppin, going off at 12-1, had a perfect trip under jockey Edwin Rivera. Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, the seven-year-old son of Cat Thief sat a length back down the backstretch and kept position after fractions of 23.62 and 47.41. He caught up to pace setter Navy Commander around the final turn and opened up in the stretch. Keeping the lead under urging by Rivera, he finished in 1:44.42, paying $27. Grasshoppin finished third in the same race last year, and the connections were thrilled to come back this year and win. “To be able to come back this year… he’s not a young horse, and to run as hard as he does, it really shows you the great athlete he is,” Mike Jester said after the race.



| PA B R E E D E R S |

HE’S NOT A YOUNG HORSE, AND TO RUN AS HARD AS HE DOES, IT REALLY SHOWS YOU THE GREAT ATHLETE HE IS. The second of the upsets came in the last stakes race, the Power By Far, run on PA Day at the Races for the first time. Five furlongs on the main track after being moved off of the turf, She’s Chubs, going off at 12-1, finished a length and a quarter in front of Charlybrown’s Rose. Following about two and a half lengths behind leader Captain Sam, She’s Chubs closed the gap after the first quarter mile of 21.67. Under urging from rider Roberto Rosado, she surged ahead at the eighth pole and finished in :58:68. Bred by Rebecca Fawn Stepanoff & John Phillip Taylor Jr., owned by Aurora Vista LLC and trained by Scott Lake, the five-year-old daughter of Albert the Great racked up her first stakes win, paying $26.40. “So happy for the owners. We entered this horse 13 times, couldn’t get a race to go. Last minute we decided we were going to run off the turf and it was just tremendous,” trainer Scott Lake told PTHA’s Dani Gibson. We extend a sincere thank you to all of our members and guests who attended, as well as the board members and special guests who presented the gifts in each race. We’re looking forward to a successful and productive 2019 breeding season and wish everyone the best of luck in the coming year. Visit for a full gallery of the day’s photos.




hrilling. Challenging. Rewarding. Overwhelming. Ask anyone whose livelihood is tied to the world of Thoroughbred sales, and all of those adjectives apply, depending on the day. Or the moment. Because the whole sales process can also be intimidating at times, it’s reassuring to find there’s actually an organization that represents all players - large and small. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) is comprised of a far-reaching group of people who make their living in the Thoroughbred breeding industry. The organisation was created to provide a unified voice of representation for the breeders and consignors who provide the horses that drive the industry. The CBA was launched in 2005 by a group of prominent consignors and breeders who believed the Thoroughbred industry could improve the way commerce



Cynthia McFarland

was handled. They sought to do that by creating a nonprofit, dues-based organisation that would educate and promote unity. “If you look at the wine industry in California and Europe, the automotive industry and other trades, more often than not, unity brings about better trade. There is a cohesion of ideas and a progressive sharing of trade interests,” observes Joe Seitz, current CBA president. “There was a void where the people producing the product didn’t really have a voice. We wanted to have a seat at the table when issues came up regarding ethics and integrity, veterinary topics, sales company practices, regulatory entities, legislation, and even how sales companies design and lay out their sales and facilities,” explains Seitz. “This is a moving, fluid market, so we’re always needing to make things better for breeders, sellers and buyers.” The CBA has filled that void in a most productive manner. The organization’s mission statement says it all: “The CBA works democratically on behalf of every consignor and commercial breeder, large and small, to


provide representation and a constructive, unified voice related to sales issues, policies, and procedures. The association’s initiatives are designed to encourage a fair and expanding market place for all who breed, buy, or sell Thoroughbreds.” That might sound ambitious, but the CBA has stepped up to the proverbial plate and become an educator, advocate, and representative for pretty much everyone who makes a living connected with the Thoroughbred breeding business. Although the name does not refer to them, buyers are an integral part of the CBA’s mission. After all, when buyers have the information they need to make knowledgeable, confident, buying decisions, everyone involved - breeder, consignor, sales company and buyer – benefits. Several important initiatives lie at the core of the CBA. These include: • education • ethics and integrity • veterinary science issues • working directly with sales companies


One highly successful project of the CBA is the “Plain and Simple” series of educational books, which clearly explain various aspects of the sales process and are available for free download from the CBA’s website.


The booklets educate both buyers and sellers about key aspects of the public auction. “They’ve been requested all over the world and have been reprinted in multiple languages, even Japanese,” says Seitz. “We’ve also held three symposiums in Lexington that were well received and covered a myriad of topics important to anyone buying or selling Thoroughbreds,” he says, adding that broadcasts are posted on the website. Additional educational efforts include the CBA’s quarterly online newsletter, as well as a monthly sales calendar email filled with sales deadlines and requirements designed to help breeders who are selling, as well as consignors. The CBA is also instrumental in spreading the word about the success of American-bred horses on the international scene via the U.S.-bred marketing program. “America produces great horses and it’s our job to help people realize that. We’re one of five organizations that contribute to this marketing campaign highlighting what U.S-bred horses have done, so people looking for next year’s runners will know to source our markets here,” says Seitz. It’s worth noting that six of the top ten highest-selling horses at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up sale in April 2018 were U.S.-bred, including the sale-topping Scat Daddy colt, who sold for the equivalent of $1,350,405. At the Arqana 2018 Deauville Breeze Up Sale in May, four of the top five best-selling juveniles were bred in the U.S., including another sale-topping Scat Daddy colt, this one selling for the equivalent of $985,215. Of course, what ultimately matters is how horses perform and U.S.-bred Thoroughbreds have excelled on foreign soil. In 2017, there were 10 U.S.-bred Grade 1 winners in Europe, Asia, Dubai and Australia, and 31 Group winners. U.S-bred horses accounted for 44 Group wins and 79 Group placings last year. Recent standouts include Lady Aurelia, a multiple Group 1 winner who was named Cartier Champion Two-year-old

RIGHT: Hip 163 – Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up sale 2018 – Sale-topping Scat Daddy Colt – for the equivalent of $1,350,450




Filly (2016); and US Navy Flag, millionaire and multiple group one winner, who in 2017 became the first horse in 35 years to complete the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (Gr. 1) – Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Gr. 1) double, setting a new course record in the Dewhurst.

Ethics and integrity

There can be no equal opportunity without a fair playing field and the CBA actively strives to promote ethical dealings in horse transactions. The organisation works with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) Sales Integrity Task Force, which is charged with exploring all aspects of making sales as ethical as possible for everyone concerned. The CBA was involved with several initiatives in 2006 and 2007 in which Kentucky legislation found it unlawful to represent both buyer and seller unless both parties were notified in advance. “We joined the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity in 2015,” says Seitz. “We also worked with Keeneland and FasigTipton when they introduced the anabolic steroid testing policy in 2015, which was the first such policy in the world.” Seitz points out that the organisation also feels an obligation to care for horses after their racing careers are over. To that end, the CBA works with sales companies and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Veterinary science

It’s no surprise for an organisation focused on improving the sales process that veterinary issues consume a good deal of that focus.




ABOVE: Kerry Cauthen

AS IN ANY INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING RAPIDLY AND PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY TO ENHANCE TRADE. Gray Lyster chairs the CBA’s Veterinary Committee, which constantly works with members of the veterinary community on ways to provide information in a concise and timely manner, while at the same time presenting the horse in the best way possible. “As in any industry, technology is advancing rapidly and provides opportunity to enhance trade. The CBA is currently exploring several initiatives to possibly streamline the veterinary process: videoendoscopy and a smartphone app for veterinarians to provide veterinary information for buyers during the sale in real time,” says Seitz. “Veterinary science is ever changing,” he adds. “Breeders produce the horses and at the end of the day the veterinarians have a very important say in the sales process.”

Sales companies

The CBA regularly works with the various sales companies discussing format, facility, repository and informational issues, working hand-in-hand with the companies to improve the overall sales process. Kerry Cauthen heads the Sales Issues Committee, which canvases the CBA to find out which topics are of concern to CBA members. For example, it’s important that showing areas at all barns across the sales grounds are consistent.




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It’s also crucial to make the repositories as userfriendly and interactive as possible for veterinarians, as this makes pre-purchase exams more streamlined and efficient. “We’ve been very pleased with the cooperation and assistance we’ve received from the sales companies when we sit down to discuss issues and find common ground. They value and welcome our opinion,” notes Seitz. “We’ve been very encouraged by the reception.” Several topics that will help improve the entire sales experience are currently in discussion and in the process of being implemented as of this writing; details will be forthcoming.

“The CBA is a great organisation to provide support for both sides (buyers and sellers),” says Crow. “You get representation with everyone coming together to discuss issues and many have a voice in getting policies changed. One consignor can’t get something changed at Keeneland or FasigTipton, but by getting 20 consignors together, you can get policies and issues shifted in the direction that would be good for everybody. Our main goal is to make our business stronger.” Crow is also pleased that the CBA constantly works with sale companies regarding veterinary issues. “They’re always trying to improve the veterinary work that goes on at sales, as far as what information is available to buyers that is also constructive for the sellers,” she notes. The CBA is open to suggestions about topics of concern and educational opportunities. Members are encouraged to share their thoughts by email. Horsemen can easily become members by going to the website, clicking the “Membership” tab and clicking on either the “breeder” or “consignor” form.

Wide membership

While the association is constantly soliciting feedback from buyers, most members are producers and sellers. Of course, there is overlap and there are currently several members on the board who are actively involved in both selling and buying, and can provide insight from both perspectives. One of these is Liz Crow, a bloodstock agent based in Lexington, who consigns under the name Elite Sales and buys under the name BSW Bloodstock. Crow was a CBA member for over a year before becoming part of the board this past spring.




For more information about the CBA, visit their website – BELOW: Liz Crow

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# S O U NDB I T E S TRAINERS’ OPINIONS ON INTERFERENCE RULES Is a foul always a foul or only if it affects the finish? Does anything go coming out of the starting gate? This year, a number of major stakes races have all been determined in the stewards room. Each incident was decided by stewards acting on each jurisdiction’s rules for interference and disqualification, once again pointing out how the lack of a national body with national rules on interference and disqualifications leaves a lot of people mighty upset. Bill Heller asked trainers for their thoughts.

# Mike Stidham

I think it’s very simple. You do what you do in the NFL, you have a central body that looks over the calls. A group of stewards that are highly qualified to make those kind of calls. You’re talking about million-dollar races, stakes races important for owners. To have that taken away without justification, that’s not good for the business. Not only is it money, but it’s the status of winning a Grade 1 with a filly or mare or prospective stallion. It’s serious business and racing doesn’t take it seriously enough. Some jurisdictions look at the start of the race. Others don’t even look at it. There’s no uniformity. It’s the same thing going on in racing with medication. There needs to be a national body.

# Al Stall

# Peter Miller

Absolute rules would be good for the jockeys, trainer and owners. You could have the best stewards in the world watching the race in a central location that don’t know the horses, owners, jockeys, trainers, and they judge the incident. It would probably be better. There’s a lot of politics that go along that could be eliminated if there were standards in stewardship. There are jockeys and trainers who are more popular, ones with more power than others. If you eliminate that, if they don’t know the participants, then they adjudicate what they see. Also, I don’t know why they (the stewards) talk to jockeys. In the NFL, would they ask the guy, “Are you holding?” Racing’s the only sport that asks the participants, “Did you do it?”



Riders are super aggressive for the big money. I don’t know if it’s just an anomaly this year. I’ve heard about it, usually from the people who lose. I just think what happened recently, it’s been a little spike. I don’t see a trend. We might go another six months without a DQ in a stakes race. An NFL type thing is interesting to me, but they couldn’t watch 150 or 300 races a day. If you make it for big races only, the betting public wouldn’t look at it in a good way. A graded stakes ought to be looked at the same way as a maiden $50 claimer is.

# Linda Rice

I know it’s been a kind of difficult year for the stewards with DQs in a lot of major races. There have been so many difficult calls. It should be reviewed. It needs to be looked at. It affects Eclipse Awards and championships.

# Tom Amoss

The decisions are all over the board. Whether or not a foul caused a placing? That makes no sense. You’re literally trying to play god. A foul is a foul. It should be very straightforward forward. Did the horse foul the other? It’s a rule that needs to be nationalized. It’s not that the stewards are getting it right or not. There’s no transparency between the stewards and the general public. There’s not a sport around that doesn’t explain disqualifications. That doesn’t happen in horse racing. Why aren’t stewards from all jurisdictions explaining their decisions at the time they happen to the public? You shouldn’t have to go to the stewards’ website to see why they made a decision. When you think about it, who are the best people to watch the race and make decisions? The very good handicapper understands what a foul is better than a steward in the racing administration with no skin in the game. Stewards need to be more qualified on how to watch the race. We’re left scratching our heads.

# D. Wayne Lukas # Wayne Catalano

Most of them (disqualifications) are very, very borderline. It’s very hard when a horse crosses the wire to finish line first, to take him down. But anytime there’s contact, there should be a disqualification. Unless it’s 50-50 contact. It’s not a contact sport.

It’s like the NFL, the NBA. They’re all accredited officials. they’re making judgement calls as they see them. You have to just believe these are competent officials. You can make a national standard, but it’s still going to be a judgment call. The thing that is the most concern is a foul in New York is one thing, a foul in Keeneland is something else. Each state has its own agenda. If you can get all of them in one room together, they could make national standards, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.























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Shaman Ghost

Multiple G1 winner of $3.8 million New to Kentucky in 2019

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Trainer Magazine, North American Edition - Breeders' Cup, issue 50  

Cover Trainer Profile - Bill Mott Mr Woodbine - Jim Lawson on his plans for growth at the Ontario oval Ride & Guide - our guide to what hors...

Trainer Magazine, North American Edition - Breeders' Cup, issue 50  

Cover Trainer Profile - Bill Mott Mr Woodbine - Jim Lawson on his plans for growth at the Ontario oval Ride & Guide - our guide to what hors...