Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2013 Contents A56
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, May 22, 2013
On May 31, the second leg of the
Triple Crown will be run off with a
disappointing turnout of nine horses
having paid the final subscriptions.
The first leg also witnessed a fairly
disappointing turnout with only six
This translates into a total of 15 com-
petitors in the first two triple crown
races, which must be some sort of mod-
ern day record.
This journalist certainly cannot recall
the last time the country s first two
premier classics were contested by such
a meagre number of horses. The ques-
tion is obviously what is happening to
the breed in T&T.
This year was supposed to be a water-
shed year for the local breed in this
We were going to see the first three-
year-old offspring of at least three excit-
ing stallions---Maraahel, Charismatic
Cat and Gold Market.
While each have had many offspring,
only Gold Market, via his Pot of Gold,
has made an impact on the classics thus
far.While it is way too early to evaluate
these stallions, one must assess what
might be the reason for the relative lack
of quality runners on the local classic
scene. In fact, one commentator has
commented that the classic crop is one
of the poorest in recent times.
There is no doubt that we have not
seen as many runners as we would have
liked but the cause is what we are in
pursuit of. One of the first facts that
jumps out is the low number of three-
year-old starters that we have seen,
Discussions with many of the coun-
try s trainers indicate that there has
been a particularly high rate of injuries
among local horses this year, and the
three-year-old crop in particular.
The reason most frequently advocated
for this is the dryness of the track due
to the dry weather season and the ARC s
ineffective watering policy.
While the former was outside of the
club s control, given its annual recur-
rence, one would have thought that the
club would have adequate measures in
place to reduce its impact on the racing
One can only hope that 2014 shows
that the 2013 lessons have been learnt.
Another factor put forward by expe-
rienced racing personnel is that the local
breed is continuing to regress in terms
of their level of development.
This is best illustrated by the con-
tinued low level of runners in the early
two-year-old races and the relatively
late start to the racing careers of our
two-year-olds in general. Our two-
year-olds generally do not begin racing
until August or September of their juve-
In the mid 70s, early 80s, these ani-
mals began racing around July, but cer-
tainly since centralisation we have seen
the dates gradually pushed back.
The challenge then becomes that the
locally-bred horses see their develop-
ment being rushed by eager connections
given the short classic season.
The Derby comes up in September
and there are very few quality races for
West Indian-bred animals at the end
of their classic season.
This hustle no doubt contributes to
some of the injuries experienced by the
classic crop. There are no easy solutions
to this challenge since the Derby is
already one of the latest run in the
One possibility might be to revisit
the classic distances and revert to the
days when the first classic was only run
over 1,400 metres and progress the dis-
tances from there.
A third contributor is the aggressive
training methods of most of our trainers
and the use of medication in aiding the
development of our animals. Most horse
racing people would be aware of the
different treatment of medication in
the US compared with the UK.
The pros and the cons won t be
argued here but there must be some
truth to the argument that the use of
medication in Trinidad somewhat masks
the progress of our young horses and
contributes to their susceptibility to
Trinidad should really look at adopt-
ing the standards which apply in most
of the developed countries---ironically,
it may aid in the longevity of our hors-
es.The final contributor that should be
investigated is the riding style of many
of our jockeys and exercise riders.
It is very important that the exercise
rider is able to give the trainer feedback
as to the horse s performance at the
It is equally important that the rider
has the skill to get the horse to do what
he would like it to, for example, changing
leads in the home straight.
When top rider Emile Ramsammy
was in Trinidad during the first three
or four months of the year, he provided
invaluable insight to those trainers who
used his services at gallops and subse-
quently in various races itself.
To the extent that this aspect can be
improved, there is sure to be a reduction
in injuries to our racehorses.
It is high time that additional focus
is placed on the well-being of our local
horse population. AB
Oxbow, ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, wins the 138th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course,
Saturday, in Baltimore.
Andre E Baptiste
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