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Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday Night Notes - May 29

- A quiet Memorial Day weekend for Barbaro, who continues to do extremely well. He’s not out of the woods yet of course, and the doctors maintain that it could be months before they know whether Barbaro will survive. [Bloodhorse]

Meanwhile, the flood of news stories continues. Yet another major piece in the NY Times today, this one requiring merely the free registration. Maybe there is something to this “no such thing as bad publicity” thing. The article today ranks as the second most emailed sports story, behind only the Bobby Bonds news. This piece is by Bill Finley, and it’s a comprehensive look at the relationship, if any, between Barbaro’s false start and the injury. Much of it is a rehash of debates we’ve been hearing for a week. But it includes this fascinating theory by a Dr. Sid Gustafson, a Montana-based veterinarian.

"In regard to the Preakness, as unfortunate as it was, and albeit in retrospect, the examining veterinarian should have scratched Barbaro after he broke out of the gate before the starter began the race......The horse tweaked something somewhere as a result of the tremendous force required to break open the gate, and as a result, he was most likely getting off his front end as Edgar tried to jockey him forward early in the race, a slight asynchrony that ultimately put undue forces on the right hind ankle resulting in the horse's breakdown."

He continued: "The breakout cannot be eliminated as a causal effect in my opinion, and although it may have been coincidental, that is unlikely. But you can imagine the politics of such a veterinary scratch with the Triple Crown at stake, taking the favorite out of the race. The veterinarian's hands were tied, and he/she was by and large prevented from taking the horse out."
Well, it’s not that unusual to see horses break through the gate and then reload and race. So he’s really saying that any horse that breaks through the gate should be scratched due to a risk of overcompensating for some likely tweak caused by the act of exerting enough force to open the gate. Seems like a reasonable idea (though I’d be interested to see some statistics supporting his idea – exactly how many horses that break through the gate end up breaking down during the race?), and something concrete that the industry can point to and show that it has learned something from the Preakness. It would likely come to be known as the Barbaro rule.

- Trainer David Donk took the 4th at Belmont on the grass with Tiverton in the gelding’s first race since November. Last week, he sent out Fishy Advice to win on turf off of a similar layoff, and did the same with Peg’s Prayer earlier this month.


Nick said...

A vet from Montana? Montana, the hotbed of thoroughbred racing. Everyday of the week horses break thru the gate and are reloaded and race just fine. As bettors, we all know this, we see it all the time. Hindsight is really a cheap shot in this case. Horses will breakdown suddenly. Fact of life. This may be a harsh statement,but people seem to forget, that if it wasnt for racing, these horse wouldnt even be alive. Racing horses was a big part of my life for a lot of years. I loved my horses, gave them the absolute best care I could, protected them as best I could. But horses breaking down on the racetrack is like driving your car, if you do it long enough, chances are you will have an accident.

Anonymous said...

From my observation, it is seems far more likely that a horse that breaks through the gate eventually wins the race as opposed to being pulled up with injury.

Anonymous said...

The times is obviously anti-racing, end of story. To give more weight to the opinion of a Montana vet over the opinion of the on site track vet is absurd, and unfortunately consistant with the sloppy reporting that passes for journalism in this once fine paper of record. Wonder how many vets they called before they finally found one willing to go public with the opinion they needed for the story?

alan said...

I read this morning that High Finance, the West Point Thoroughbreds colt that may run in the Belmont, broke throught the gate before his last win.

Bill Finley wrote this particular Times piece, and he's certainly not anti-racing. He presented a wide range of opinions, including that of the vet from Montana, who, according to Finley, emailed him with the comment. I didn't pick that one out to imply that this was the tone of the whole article; but only because it was really the only opinion in the article that I haven't read and/or commented on before. Perhaps I should have included the closing paragraphs:

>>>>>[Pimlico vet Dr. David] Zipf [who examined Barbaro before he was reloaded] said he had heard that theory [the Montana vet theory] and many others. He said he also heard that he was ordered before the Preakness by NBC to make sure the race went off on time and that the requirement prevented him from giving Barbaro a lengthy examination.

He said he believed that he did everything professionally and correctly before the race and dismissed the speculation as "wild rumor and innuendo." He added: "The incident before the start had absolutely nothing to do with this horse breaking down. That's all there is to it.">>>>>

Anonymous said...

I looked back through the Belmont charts since the start of this spring meet (May 4). I found three horses in the Equibase charts whose comments read "broke through gate." They finished first, first and fourth. It was a cursory look-through, not comprehensive. If any were scratched following a break-through, I'm not sure how that would appear on the chart. I think all late scratches appear as just that - a late scratch. I would be curious if anyone else has perused charts for toher tracks looking for the same thing?

Anonymous said...

I'm Sorry! I clicked "publish" instead of "preview."
At NYRA tracks in May - horses that broke through the gate: first, fourth and ninth.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for my earlier comment trashing the Times, I myself am guilty of shoddy journalism for commenting negatively about the paper relying solely on your synopsis. Should have read the article, it was fair and balanced.

Twba said...

Lou Raffetto Jr., the president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, which runs Pimlico, told the Philadelphia Daily News his theory on how Barbaro was injured.

After reviewing video of the race, Raffetto believes that, about 200 yards into the race, Brother Derek's right front leg hit Barbaro's right hind leg, which could have caused the Kentucky Derby winner's injuries.

"If you see the tape, you'll see just before they come to the shadow of the building, and I have some stills too that show this, let's say [Barbaro] is in the three path, he's inside of Sweetnorthernsaint," Raffetto told the Daily News on Monday. "Within like two jumps, [Barbaro] is right behind Sweetnorthernsaint. And you can see this on the head-on ...

"Simultaneously, as he moves behind Sweetnorthernsaint, Brother Derek is catching up to the field. And it appears as Barbaro drifts, Brother Derek strides out with his right front just as Barbaro extends his right hind.

"The way we know this is in the footage and we looked at it frame by frame, you can see just as they appear to make contact where there is the full extension, Barbaro's head goes up in the air. At the same time [Brother Derek's jockey Alex] Solis, you see his right shoulder go out. He's pulling him off. The still I have shows [Solis] doing it ...

"It appears [Brother Derek] hit [Barbaro's] right hind as he was probably planting it. Instead of just planting it normally, it forced him to twist."

Raffetto's theory is that the twist caused Barbaro's injury.

"It's a timing thing," Raffetto told the Daily News. "It's incredible that it should happen like that. But that's what appears to have happened. I'm saying it with about 80 percent certainty. I don't think you'll ever know for 100 percent."