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Monday, March 28, 2005

Evangeline Breakdowns

- An article on tells of the positive numbers for the short quarter horse meet at the new Evangeline Downs facility, a prelude to the thoroughbred meet which opens on April 7. One thing that is striking is the impact of slots on purses there.

For instance, a $22,000 purse for a Louisiana-bred maiden special weight test includes $13,800 in slots revenue, according to the track condition book. An open maiden special weight event goes for $16,500, of which $10,200 will come from slots revenue. [Bloodhorse]
Louisiana has one of the lowest, if not the lowest tax rate on racetrack slots in the country.

One thing that’s not mentioned in this article about the 20-day meet, however, is this:
Four horses have suffered broken legs on the track and two others have been seriously injured since quarter horse racing began in February.
In just three weeks of racing (plus a day of trials in early February), the six injuries may seem like a lot considering Delta Downs has suffered 17 total horse injuries in its current thoroughbred season, which began back in October and ends in early April - a period of more than five months. The Fair Grounds' current season began in late November, and in a more than four-month span, there have been 20 injuries at the track. These numbers are from the state Racing Commission. [The Opelausus Daily World]
Track officials, while not pinpointing nor admitting to any particular problem, did call in experts and the track has been "leveled and re-leveled, and sand has been added.
"We didn't have one horse even pull up bad or break down or nothing," said B.B. Rayburn Jr., state steward for Evangeline Downs. [Daily Comet]

- Three of the SA Derby candidates worked out, and good thing nobody broke down or nothing. Sweet Catomine worked 5f in 59.60, and trainer Julio Canani was his usual restrained self. “She looked awesome.....She’s on target. We got more weight on her, and she just looked awesome. Also working were Giacomo and Don’t Get Mad, a horse quietly creeping higher on the Left at the Gate Derby list. He got a bullet half in :47 1/5 and trainer Ron Ellis got him galloping out "in 1:13 and change." And of his third in the San Felipe, Ellis said that “he just didn’t like the racetrack." [Thoroughbred Times] You know what...I am totally buying into this! I’ll tell you right now that he is my selection to run down the filly in the Santa Anita Derby. I know it’s one of the biggest mistakes one can make to assume that a horse that closes at 6 and 7 furlongs will automatically be that more dangerous when stretching out; but he did nothing in the San Felipe, on a "rock hard" track that Ellis says he won’t run Don’t Get Mad on if that's the case for the SA Derby, to give any indication that he’s not going to be one that will be closing strongly as the races get longer.

- Afleet Alex was scoped clean; his lung infection is gone, and so are any excuses for the Arkansas Derby. Or maybe not, since he’s obviously behind schedule in his preparation, and probably didn’t get much benefit from the Rebel. Trainer Tim Ritchey said he’ll have to work the colt harder to catch up:
"Say if he would have breezed six furlongs and tried to go in 1:13 or 1:14, now he'll probably breeze seven-eighths, and try to go in 1:22, 1:23, somewhere around there." [Daily Racing Form]
They're also nominating him for the Lexington and the Derby Trial just in case. As for Rocky, John Servis, says, for what seems like the hundredth time, that Rockport Harbor’s foot woes are now finally behind him now.
``Rocky had an opening in the hoof from the old injury,'' Servis said. ``It wasn't a quarter crack, but when the colt would step down, the hoof would shift. [Blacksmith] Ian [MacKinley] did his thing, and I think we've got it nipped in the bud.'' [Bloodhorse]
I hope so. The breakdowns at Evangeline are a reminder of how fragile these guys can be, and we're seeing a lot now about the pressure on these trainers to have their horses able to make important Derby preps. I can't imagine that rushing a horse that is just recovering from a lung infection and has been treated with antibiotics into a 7 furlong work in 1:22 could be the best thing for the colt; and Rockport Harbor is a horse who obviously suffered a significant injury when winning the Remsen, one which is taking far more time to fully heal than originally thought. Perhaps he just needs more time, but that is not an option at this point.