Lanerie Sweeps Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes With Tobacco Road, Serengeti Empress

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Tobacco Road and Corey Lanerie win the Ellis Park Juvenile

Corey Lanerie swept Ellis Park’s pair of 2-year-old stakes but in completely different fashion Sunday: Serengeti Empress led all the way to an electrifying 13 1/2-length blowout over the late-running Include Edition in the $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante. A race later, Tobacco Road wore down stablemate Whiskey Echo to take the $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile by three-quarters of a length.

Lanerie won four races out of five mounts on the card to take the lead — 24-22 over Shaun Bridgmohan — in the jockey standings for the first time this meet, for which he missed the first six days following the death of his wife, Shantel.

“When I came back here, I didn’t know how well I would do after Shantel’s passing, just if people would give me back my mounts right away,” Lanerie said. “It’s been a blessing. I took off where I left, kind of kept on winning. My business didn’t seem to linger at all. Once I saw I had a little chance, I kind of made it a goal to try to do it and be leading rider for Shantel.”

Trainer Tom Amoss loved Serengeti Empress even before the 2-year-old filly won her first start by 5 1/2 lengths July 4 at Indiana Grand. He was extremely disappointed when the daughter of Alternation was fourth in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Schuylerville, a race in which Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano dropped the whip turning for home.

“We classified her as one of the best in the barn,” Amoss said by phone from New York after Serengeti Empress’ 13 1/2-length laugher over the late-running Include Edition in the $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante. “A big disappointment at Saratoga when Castellano dropped the stick on her and just quit riding her. I’ve never figured out what went wrong in that race. But she came back to show what she was today.”

Serengeti Empress rolled through testing fractions of 22.21 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 45.29 for the half and 1:09.66 for three-quarters of a mile before finishing the seven furlongs in 1:22.29. She paid $4.80 as the 7-5 favorite in the field of 11 two-year-old fillies.

“My filly broke really well right from the gate,” Lanerie said. “She was in hand pretty much all the way around there. When I got to the quarter pole, I kind of pushed the button and she went on and finished all the way to the wire. I had plenty left on the gallop-out. She was so far in front by herself that I think she was getting a little lost. I was keeping her busy. But she didn’t need any encouragement today. She was going to win.

“The sky’s the limit, I think. Tom has done a fantastic job with her, him and his team. I’m sure he’ll get her as far as he can go and do his best. She’s a good one.”

Vickie Foley, trainer of Alexis Harthill’s Include Edition, said she was “loving it,” seeing the fast pace. “But that filly didn’t come back at all,” she said wistfully. “She’s a runner.”

Include Edition trailed the field for half the race, having to come six-wide on the turn. She took second by 1 1/2 lengths over 107-1 shot Lucky Girasol, who won a $16,000 maiden-claiming race at Ellis Park July 29.

Said James Graham, rider Include Edition, who came from well back to win her debut July 15 at Ellis Park: “She tries. She’s just not that quick early. Like in her first race, you say, ‘Oh yeah, maybe a little green and stuff.’ Sent her away a little bit, couldn’t keep up. I tucked in, saved a little ground, made a huge run around the turn. I passed everybody and I looked up and Corey’s 15 in front!

“I think she’ll be better at two turns, and she’s in the growing stage. I like her, I like what she might be able to become. She got a little bit of an education. They were so bunched up in turn and said, ‘OK, I can’t wait and try to go on and hope to kick home.’ Because she’s not quick, she’s just steady. She ran her race, tried her butt off.”

Amoss bought Serengeti Empress for $70,000 for Joel Politi of Columbus, Ohio, at Keeneland’s 2017 September yearling sale. He said the filly will return to his Churchill Downs base and could be pointed for that track’s Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes, whose winner gets an automatic berth and entry fees paid in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2, also at the Louisville track.

Asked what he liked about Serengeti Empress before she ran, Amoss said, “
“Super intelligent. Went through all of her drills without blinking an eye. I mean, every time we challenged her she was up to it. So when we made her first start with her, it was more because that’s where the maiden race (at Indiana Grand) appeared at that time. We wanted to go to Saratoga, which we kind of pushed that issue together because they were close together. Just happened to have a maiden race at Indiana Grand as opposed to Ellis, so that’s where we ended up.”

Rounding out the field were Shanghai Rain, Somewhere, Profound Legacy, Kristizar, Bivian B, Spice It Up, Wakeeta and La Coyota.

Corey Lanerie completed his sweep of the stakes by guiding Tobacco Road from eighth to a three-quarters of a length triumph over Whiskey Echo in the $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile, with Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen training both horses. Manny Wah finished another head back in third in the field of 10 two-year-old colts and geldings.

“He had a completely different trip from the filly,” Lanerie said, referring to Serengeti Empress’ front-running 13 1/2-length romp over Include Edition in the $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante a race earlier. “He doesn’t have as much speed as she did. He broke really good, and then the speed just kind of ran away from him. I had to kind of keep him busy the first quarter of a mile. Once he found his stride around the turn, from the three-eighths to the quarter pole, I could tell I had a lot of horse. It was just trying to time it right and get him to the front at the right time.

“Actually at the quarter pole, I thought I had the two in front of me with ease. I hadn’t really asked my horse. I didn’t think the two in front, that they had that much. When I got to his (Whiskey Echo’s) hip, he proved me wrong. I got a little worried at the eighth pole. And then by the sixteenth pole I was kind of taking control and getting away from them.”

After three races, Tobacco Road has followed the identical path as Lookin At Lee, the 2017 Kentucky Derby runner-up ridden by Lanerie. Both horses are trained by Asmussen and owned by Lee Levinson’s L and N Racing. Both horses finished fifth at Churchill Downs in their first start, won at Ellis in their second and took the Ellis Park Juvenile in their third. Tobacco Road just now needs to run out $1.1 million and be at least second in a Triple Crown race to keep up the comparisons.

“It was a good day,” Levinson said by phone from Tulsa. “The comparisons continue. The best part was how he finished, because he was pulling away at the end. Boy, can you imagine at a distance? You never know but, boy, he sure looks like he’s got distance, doesn’t he?

“… When he came around the turn, you could just see him coming. He was catching them with every stride. We were pretty excited. We thought we had a great chance. But you never know, watching those races. How many times have you watched and they’re coming up like gangbusters and just stop?”

Mitch Dennison, Asmussen’s assistant trainer at Ellis Park, has had Tobacco Road in his care all summer and said the winner was showing a lot in his timed workouts in company.

“He’s very competitive and he always just has his ears up, is very happy and has kept very good weight,” he said.

Though the early pace (22.47, 45.66) was similar to what Serengeti Empress set in the Debutante, the boys finished much slower, with Tobacco Road wrapping up the seven furlongs in 1:23.99. after the six furlongs slowed down to 1:11.02. But there also was more competition for the lead, with Manny Wah and Whiskey Echo right up on the pace battling long shot S S. Trooper.

Whiskey Echo, the program favorite who went off second choice behind Tobacco Road, won his first start at Belmont Park and then was third in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Sanford Stakes. Asmussen said by phone that both colts will go to Churchill Downs and be considered for that track’s Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois, whose winner receives an automatic berth and entry fees paid to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 2 at the same track.

“They’re both really nice colts, obviously,” Asmussen said. “We felt good about our chances going in. Whiskey Echo off the third in the Sanford, I thought this was the perfect spot for him. And then when Tobacco Road ran so well there a couple of weeks ago, it was obvious to run him back at Ellis. But both colts ran well and handled more ground, and that’s kind of what it’s all about right now.”

Said Shaun Bridgmohan, rider of runner-up Whiskey Echo: “The horse tried really hard. He gave me what he had. The winner came on the outside and got us all. But me and Channing (Hill, on Manny Wah) were running right along. The winner just outgamed us today.”

Overanalyzer finished fourth, followed by Mine Inspector, S S Trooper, Shanghaied Roo, Pradar, Lady’s Weekend and Veritas.

Lapsed Law Shuts Down Racing, Simulcasting In Massachusetts

by | 08.01.2018

Simulcasting and live horse racing in Massachusetts have been shut down – temporarily, officials hope – after enabling legislation expired on July 31, according to published reports.

A bill that would have renewed legalized wagering on live and simulcast races was never enacted before lawmakers went home Aug. 1. The bill passed the Senate and House but dit not receive a required procedural vote, according to reports.

Suffolk Downs in East Boston announced on Twitter it was not able to open for simulcasting on Wednesday. The track had scheduled live racing for this weekend.
“It looks like hundreds of peoples’ jobs fell victim to the clock here,” Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, told WGBH public radio on Wednesday morning. “We’ll get up in the morning, notify our employees and look at our options but they seem pretty dire for now. We literally have hundreds of people and hundreds of horses scheduled to ship in for the weekend for live racing.”

Tuttle told WGBH he is hopeful lawmakers will address the issue during what is anticipated to be a lightly attended informal session on Thursday.

Ask Your Veterinarian: How Much Does Environment Influence OCD Lesions?

by | 07.09.2018 | 2:38pm

Question: What do we know about environmental factors that could make a horse more or less likely to get OCD?

Answer: Osteochondrosis (OC) is widely understood to be a disturbance of endochondral ossification (the formation of bone from cartilage) and is arguably one of the most clinically relevant developmental orthopedic diseases in the equine patient. Although it was once thought that OC lesions were static, sequential radiographic studies on foals, weanlings, and yearlings revealed that the characteristic lesions of OC could increase in size or completely regress (“heal”) up to 12 months of age. The timeline of this lesion formation and regression is different for each joint, and has supported the idea that there are number of environmental factors, in addition to genetics, that play a role in the progression of osteochondrosis.

Although no definitive cause of osteochondrosis has been determined, factors such as nutrition and exercise have been shown to play a role in the development and progression of OC lesions. Of these possible etiologies, the role of nutrition has been most closely investigated. Initial research into the effect of diet on OC focused largely on dietary energy level, usually in relation to a high growth rate.  Although the results of many of these studies seem to be conflicting, many support the conclusion that high growth rate (a combination of genetics and diet) is associated with an increase in the severity of OC lesions. It is important to note, however, that this is a combined effect: decreasing nutritional plane below maintenance levels will not decrease the incidence or severity of OC lesions and can lead to other dietary imbalances.

Studies investigating the role of trace elements (copper, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus) have determined that low copper levels (which can be induced by increased zinc) are linked to decreased resolution of OC lesions, and copper supplementation, to a certain extent, was able to reduce the severity of cartilage lesions. Investigations into the role of calcium and phosphorus in OC have determined that high calcium diets failed to produce OC lesions, whereas high phosphorus diets (five times NRC) reliably produced lesions in foals.

The role of exercise in the formation of OC lesions seems intuitive; it is well known that exercise is vital to the formation of a functional articular cartilage surface and OC is a developmental defect in articular cartilage. Investigations into the exact role of exercise in OC however, have yielded conflicting results.  In some studies, increased exercise was correlated with decreased incidence in OC, whereas other research was unable to find decreased incidence in OC lesions with exercised horses but did notice a decrease in severity of existing lesions. As with nutrition, it is clear that although exercise can play a supporting role in decreasing the incidence or severity of OC, no single factor is responsible for the course of the disease.

Since the process of cartilage metabolism and bone formation is highly dynamic, especially during the first year of age, it is widely thought that there are certain periods of times (“windows of susceptibility”) during which environmental factors can play a pivotal role in the severity of OC lesions. Research investigating these developmental periods, as well as the exact pathogenesis of osteochondrosis, will yield more answers and recommendations in the future.

Bloodlines: Changing Times For Infertility Insurance On Regional Sires

by | 07.03.2018 | 8:57am

Stallion farms based outside of Kentucky will no longer easily be able to purchase first-year infertility insurance on stallion prospects that are “lesser-priced horses,” according to well-placed sources with connections to the insurance agencies and stallion operations.

Although not something that’s obvious to the general public, insurance against infertility is one of the nearly invisible layers of business that allows the great bloodstock machine to work smoothly year after year by protecting the investment and confidence of stallion operations and their syndicate members.

First-year infertility insurance is a policy written to protect a farm or buyer “in case you’ve syndicated a horse for major money that somehow has a congenital problem,” said Lynn Jones of Equus / Standarbred Station insurance. “These policies are written so that if a stallion isn’t able to get 60 percent of his mares in foal, then the farm or syndicate isn’t left holding the bag.”

Instead, by going through an insurance agent and underwriter, stallion buyers spread the risk of loss from that inevitability: the subfertile or infertile stallion. To arrange for a policy, Jones said, “You want a qualified vet to do the initial examination. They will measure the testicles, run a blood test, and the result is a huge protection device. But you can’t collect him or have a semen evaluation. Everyone goes in blindfolded, so to speak. It’s so commonplace that it’s now a built-in cost of the acquisition.”

The principal underwriters of insurance policies for horses, whether for accidental death (AD&D) or first-year infertility, are Lloyd’s of London, Great American, and NAS Swiss Re. These are giant international risk underwriters that back the insurance policies that local and national agents sell to farms or individuals.

One agent in Central Kentucky who preferred not to be named said that “Horse insurance, as a percentage of their equity underwriting, doesn’t amount to a rounding error to these major underwriters. But they perceive an elevated risk in regional markets relative to Kentucky and are being more selective.”

None of the selectivity applies to stallion operations in Kentucky because “we can be a little bit spoiled by the horse market and general environment here in the Bluegrass,” one agent said. “This is the epicenter of the stallion market. In regional markets, you can find variation in horsemanship – both in stallion and mare management, as well as in the availability of world-class veterinary facilities and specialists.”

As a result of this change of availability for first-year stallion fertility insurance, some regional breeders will have to make hard decisions about adding stallions to their rosters.

One regional breeder already has collided with this unexpected situation. He said, “Late last year, I bought a stallion prospect off the racetrack, called my Kentucky agent to get a quote for infertility insurance, and was told – eventually – that they had found an underwriter to cover it, but the rate was more than double what I would have paid the previous year.”

A well-known Kentucky agent said “it is likely to be more difficult for farms to insure stallions in the regional programs, but we can still get deals done. They might be more expensive, however, but if underwriters get a run of several years that do not generate claims, then they might change their views.”

One option for farms is to self insure, which essentially means to play the odds that your horse will have normal fertility. And Mark Toothaker of Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky said, “Spendthrift doesn’t insure any of its stallions against fertility loss. We don’t have a single horse on the farm insured. So far, we haven’t had a loss.”

And, despite the reluctance among some underwriters, there will be other underwriters available to service those who want to insure for first-year infertility, according to Jones.

He said, “We’ve been doing this since 1980, and, no matter the individual situation, there are underwriters you’ve been working with will take the time to write a policy for that animal.”

The policy just may cost something more.

This is one more dampening effect on the overall stallion market, which is none too robust outside the Bluegrass. Now, it has one more inefficiency to deal with.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

Hernandez: Lanerie’s Presentation Of Churchill Leading Rider Trophy ‘Really Special’

by | 07.01.2018 | 7:26pm

Corey Lanerie presents the leading rider trophy to his friend, Brian Hernandez

Brian Hernandez Jr., winner of the 2012 Ellis Park riding crown, didn’t waste any time taking the first steps toward potentially another riding title, winning Sunday’s second race aboard Menacing on opening day of Ellis’ 2018 meet.

The Louisiana native was at Ellis the day after wrapping up his first riding title at Churchill Downs in his adopted hometown of Louisville, 43 wins to 38 for runner-up Florent Geroux. But the sheer joy that the accomplishment should have brought was countered by the anguish when the tight title tilt with his close friend and 15-time Churchill riding champ Corey Lanerie ended with the sudden death of Lanerie’s wife, Shantel.

Lanerie, who won the last two Ellis Park jockey titles, hasn’t ridden since June 21, when Shantel, who was undergoing treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer, had emergency surgery after an infected colon led to sepsis and cardiac arrest. She died the next day.

“It was a bittersweet moment,” Hernandez, who held a 36-35 lead over Lanerie on June 21, said of winning the title. “As everyone knows, Corey Lanerie and I were close in the standings, and his wife fell ill the last nine days of the meet and she succumbed to it. Our heart goes out to their family. It’s bittersweet to be able to win the title. But I wish we’d had Shantel here with us.”

Lanerie and their 10-year-old daughter, Brittlyn, came to Churchill’s closing day Saturday to be part of the presentation for the meet’s leading jockey.

“That was really special,” said the 32-year-old Hernandez, who in 2004 won the Eclipse Award as America’s outstanding apprentice jockey and in 2012 captured the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Fort Larned. “That was one of the requests Corey asked of me, to go ahead and try to win the title in Shantel’s memory. Like he said, if he couldn’t do it, she’d have loved for me to go ahead and do it. It was really special for him and Brittlyn to come down and get in the winner’s circle presentation and photo. It was just a special family moment.”

Hernandez spent one summer riding at Saratoga’s elite in upstate New York before deciding it made more business sense to stay at home in Kentucky with wife Jamie and their two young kids, riding at Ellis and shipping out for stakes for his clientele as needed.

“Especially the last couple of years, the 2-year-old program at Ellis has really gotten strong,” Hernandez said. “This is a great place to get young horses going in the summertime, and the track is always in great shape.”

Hernandez won 13 races at the 2017 Ellis meet, good for sixth place, while missing a lot of days to ride in stakes out of state.

“That will kind of be the same deal this summer,” he said. “We do emphasize the stakes program, then try to go around the country to ride the better horses. That’s really what it’s all about. You want to be able to pick up better horses and keep moving forward with them.

“And that’s one reason we do come to Ellis, because we pick up some nice 2-year-olds to go with the rest of the year and beyond. It makes it nice because you can come here and ride and then go home at night and spend quality time with the family. And with racing here only three days a week, it’s almost like a little summer vacation.”

Fourteen Takeaways From The 2018 Jockey Club Welfare And Safety Summit

by | 06.27.2018 | 6:50pm

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation hosted its eighth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit June 27 at Keeneland, with speakers touching off on disaster preparedness, jockey safety, equine injury, and Thoroughbred aftercare.

Here are a few things I didn’t know before attending this year’s event:

  • Detail matters in disaster planning. Obviously, the San Luis Rey Downs tragedy and a pair of major hurricanes reiterated to everyone in the horse industry that wherever you keep horses, you need disaster plans. One thing people may not think about is the impact beyond the first hours following a hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood. Dr. Roberta Dwyer, extension veterinarian at the University of Kentucky, recalled a serious ice storm in Central Kentucky several years ago which left her farm property without power or vehicular access for a week.Some things you may not have thought of when making plans:
    -If you have well water, a loss of power also means a loss of water for your horses.
    -Your help may not be able to access the farm to look after horses.
    -Fencing or barns may be destroyed or unusable, and the longer access to your property is blocked, the longer it will take to get them fixed
    -Mass power outages will also mean that gas stations and ATMs will be non-functional
    -If you have more horses than trailer space and are forced to evacuate, you need to know which ones are going first and where you’re taking them.
  • An answer to an age-old question: Should horses be inside or out during a weather event? Dwyer said it depends on your barn, its location, and the type of weather that’s headed your way. If your barn is in a low-lying area and there’s a potential for flooding, the horses should be let out so they can seek shelter. If your barn is at the top of a windy hill and a storm system is coming, the barn may not be in the safest place for the horse. In the event of a tornado warning, Dwyer thinks flying debris is a big consideration and keeping horses inside may be the best way to protect them.
  • When it comes to weather at the track, change is a bigger problem than extremity. Horses, much like people, will gradually adjust to the temperature and humidity they’re exposed to. A panel made up of track managers and veterinarians agreed they’re more worried by significant changes in a short amount of time than they are warm or cold temperatures. Dr. Lynn Hovda, chief commission veterinarian for the Minnesota Racing Commission, noted Canterbury Park saw a change from two feet of snow to a high of 106 degrees in six weeks this season, along with significant humidity. That had her worried.Jeff Johnston, regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild said he is more worried by ice than snow. Track surfaces are usually fine during icy weather because they’re harrowed a lot, but pathways to and from the paddock may not be. Further, Johnston pointed out changes from thaw and freeze can impact dirt surfaces in ways fans don’t think about. Before Turfway put in a synthetic surface, Johnston recalled overnight refreezing would tighten the dirt, but in the midafternoon on a weekend card, the ground would have thawed but not dried and the surface became loose and unsafe. This sometimes prompted race cancellations which the general public found difficult to understand.
  • The Equine Injury Database is starting to look at non-fatal injuries, and the results are pretty interesting so far. We knew that a horse’s appearance on a veterinarian’s list was an increased risk for fatal injury, but of course it also elevates the risk a horse will have a non-fatal injury. This does not seem to multiply with the number of separate instances a horse may have been placed on the list, but it also doesn’t ever go back down to normal again after the horse has been flagged once. Horses who have been on the list once have a 115 percent higher risk for fatal breakdown and a 79 percent higher risk for non-fatal fracture than horses who haven’t been flagged.Track-by-track data has also shown there’s variability in risk patterns post-veterinarian’s list depending on location – and obviously, regulatory body. When a horse comes off the list and is allowed to run, some locations saw the horse’s risk spike higher/spike longer than others.
  • …However, we need much, much more complete reporting before the database can provide us helpful guidelines to reduce risk. Parkin estimates he’s only getting about 25 percent of all non-fatal injuries that happen, between injuries that happen during training or incomplete reporting of injuries during the race day. There’s also a lot of injury risk we still don’t have a statistical explanation for, and more complete data could help fill in some gaps.
  • The private nature of veterinary records could be part of the issue – for Parkin, and for horses. Of course, it would be easier for Parkin to identify trends in horses’ history if he knew what they were being treated with and when. But veterinary records legally belong to the owner of the horse at the time a record was created, and aren’t required to be disclosed to subsequent owners, Parkin, or state officials (with a few limited exceptions). Parkin suspects it’s no accident then, that a horse’s risk of fatal injury is 28 percent higher in its first start with a new trainer than it was the last time it started. Part of that could be the trainer’s lack of familiarity with the horse, but part of it may be that he’s in the dark about what the horse has experienced medically.
  • In case you needed more evidence, bringing a horse back after an injury may not be worth it if the horse is running at the lower levels. That’s because, according to Parkin’s data, they’re probably going to be starting for a purse that’s 20 percent lower than what they were running for before injury. If you’re already running a cheap horse, you have to ask whether it’s worthwhile. Among horses who suffered a non-fatal injury, only 46 percent raced again; those who did had a fatal breakdown rate of 3.1 percent – significantly higher than the .18 percent through the rest of the population.
  • Microchipping can help with more than verifying identity at saddling time. Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, noted that microchips can put a halt to abuse of shockwave therapy – if used correctly. The temporary analgesia produced by shockwave makes it a temptation for trainers to haul horses off-site to apply the therapy close to race time, then come back in. Prevailing wisdom suggests they may lie to the security attendant at the stable gate about the identity of the horse in the trailer (if they are asked for an identity at all) to evade suspicion. Guilfoil expects stable gate attendants can scan microchips to create a digital record of when a horse came on and off the grounds.
  • “Putting an inexperienced jockey on an inexperienced horse is a recipe for disaster.” Peta Hitchens, research fellow in the equine orthopedic research group at the University of Melbourne, presented stats gathered from five years of data from the California Jockey Accident Database. She found an apprentice has a 50 percent higher risk for injury than a fully-licensed rider, and several additional factors could add more risk on top of that 50 percent increase, including: the rider also has less than 250 races to their name; the horse has had less than five starts; the race is a sprint; the race takes place on a dry, fast track. Unsurprisingly, fatal injuries to horses are risky for riders: 60 percent of fatal horse breakdowns were accompanied by a jockey injury.
  • We’ve known rider falls are expensive, but now we know how expensive. Jockey claims in the Finish Line Insurance Group, which protects California riders, averaged a staggering $103,000 each in cases of fatal horse breakdowns. Claims for the average exercise rider fall: $28,000 each.
  • Besides being an important welfare consideration, having a sports medicine physician to look after the jockey colony can reduce costs. Dr. Kelly Ryan, primary care sports medicine physician with MedStar Health, admits her services don’t come cheap. MedStar contracts with the Maryland Jockey Club to allow Ryan to provide sports medicine and general care to jockeys and backstretch workers in the state. She does baseline concussion testing for jockeys and clears them to ride after an injury, but she also treats horse bites and kicks, coordinates follow-up care after accidents, and helps provide sports psychology services when needed.Ryan hears often from people who admire Maryland’s system of providing experienced care to their riders, but who say those services are inaccessible in other areas. Not true, she says. There are sports medicine physicians available nearly everywhere, and if you can’t find one of those, an athletic trainer can serve as a consultant on- or off-site for riders. Athletic trainers in other sports are on the court or field to be the eyes and ears of sports medicine doctors to identify potential problems an athlete may be battling. They’re also a lot cheaper than sports medicine physicians. Another cost consideration: In her role, Ryan says she reduces workers’ compensation claims because she can treat a lot of on-the-job injuries in her office at the track.
  • We’ve heard it before, but the quality of emergency care for a jockey is greatly improved when you have someone skilled on– Ryan is not the person riding in the ambulance to a fallen jockey during a race, but she can act as a conduit.“When you go to the hospital and they have on the paperwork ‘Complaint: rider fell from horse,’ that’s a lot different from the way we saw them, coming off at 40 miles per hour,” said Ryan, who can describe whether and where the rider was stepped on, and how exactly they hit the ground.
  • Language is key when it comes to talking about OTTBs. Jen Roytz, executive director of the Retired Racehorse Project and writer of our Aftercare Spotlight series, revealed one of the biggest misconceptions she encounters when talking to people about off-track Thoroughbreds. “Often they will tell me, ‘Oh I rescued him from the track,’” she said. “I constantly have to, very politely, correct them and say, ‘Why do you feel that horse was rescued?’ When they start talking through it, they convince themselves it wasn’t really ‘rescued.’ The lay person, mainstream public, does not give enough credence to how well cared for these horses are.”
  • Turf racing may be gaining stretch in the American landscape, and that comes with surface concerns. Trainer Graham Motion mentioned that he loves a good turf horse, but anecdotally he has concerns about long-term wear and tear on a track. This theme came up again from surfaces expert Dr. Mick Peterson, who noted there’s no easy way to freshen a turf surface. A few options for tracks trying to figure this out – change the racing schedule to let grass grow at the appropriate season, create short turf-only meets to give courses elsewhere on a circuit a rest, and increase the width of turf tracks.

Can Bandages Cause Tendon Damage In Racehorses?

by | 06.11.2018 | 1:19pm

Many racehorses have their legs bandaged in an effort to reduce the chance of overreaching and injury when they are worked or exercised; many sport horses and those ridden for pleasure have their legs bandaged or wrapped by owners who believe they are providing support to equine legs. In horses that are not racing, the chance of injury from interference is much lower as they are not working at racing speeds.

British veterinarian Dr. Campbell Thompson of Nantwich Equine Vets is urging horse owners and riders to carefully consider if their horses should wear leg support while being ridden. The former vet of the British Olympic team, Thompson warns that horses’ legs can overheat if the horse is worked hard or if the weather is hot. This overheating can make horses susceptible to tendon damage in the legs that are wrapped, he says.

While open-front boots, like those worn by horses that jump, are not potentially harmful, bandages that completely encase the horse’s legs, like those used on racehorses, can cause overheating and potential for injury, Thompson said. Additionally, he does not feel that any wraps provide support for the horse’s limbs.

Read more at Horse & Hound

Report: Marlon St. Julien Improving, Has Feeling In Limbs

by | 05.24.2018 | 5:28pm

Marlon St. Julien

The Daily Racing Form reported Wednesday that injured rider Marlon St. Julien is showing signs of improvement following a serious spill over the weekend at Prairie Meadows. Marcus Hersh writes St. Julien has movement in his limbs and is able to communicate.

The jockey remains in intensive care after undergoing surgery to address a spinal injury from the fall. Doctors will know more about his prognosis after inflammation goes down.

St. Julien was aboard Carbaugh in the ninth race Saturday when the horse was interfered with and St. Julien fell off head first. The rider of 2,468 winners with earnings just shy of $47 million, St. Julien has won multiple graded stakes races over the course of his career.

Ask Your Veterinarian: What Heart Scans Can Tell You, And What They Can’t

by | 05.21.2018 | 6:34pm

Secretariat, who was known for having an abnormally large heart

QUESTION: Some buyers at the upper end of the auction market are now including heart scans as part of their pre-sale vetting process. What can these scans tell buyers, and what don’t they tell us?

ANSWER: Heart scans, also known as echocardiograms, are used to create ultrasonographic images of the heart. Echocardiography allows visualization of the entirety of the heart. This includes the cardiac walls and interventricular septum (composed of cardiac muscle), the valves and chambers within the heart, and the large vessels that carry blood to and away from the heart.  Ultrasound facilitates accurate measurement of these cardiac structures and can be performed at different phases of the cardiac cycle (such as systole and diastole). By examining the heart throughout the cardiac cycle, determination of cardiac function indicators can be made. Some of these indicators of cardiac function include stroke volume, cardiac output, fractional shortening, and end-diastolic volume.

Many of us are familiar with racehorses storied to have famously large hearts—Secretariat and Eclipse being two primary examples. It has been theorized that the successes of these two legendary horses can be credited to the size of this organ. And there is reason to conclude that this is the case. The left ventricle is the most muscular cardiac chamber and is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood coming directly from the lungs out through the aorta to be delivered to the rest of the body. In human athletes that are trained for either endurance or strength, there is evidence that thickening (hypertrophy) of the left ventricular wall can occur with training. This structural change can lead to increases in stroke volume and cardiac output, which ultimately enhance a person’s oxygen carrying capacity. Studies have also demonstrated that these structural changes can occur in equine athletes in response to training. Electrocardiography was used in the 1970s to demonstrate that increased cardiac size is related to enhanced athletic performance.

Heart scans have become an important component of the sales process. The veterinarians who perform these scans have measured a large number of equine hearts and have as such amassed a large database of information. This information can be used to make recommendations on both the athletic and breeding potential for a horse. Because much of this data is proprietary information, there is a paucity of recent peer-reviewed literature available on the subject. However, many who have pursued this purchasing strategy have encountered success in using it. It must be emphasized that evaluating the heart in isolation from the rest of the body is really just “one piece of the puzzle”. The athletic potential of a sales horse often includes analysis of other factors, including genetics and musculoskeletal conformation, before a recommendation is made.

The use of echocardiography in horses is not limited to assessing athletic potential. Echocardiography is a critical tool in evaluating a horse’s heart for cardiac pathology. When performed for this reason, a heart scan is typically completed by a cardiologist or internal medicine specialist. The aim of an echocardiographic examination in this scenario is to gather information that will allow for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Common indications for this type of heart scan include valvular leakage, stretching of the cardiac walls, and congenital defects. While any of these abnormalities can certainly affect athletic potential, they can also interfere with a horse’s longevity and even a horse’s safety to ride due to a potential for collapse. Just as in heart scans performed in a sales setting, the echocardiogram can be used by a specialist as “one piece of the puzzle”. Other diagnostic tools, such as physical examination, electrocardiography, and exercise testing, will aid a veterinarian in tracking progression of disease and formulation of a treatment plan.

Dr. Bill Gilsenan received his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. Following an internship at Colorado State University, he completed a residency in large animal internal medicine at the New Bolton Center—University of Pennsylvania. He became board certified in large animal internal medicine in 2012. He held a faculty position at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine until joining the staff at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital as an internal medicine specialist in 2015.

Marlon St. Julien Undergoes Spinal Surgery After Prairie Meadows Incident

by | 05.21.2018 | 2:32pm

Marlon St. Julien

Jockey Marlon St. Julien, 46, was involved in a serious spill on Saturday at Prairie Meadows, reports drf.com. In the ninth race, his mount Carbaugh was interfered with at the start and St. Julien went down hard.

“He went headfirst into the ground,” said his agent, Bobby Dean.

On Sunday, St. Julien underwent spinal surgery to fuse the C5 and C7 vertebrae, in an attempt to keep the pressure of his discs off his spinal cord. The rider was on a ventilator on Sunday, and his range of motion is under evaluation.

The rider of 2,468 winners with earnings just shy of $47 million, St. Julien has won multiple graded stakes races over the course of his career.

Read more at drf.com.