Saturday, March 22, 2014

At the Aiken Steeplechase Meet

A few pictures from the Aiken Steeplechase meet. Marq Your Bible ran in a maiden special weight. He ran two miles and finished fourth.  For a first time over jumps, we are pleased. If nothing else, he was the most handsome horse as he got the "best turned out horse" award!

I will say also that the people at the meet were awesome. It was a great experience all around.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

PETA "Investigative" Video

If you haven't already already heard, PETA has released a heavily edited video that accuses trainer Steve Asmussen and his assistant of ill treatment of some of his horses. The video come via an undercover investigation. Of course the video comes out now, and to lay people, its the most SHOCKING THING EVER.

If I understand correctly, the accusations made are A) Steve Asmussen's team allowed a sore horse to race that led to him colic that led to his death; (His team cusses alot! *OH MY!*) B) a jockey was given an electric shock whip and C) Barn workers are illegal aliens making less tha minimum wage (implying slavery exists in horse racing). And who better to adequately inform the public of these accusations? Why the New York Times horse racing "reporter" Joe Drape of course! Before we go through the accusation, it should be said that Mr. Drape does not attempt to question the charges himself. Every one of PETA's accusations is taken at face value. It is unclear who he works for: one of the world's great newspapers or an organization that kills dogs and cats on purpose to make a point about shelters.

But lets work backwards- the workers making less than minimum wage: believe or not that's normal for all agribusiness, which is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. This why there is such a demand for migrant workers. No American citizen is going to pick strawberries at $6/hour. Is it right? No. But Mr. Drape does attempt to educate people on this fact? No.

The electric shock whip issue-I am dismissing this out of hand. It has been proven time and time again that electric whips do not make a horse run faster. Again does Mr. Drape educate people about this? No.

The horse running on a sore hoof and being over medicated-The only thing Mr. Drape does is refer to a horribly written article he published in 2012 about drug use in horse racing. Now that horse racing has severely curtailed drug use (see Mid-Atlantic Uniform Drug rules) does Mr. Drape report this? Of course not.

Here is another quote taken at total face value, from PETA's press release: "Nehro was a magnificent horse. He came in second in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, but what race enthusiasts and reporters never knew was that just a few years later, Nehro was racing and training on chronically painful hooves with holes in them. One of the hooves was, at one point, held together with superglue. Nehro's assistant trainer, Blasi, told PETA's investigator, "I know the f***** hurts"―yet Nehro was kept on the track and forced to participate in workouts. Just two years after that Derby finish, Nehro developed colic and went mad from pain. He was euthanized at Churchill Downs on the day of the 2013 Kentucky Derby."

Since when does colic occur because of hoof discomfort? The two issues are completely separate. And guess what, if a horse get an impaction colic, putting him down is THE ONLY THING YOU CAN DO. Does Mr. Drape explain in his article? No.

Ironically, I am not mad at PETA. They are just doing what they think is their job. If Mr. Asmussen is abusing his horses, he needs to be thrown out of the business the way Richard Dutrow and Patrick Beicone were and I will applauded PETA for it. At the end of PETA's article about the video, they ask people to support the Horse Racing Safety and Integrity Act. I agree. Of course then they go and demand a boycott of horse racing. Whatever, now you lost me. That helps no one, including the horses.

However, my anger is at Mr. Drape and his 100% acceptance of the video and his 100% damnation of the whole industry as a result.

The only people dumber than Drape are the comments I am reading on that accompany the article. "I AM NEVER GOING TO ANOTHER HORSE RACE AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!" Never went in the first place I image.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Marq Your Bible's 2014 Campaign Begins This Saturday!

We are beginning the 2014 racing campaign much differently than we have in previous years. Marq Your Bible has been training as a steeplechase horse for the last few months and first test is this Saturday in Aiken, South Carolina. We are quite excited.

Steeplechase meets are a whole lot different than flat racing. It is still thoroughbred horse racing. Except, A) the horse has to go two miles at a minimum (some races are three); B) over jumps; C) carry twenty to thirty pounds more than he would during a flat race; and D) WITHOUT LASIX (not a rule, but look at the entry chart below. Most horses, including ours, are not on lasix.)

Keep all this mind during the Triple Crown season. Steeplechase shows what a thoroughbred can do (and did) if trained properly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Colonial Downs to install new statue in honor of Virginia horsemen

Yeah the meeting went that well. Last ditch effort to salvage something is this Monday at 10 am at a VRC meeting (at colonial downs backstretch).

In all seriousness, Colonial refused to bargain in good faith. They came into the meeting with an already ridiculous proposal of twelve days of racing. They doubled down, stating six day/$500,000 per day purse at the mediation. $3 million, sounds like alot of money to be walking away from, right? Wrong.

Here is the problem with six or twelve days. Lets say our horse, Marq Your Bible, a certified Virginia-bred horse is ready to race. Guess what? Under a six/twelve day meet, he will get to race once and what if he flops as horses tend to do. He will need another race. For stakes horses this is not a problem, they race one or two stakes races at the meet and leave. For allowance and claiming horses like ours, frequency of racing is just as important as the purse itself. Hence, why the VHBA proposal of stretching out the number of days was important.

Now, we hear that Colonial is looking for scabs, another horseman's organization who will bow down to Ian Stewart (President of Colonial Downs) every demand.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Colonial Downs and VHBPA Heading for Meditation

So has to come to this. The Virginia Racing Commission is telling (not asking) Colonial Downs and the VHBPA to submit their arguments to a professional mediator. This is the latest attempt to end the impasse on the number of racing days and amount of money to dished out each, that each side must agree to. There is no word on whether or not this mediation is binding or just another way talk things out. If it is binding, the horsemen are going to get screwed.

Here is Colonial's argument in a nutshell: we are losing too much money horsemen and we want you to pay, among other things, for cleaning up your horseshit (no, really, manure removal is one of the things they want horseman to pay for).

The argument that Colonial is losing money therefore they need to change the business model is an old, old, old sports owner's arguments. Given that Colonial is owned by a privately-held company, they do not have to open up their books to show how much money they are loosing. NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball clubs do this all the time when negotiating collective barraging agreements with their players' union or when they claim they need a new stadium and want the public to pay for it. They whine about their loses, when in actually they are making money hand over fist. Its only when you take deprecation into account that their balance sheet looks bad.

So Colonial, in my opinion, is doing the same thing. They of course, attempted to put public pressure on the horsemen by shutting down the OTBs in the western part of the state, stating we were to blame. Now they are saying their balance sheet is worse. Why? Because of the OTBs shut down out west.

There is one thing about racing in the Mid-Atlantic that Colonial management should remember. We can take our horses elsewhere. There are six tracks within driving distance. In our case, we have decided to prepare for the worse. Marq Your Bible is currently in South Carolina training to be a steeplechase horse.