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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

OWNERS - do you know where your day rate money goes? (Updated)

This is an article we originally wrote many years ago, and try to keep updated every few years, detailing the costs of owning a racehorse in training at the track.

We just updated the numbers through 2015, read the full text at

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Where do trainers get all the stuff they need for the stable?

I haven't written anything lately because I've been busy working at the track - in the stable as groom, hotwalker, barn foreman, and frankly - equipment manager.  There is so much stuff you need to run a racing stable, and it's used hard so some things wear out amazingly fast. A university student just asked me where we get all our "stuff" as part of her marketing study, and here's what I said, probably more than she wanted to know, and I could elaborate a lot more!

"Hi Raquel!  You specified “blankets, saddle pads, bandages, hoods” – by hoods I assume you mean blinkers.  We buy most of our stable supplies from unless we need something that’s so heavy the shipping cost will be too high. 
For heavy things like rakes, forks, wheelbarrows, fans: we go to Home Depot or Lowes. 
For heavy things like buckets of poultice, powdered or liquid supplements, we go to the local tack shop – most racetracks have a vendor for these items on site or near the stable area.  Sometimes it’s the feed company located on the racetrack property or close by.

challenge is the stuff that race trainers need to be color specific to match the stable colors and/or logo – we need stall webbings in the stable colors which usually have to be ordered and they are very heavy.  The saddle pads with logo have to be specially ordered.  Usually the on-track tack shop can get these things at the best price." 
I would just add that getting saddle pads with logo and signage is fairly challenging.  The people around who provide these services specific to the horse and racing industry seem to be few and far between.   I'd like recommendations! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Good article from New South Wales - It's educational and interesting to read racing coverage from Australia, showing how truly global our sport is and how much we have in common with racing around the world.  Some of the Aussie racing expressions are quite unique!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Some horses are born to be at the track.

Great story about a retired thoroughbred racehorse who is most suited to sticking around the racetrack rather than starting a new career.  Most thoroughbreds do like to have a job.  Most of them don't like hanging around the pasture 24-7.  Read more >>

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to train your young horse without setbacks due to injury

Denny Emerson shared this article on Facebook. It's about training for endurance competition but also very much applies to starting young throughbreds for racing or bringing back older thoroughbreds after a long layoff. A valuable read for all trainers:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The job of a thoroughbred trainer is this.

Occasionally the frog of a horse's hoof will shed, exposing healthy but sensitive tissue underneath. If it happens a day or two before a race, the sensitivity can be enough to interfere with a horse's race performance.

Listen to what Jere Smith Jr. did when this happened to a horse he had entered to run, as he remembers the situation from many years ago.

Hear this interview at and please read the comments after, which follow up some questions that came out of this interview.

Monday, June 16, 2014

I answered this question on Quora, "How is strategy used in horse racing?"

Posted on Quora, a really interesting forum on all subjects.

"How is strategy used in horse racing?"

As soon as the entries for a race are set and available, the trainers, owners, jockey agents, and the more detail minded jockeys are handicapping the race to determine strategy by examining the past races of each horse in the race. Post position is huge because a horse that usually gets out of the gate early and likes to be close to the front of the race early can get cut off and boxed in. A heavy favorite will be targeted by all the riders who will try to keep him behind horses, down inside or far outside. A heavy favorite that has an outside post position and doesn't need to be on the lead early is very dangerous and more likely to win. The strategy for such a horse is to take his time, ease up slowly and try to get position to make a clear run to the finish. By race day, everyone involved with the horses has mapped out how they expect the race to go and where each horse will be in the race at all times. In the paddock before the race, the trainer, owner and jockey will have a short pow-wow to discuss how they think the race will play out and what the jockey's strategy should be. Despite all this, the best laid plans often go awry and the jockey then needs to fly by the seat of his pants to try to win or at least finish strong.

Long term strategy is also important. Good trainers plan a horse's races carefully, picking out a race to aim for and training up to the race to hopefully have the horse in peak condition on the day of the race. Entering a horse in the right type of race is also crucial because each horse is competitive at a certain level. Most horses are only competitive at a certain distance (short, middle or long) and on a certain surface (turf, dirt or artificial). It's difficult to find the perfect race to fit a horse at exactly the right time he is ready for a race but it's the trainer's job to do that.

Trainers often lobby the racing office to try to make sure an appropriate race will be available for a horse that needs a certain type of race. Trainers have a book from the racing office that lists each race that will be held on each day of the racing meet, but the racing office also adds races to those available in the book in order to maximize the possibility of having a lot of horses in each race. The races that have the most entries for a day will be the ones that actually are run. If less than 6 horses enter a race, the office usually does not use that race and the trainers who entered will have to pick another race to enter. Thus trainers have to be in constant planning and strategy mode in order to find the right race for a horse at the right time.