View Full Version : Dressage girl going to her first race...

Nov. 26, 2007, 12:23 PM
and I have no idea what to expect.

One of my very best friends has been dabbling in TB racing. He has a colt and a filly. The filly will be running her first race on Friday night at Delta Downs in Louisiana. The colt won't run his first race for a couple of weeks.

My friend doesn't really know much about the process and I know even less. He bought them as yearlings and has been paying a trainer in Ocala to raise and bring them along. The trainer is actually the ex husband of one of our COTH posters who rides dressage and she always speaks highly of him on the board.

Anyhow, I am going to try and leave behind how torn and sort of afraid I am about racing and support my friend and his filly. I am actually very excited for him. Four of us are going on a road trip...woo hoo! I guess Delta Downs is a casino and hotel as well.

So, I guess I am hoping for some input. What is a maiden race? I thought it was only for horses who have never raced before, but I've heard it can be horses that haven't won yet as well??? Is anybody familiar with this track and hotel? Will it be easy to blow time/eat etc? Is it bad or good luck to bet on my friend's horse? I'm thinking I shouldn't because I NEVER win anything! Can anybody tell me how to read a racing form and determine what the horses she is running against are like?

I'll take anything you guys have to offer!

By the way, this filly is HUGE! She is already over 17hh as a 2 yo, all legs, and very croup high. I'm so scared for her skinny legs but don't want to talk like that around my friend.

Nov. 26, 2007, 12:41 PM
A maiden race is for horses which have nver WON.
I've never been to Delta but hear that is a decent place. The casino gives it a bit of glitz. On the scale of tracks Delta is not exactly Saratoga or Keeneland but even lesser horses can and do put on a good show.

As for betting, go ahead and show your support with a small wager on your friend's horse. Try betting "across the board." That's a win, place and show bet. That way if the horse runs 1st, 2nd, or 3rd you get something back. How silly would you feel if you went all that way, the filly wins and you don't cash a ticket!!???

Explaining the Form is my job, but it's hard to do on line. Just remember, each line signifies a race. There is a page in the paper telling what the symbols mean. Before you go, post the what race she's in and I can pull it up online and interpret some of it for you.

As a dressage rider, I'm sure you are used to a very different type of horse from racehorses. The horses may look scrawny to you. Keep it quiet. I hear the same from h/j friends when they come to the track with me. Trust me, its a very different type of fitness. Football players an marathon runners are both athletes, but they don't look the same. (I don't mean to imply that you'll stare wide eyed and scream horse abuse, but I know it happens. We see it here on the BB, everytime a skinny TB arrives in a show barn!;))

If you have the chance, visit the barn area and see how much care and attention go into making a racehorse.

Have fun!! Pick the names you like and bet them. If the silks appeal to you, bet them! If you spot a cute jockey or groom, play that one. It's meant to be fun.

Nov. 26, 2007, 01:29 PM
Thank you Linny. I will post her race when I find out which one it is. I looked on Equibase (I think that was the website's name) and they only have the entries for Wednesday and Thursday.

Thanks for the reminder about the conditioning of a racehorse. I forgot about that, but I do still think they are beautiful athletes when I see them on tv, so I get it.

I found a picture I took of her about a year ago. I haven't seen her since then however.

Rosy (http://s91.photobucket.com/albums/k311/Slewpy/Frank/?action=view&current=IMGP1916.jpg)

Nov. 26, 2007, 01:40 PM
How to read a race card (http://www.ilovehorseracing.com/learn-how-to-read-a-race-card.html)

(mouse over the image and little explanations of each part of the card will pop up)


Nov. 26, 2007, 01:56 PM
Pretty filly, she's got legs like Betty Grable <--- old movie queen, pinup girl with great gams.

She looks cute, well balanced. Let me know when her race comes up.

Jessi P
Nov. 26, 2007, 02:09 PM
Another thing to remember is that these are athletes fit to within an inch of their lives, stalled 23 hours a day and are ready to RUN. Many are quiet but many are also temperamental. Many trainers choose to use a lipshank to keep the horse quiet before going onto the racetrack. It is NOT being cruel it is being responsible. If someone fails to control the horse properly then every horseman is getting ticked off because they dont want their horse to act up as well. I repeat: a lipchain is not a cruel thing. :)

As for evaluating horses' soundness for wagering purposes - I dont mind an old, locked ankle but I hate to see a bow. Also, look at the amount of "sag" from the ankle joint, comparing it to the other. Some horses will sink lower on one as a result of damage to the various soft tissues there. I try to stay away from those. You can look for thickness in the tendon. But the thing is, those horses have those legs because they RUN. They earn those stripes. They are professional athletes.

Another betting thing you dont like to see in the paddock is a horse who is washy, nervous, or hard to saddle. They usually dont want to be there and are trying to let us know "Enough! I need a break!!!"

Have fun, look at the various track's signals you can watch via simulcast, bet a few bucks by trying to guess the winner in the paddock. Our track (Mountaineer) has some lovely restaurants, I bet Delta has some nice ones too at the track.

Best of luck, and dont forget to check out the leadponies and their people. There are all kinds of leadponies here, many are retired racehorses. Beautiful paints are common too, as sometimes they like to "out chrome" one another.

Nov. 26, 2007, 02:32 PM
Weeeeee! You guys are making me even more excited! I think I will have a hard time hiding my crazy horse girlness while there. I will also have to force myself not to talk about my own TB...a Slew grandson who was too slow to bother racing. See, I can't help myself even now :winkgrin:

All muscle, low fat horses....check
Lip shank....check

I don't have a problem with any of that. I'm more afraid that I am going to break down in tears if a horse gets hurt.

Great link for the race card...thanks!

Is there any etiquette I should know about if I get to the barn area? I'm guessing that I shouldn't pet or kiss any of the horses ;)

And what makes a balanced race horse?

Nov. 26, 2007, 02:41 PM
You mentioned that she was butt high, but she didn't look like it from that pic. Front and back look pretty even there.

If you get to the barns with your friend or trainer etc, just remember the usual barn ettiquette. Ask before petting or touching any horses. Don't take treats unless the trainer (or whoever your host is) gives them to you. Some barns don't mind feeding of treats and others ban it. Also, you'd not want to feed a horse something, even as harmless as candy and then find tht he's running that night or tomorrow. Racehorses are tested for drugs and you never know what chemicals could cause a "positive."
If the person taking you to see the horses knows you are a horse person, they will probably bring you to see the "barn pet" horses that everyone loves and that have nice attitudes. If you see a pylon/contruction cone or some other object in front of a stall, that may be a sign to steer clear of that horse. In many NY barns that means the stall's occupant is not a pleasant horse, may bite or kick etc.

Jessi P
Nov. 26, 2007, 04:57 PM
Linny great point about the cones. I learned from Johnathan Sheppard a very similar way to keep folks from walking on top of my stud's head where he can reach them. I took a bale of straw and turning it sideways on its side and voila, now they have to walk on the other side of the shedrow. I have never understood why folks would walk right on top of the horses if the shedrow is 8-10 feet wide. Drives me insane. Some people just dont make sense. Yanno if you can walk on the right side of a shedrow you arent going to be within reach of the horses in the stall. Grr, just a pet peeve of mine.

When I was a teenager my race horse had a pylon cyclone thingy to play with. They eventually moved him to the schoolie barn because he liked to pick up his cone and throw it into his neighbors stalls. :) Goofy horse.

Nov. 26, 2007, 05:09 PM
Just a tip from another dressage rider/racing newbie- when I went to my first race with some racing friends my racing trainer friend told me to pick the horse with the best walk. I just looked for the "10" walk and won a little on every (tiny) bet I placed! I'm sure it's not a sure-fire method, but at least I know how to look for a great walk :)

Nov. 26, 2007, 09:00 PM
Rosy IS huge -- wow! Does she descend from a Hail To Reason bloodline?

'Never been to Delta Downs but I love taking in the races...I usually don't place my bet until I've had a chance to take a good look at the horses in the paddock. A horse might look great in his PPs on paper but if I see him getting ancy & washed out (breaking out in a sweat), burning up all his energy before he even steps foot on the track...I put my money on someone else.

Sometimes the horses that do really well, especially over the shorter distances, look a bit the opposite of what you'd want in a dressage horse -- built downhill with a massive hind end.

You can see all kinds at the track, from the career players who set up shop in a booth with a simulcast tv, to horsemen, to vacationers. Certain parts of the clubhouse may require a dress code, but for the most part anything goes in the grandstand. I usually go with a clean casual look in a polo.

Do keep your wits about you on the backside. No petting unless permission is granted. Stay to the outer edge of the shedrow aisle if it is clear, but if there is a horse being walked you need to stand on the stall side as the horse passes you. (At least, this is what we always do at Suffolk.)

Have fun!

Nov. 26, 2007, 09:37 PM
Barnfairy, I'm not sure what her bloodlines are. I will find out though. I don't think she was much over a year old in that pic so I am anxious to see what she looks like now.

I am excited about learning a new word...shedrow. Must find a way to slip that into a sentence while there so I can sound like I actually know something ;)

I posted the same questions on another board and somebody replied with an interesting thought. They thought Delta Downs was an odd choice to race her because it might be tougher on a tall, leggy horse to make the turns on a smaller track. Does anybody here have any experience with that? I know the trainers chose to bring my friend's horses to that area because of a good selection of nearby tracks to choose from.

Nov. 27, 2007, 04:44 PM
Good luck and have fun - it really IS a fun experience. You seem to have a very good attitude about it, and that will make you more welcome than someone who is judging without learning how things are and why they are done a certain way would be. It's so frustrating when we get judged and out horses are just as loved and in many cases cared for better than at some of the show barns and backyard barns. I do the hunters as well as own/breed racehorses, so I've seen both sides.

As for going to the backside - to me that is the best part of going to the races. If you can go watch them gallop in the morning, that is the BEST. Watching a race from the turn heading into the homestretch is also one of my favorite things - you can hear the jockeys talking and the hoofbeats and breathing from the back rail, and the crowd noise and annoucer sound far away.
When you are in the barn area or walking around the backside, heads up and pay attention - you really don't want to get in the way lol! Watch it when going around corners in the shedrow, and beware that many of the horses are nippy. Most trainers don't mind you patting the horses - just ask which ones. Most of ours are hams and love bugs and are used to getting carrots and peppermints. I agree with only giving treats if the trainer gives them to you.

I'm not familiar with Delta Downs - we race in FL, NY and MA. Hope you enjoy it and the filly has a good experience. There may be some first time starters in with her as well as others who have started but not won. Talk to your friend to make sure you know where the winners circle is and what to do if the filly wins - things happen very fast if she does, so you'll want to know what to do. Don't be shy about getting in the winner's circle and getting a copy of the win picture - the more the merrier!

Nov. 27, 2007, 07:11 PM
Holy crap, Barnfairy...good call on Hail To Reason
Ripe Plum bloodlines (http://www.pedigreequery.com/ripe+plum2)

Witherbee, I would love to watch them gallop in the morning! Do they gallop the horses that are going to run that night in the morning?

Unfortunately, I just got word that she did not get in the race. Hmmmm. According to trainer, they filled the race with La horses first. Only, when I checked the entries, that race is filled with La, Tx, Ky, and Fl horses. Something about their agent not getting them in? Is that normal?

Apparently, if they can not get her in a race at Delta Downs by next Wednesday, they are going to the Fairgrounds...whatever that means.

Nov. 27, 2007, 08:01 PM
The Fairgrounds... lucky you!!! You can stay in the French Quarter and really live it up!!

The Fairgrounds are in New Orleans... great place to be... as long as you dont linger around the track or the neighborhood after dark...

Sometimes races do overfill... do you know if she got on the Also Eligible list? If she did she should get in next time...

Horses do not usually gallop on race day...but every horse and trainer is different.

Good Luck and HAVE FUN!!!

Nov. 27, 2007, 09:10 PM
The FairGrounds is one of the coolest tracks around. It's New Orleans' track and they have a nice fall-winter meet. Many big barns "winter" there but they also run alot of races for local horses and LAbreds. Visit at www.fgno.com

Let me know when she gets in. I'm still happy to look over her race for you.

Her breeding is nice. Scottish Halo was a NY stakes horse and she has some nice horses in her female line. She really does look like a Hail to Reason. They tend to be very big.

Nov. 28, 2007, 11:38 AM
I posted the same questions on another board and somebody replied with an interesting thought. They thought Delta Downs was an odd choice to race her because it might be tougher on a tall, leggy horse to make the turns on a smaller track. Does anybody here have any experience with that? I know the trainers chose to bring my friend's horses to that area because of a good selection of nearby tracks to choose from.

Delta Downs is what is known as a bullpen track - it's a shorter track with tight turns and a short stretch. A lot of people are hesitant to take big horses there and you hear a lot of people say they don't want to run their horses there in general. The turns aren't that though and the competition is a lot softer than at the Fairgrounds. It's a good place for a first race.

Regarding her not drawing in, is she shipping in from FL? The states you see in the entries refer to the state where the horse was bred. A lot of races are over subscribed and it isn't uncommon to have trouble finding a race for a horse.

On the backside, remember to stay to the side of the handler of any horse that comes by. And, don't be shocked at all the junk and stuff in aisleways. Also, southern LA is a little different than a lot of racing venues. A lot of the horsemen go back many generations and they definitely know what they are doing. But, sometimes attitudes are a little different and they might be perceived as a bit rough around the edges. I love it in LA, but there are times when I'm just like WOW.

Have fun and please keep us updated on when she draws in - I can't wait to hear all about your experiences! :yes:

Oh - and dining - well, you'll be in Cajun country, so be sure to take advantage of it! Lots of good eatin'. Just stay away from the nutria. :D

Nov. 28, 2007, 11:45 AM
Oh! I forgot to talk about the horse! I looked up Ripe Plum (love the name) to give you some conversation starters. She has one half brother (out the same dam) who has raced and he did pretty well earning apprx. $60k in 40 starts. Sorry I don't have more, but maybe that factoid will be useful.

Nov. 28, 2007, 12:04 PM
Louisiana tracks are a lot of fun. At Fairgrounds, you can get on the rail at the finish with no problem, and the paddock is friendly and easy to get a good spot at. Evangeline is new and nice but closed now. I've never been to Delta Downs but all my OTTBs were raced there at one time or another. Have fun - it's a great initiation into racing and the local people are very nice.

Nov. 28, 2007, 02:59 PM
Hope you still get to go!

Most trainers do not gallop the horse the day of the race. A lot of them just hand walk the horse in the shedrow. A horse that has raced a few times usually knows it is going to race by the change in the feeding schedule and usually they get "treated" (Lasix or whatever other legal substance that horse may get), and just by the atmosphere - they sense it.

My favorite thing is just to watch the morning excercise rides - even after all these years I never get tired of it. Watching and listening to the people is almost as entertaining as the horses lol!

As others have said, it's very common to not get into a race and have to wait for it to come around again.

Nov. 28, 2007, 04:29 PM
Thank you ALL so much for your replies and thank you for not making fun of my ignorance! Horse people really are the best, no matter what the discipline.

Sleepy, she has been in that area for a couple months at least. The latest news is that they are going to try again for Delta Downs next week and if they can't get her in they will take her to the Fairgrounds. Apparently they have a turf track and that is what they think she will excel at anyhow.

I'm kind of hoping that's what happens after reading your replies about the Fairgrounds anyways.

Besides that, my friend's colt may run his first race there as well. Maybe I'll get to see both of them run. Here's a pic of Joe a little over a year ago...

Joe (http://s91.photobucket.com/albums/k311/Slewpy/Frank/?action=view&current=IMGP1909.jpg)

Thanks again, all!

Nov. 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Joe is beautiful! I need to get some new pictures of our guys - they are all growing and changing so much. Getting ready to send 2 of them to the Training Center...

Nov. 28, 2007, 04:44 PM
Please do witherbee! I think I'm going to hang out here more often now. I bet I can learn a thing or two :yes:

Joe's pedigree (http://www.pedigreequery.com/joes+irish+outlaw)

Nov. 29, 2007, 10:26 AM
Just a tip from another dressage rider/racing newbie- when I went to my first race with some racing friends my racing trainer friend told me to pick the horse with the best walk. I just looked for the "10" walk and won a little on every (tiny) bet I placed! I'm sure it's not a sure-fire method, but at least I know how to look for a great walk :)

Me, I keep an eye out for which one poops between the paddock and the gate.

So call me crazy.

Dec. 1, 2007, 09:11 AM
Hey Linny! She's racing next Thursday in the 5th race.

Ripe Plum's race (http://www.equibase.com/static/entry/DED120607USA-EQB.html)

How do we find the odds on the horses? Is there a better website than equibase?

We won't be going to see her but we are planning to go to the Fairgrounds when she and the colt will both be racing there.

Thanks again for your help :)

Dec. 1, 2007, 09:58 AM
Personally, I think the Daily Racing Form format is easier to read.


Tomorrow they will add the "morning line," or the official handicapper's estimate of the odds on each horse.

Right now all I can see is the filly is up against some horses who have started already, because it says FTL or "first time Lasix" under the medications for her, and the other horses only say "L" so they have for sure been in a race on Lasix before, and one or two who are not running on Lasix at all.

That doesn't mean much - they might have more experience, but then again, there are "maidens" who have run 10 or 20 races and only shown that they feel safe in the middle of the pack.

Maiden races are notoriously difficult to handicap for this reason. At Saratoga, though, there is usually so much back stretch "whisper" that any horse whose real potential has been noted at morning workouts is heavily bet at the window, although often at the last minute.

A horse's first race is always a special occasion filled with nervous anticipation, and owners want them at the least to have a safe trip, a good experience and to at least show something positive, like closing at the end of the race and passing horses, or handling themselves well in a tight situation. Of course every owner secretly imagines their horse is going to win "at first asking" but there are so many things that can happen out there.

At the track, one of my greatest pleasures is listening to owners rationalize their horse's performance after a race. My favorite was at Belmont: "He IS a racehorse, he just doesn't know it yet."

Dec. 2, 2007, 11:33 AM
Cool. As Monicabee said, they will add a morning line once the track's handicapper looks over the races. The morning line is the handicappers assessment of the horse's chances.

The morning line odds though are NOT what you'll get if you bet. The actual odds at racetime are set by the betting. The more $$$ bet on a given horse, the lower the odds.

Dec. 7, 2007, 09:52 AM
Ripe Plum finished 5th.