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SkipChange
Jan. 8, 2010, 11:18 AM
So when you buy an OTTB, how strongly do you consider the number of starts the horse had? Would a high number of races discourage you from buying even if it vetted out decent?

What do you consider a high number of starts to begin with? 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, more?

Bogie
Jan. 8, 2010, 11:32 AM
Sometimes the horses that have run a lot and stayed sound are a better bet than the ones who only ran a few times (but couldn't stand up to the stress of training).

If a horse vets sound, I don't care how many starts it had. I had a mare with more than 55 starts that had four of the cleanest legs I've ever seen.

I've seen horses that had four starts that had injuries that made them non-starters for me.

My current OTTB had 28 starts and was retired with a "tweaked" suspensory and an apical sesamoid fracture. I knew he'd been properly rehabbed and cleared to race again . . . I've had him four years now and those injuries were never a problem.

I always vet OTTBs, including films.

SkipChange
Jan. 8, 2010, 11:43 AM
Sometimes the horses that have run a lot and stayed sound are a better bet than the ones who only ran a few times (but couldn't stand up to the stress of training).

If a horse vets sound, I don't care how many starts it had. I had a mare with more than 55 starts that had four of the cleanest legs I've ever seen.

I've seen horses that had four starts that had injuries that made them non-starters for me.

My current OTTB had 28 starts and was retired with a "tweaked" suspensory and an apical sesamoid fracture. I knew he'd been properly rehabbed and cleared to race again . . . I've had him four years now and those injuries were never a problem.

I always vet OTTBs, including films.

Thanks Bogie I'm not sure how that logic didn't cross my mind. Makes sense! I'm always highly suspicious of OTTBs regarding soundness and definitely believe no matter what the price they need to be vetted really well, including films.

I don't know a whole lot about racing but would 50 starts in all claiming type races be unusual/curious? Or is that common/normal?

I'm not actually looking to purchase an OTTB right now (already have a lovely horse), just have a lot of interaction with them.

Keep the opinions coming! Thanks!

ClassyRide
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:01 PM
I agree with Bogie. Number of starts doesn't really affect my choices as much as how clean the horse's legs are. I just got an OTTB in September. She was 6 years old and had 40-something starts. She'd never had an injury and her legs are clean as a whistle - which tells me she's likely to stay very sound.

In reference to the other part of your question, we would have to know the age of the horse and what year it started running to know if it sounds like it was run a lot or not. Others please correct me if I'm wrong, but my *guess* would be that it's average to have between 10 and 12 starts per year? Again, that's just a guess based on my talks with people close to the industry. I could be way off base.

Editing to Add - btw, my "average" number above is assuming that the horse can qualify for that many starts in a year. I remembered after posting that certain types of runners don't have a lot of opportunities - for instance, horses who run on turf don't get nearly the number of starts at some tracks, because they don't have many turf races. So, the whole thing is very relative.

SkipChange
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:09 PM
One particular horse I have in mind, my friend just bought it, has 50 starts
2002 baby

2004--6 races
2005--6 races
2006--14 races
2007--15 races
2008--none
2009--9 races

8 wins
8 second
5 third

50 seemed like so many to me but I guess once it's all spread out over many years seems less intense. The hiatus during 2008 is interesting...in his last race the nots on the race chart are "faltered during stretch" perhaps he was injured and had time off? Who knows. He was not without fault on the PPE, some hints of arthritis in hind fetlocks, thin TB soles on his feet, but seems very sound.

caffeinated
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:17 PM
I would look more at the consistency of performance, and such, than the actual number of races.

An older horse with lots of starts - probably a good tough horse. If racing can't break him, I sure am unlikely to :)

Horses with only a few starts - that can mean different things. In some cases, they're just really bad racehorses and people give up on them early. In other cases, they might be rank or have other issues.

In all cases, it pays to look at the actual races and see how the horse was doing and what his performance was like.

I also look for big breaks in otherwise consistent schedules. That can indicate there was an injury (some trainers give horses vacations, but if a horse has more than 6 months off in an otherwise consistent schedule it can often mean there was a problem). That doesn't necessarily mean there's still a problem (lots of injuries rehab well and horses come out sound on the other side), but it's something to be aware of.

Beam Me Up
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:18 PM
Number of starts isn't a factor for me when buying myself. My favorite horse ever raced until he was 8, and my two soundest were 40+. It's a trade-off--wear and tear is generally not good, but horses who have the conformation and movement to stand up to that work and stay sound, may find show life a breeze. I just bought one with 30 a couple months ago.

For resale, I do think people like fewer starts, because they associate that with soundness, as well as temperament (equating poor racehorse with quiet--which is sometimes but not always true, slow is not the same as good attitude).

Also, something coming off the track at 3 with 2 starts has an age advantage over the 8 year old with 100+.

danceronice
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:28 PM
My new boy has 64 starts in mid-level claiming and a few allowance races over five years. He's seven and sound. My old horse had 28 starts over 3 years in maiden and low-level claimers and was retired with an injury. Unless I see a big gap in a record and/or an abrupt drop in class, or a horse with one or two starts without injury but showed nothing, I will in future favor longer career/more starts/sound over younger/fewer/allegedly sound unless I see the horse personally AND really trust the seller.

jengersnap
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:33 PM
"Faltered" is a race term for a horse that was racing competitively early and failed to maintain the drive in the stretch and starts to fall back. It falls between "weakened" and "stopped" in vernacular. I would imagine an injury would at least note "stopping" or the more serious "pulled up" in the notes unless it occurred after the wire.

Coming from the racing side of things, one of the soundest horses I've got (clean legs, good wind, etc) just turned 11 and had another full year of running last year. He's had 82 starts, and I was riding him cow sorting a couple weeks after his last start. He had 3 starts as a 2 year old, and raced every year thereafter.

'01 - 3
'02 - 5
'03 - 8
'04 - 9
'05 - 3
'06 - 13
'07 - 12
'08 - 15
'09 - 14

There was a year gap between May of '05 and May of '06 and I don't know why (I've only had him since '07) but the previous owners had strange ideas so that could have contributed. As for number of starts, and older horse will often have more starts then a young horse. Often this corrolates with dropping in class as the horse can still run competitively, but probably not at the higher/highest levels it once did. This is the case with my old gentleman.

SkipChange
Jan. 8, 2010, 12:45 PM
"Faltered" is a race term for a horse that was racing competitively early and failed to maintain the drive in the stretch and starts to fall back. It falls between "weakened" and "stopped" in vernacular. I would imagine an injury would at least note "stopping" or the more serious "pulled up" in the notes unless it occurred after the wire.

Coming from the racing side of things, one of the soundest horses I've got (clean legs, good wind, etc) just turned 11 and had another full year of running last year. He's had 82 starts, and I was riding him cow sorting a couple weeks after his last start. He had 3 starts as a 2 year old, and raced every year thereafter.

'01 - 3
'02 - 5
'03 - 8
'04 - 9
'05 - 3
'06 - 13
'07 - 12
'08 - 15
'09 - 14

There was a year gap between May of '05 and May of '06 and I don't know why (I've only had him since '07) but the previous owners had strange ideas so that could have contributed. As for number of starts, and older horse will often have more starts then a young horse. Often this corrolates with dropping in class as the horse can still run competitively, but probably not at the higher/highest levels it once did. This is the case with my old gentleman.

Oh hey thanks! Knowing terminology is key :D
Obviously I don't know much about racing. Just seems peculiar to me to race a mediocre horse such 50 times, and always in claiming races. Why did he never do anything beside claiming races? And took him 14 races and almost 2 full years to break his maiden.

I realize this isn't incredibly important discussion, but it's coooold and wet outside :D I'm finding it very interesting

rideforthelaurels16
Jan. 8, 2010, 01:16 PM
I guess it depends on the horse. My guy raced 38 times over three years, and has great feet and great legs. Others might have raced that many times and be totally broken down - thank god for x-rays! :)

jengersnap
Jan. 8, 2010, 01:27 PM
(laughing) Took my filly 20 starts and nearly 2 full years to break her maiden. She's a well bred girl who started out in $40,000 claimers at Calder and picking up checks but as she was in a big name owner's stable (has them running in major stakes) that wasn't good enough. She went to a friend who did nothing with her then we bought her for $5,000. For us she was again hitting the board or picking up a check (2nd-5th) each time out running maiden special weight on our home track or $12,500 - $20,000 down the road. I like this filly, who just turned four, and didn't want to drop her down as she's been so close so many times before she finally did it and the if she went too low I had a good chance of loosing to a claim. I got her mid year, and she made over $20,000 for us with just the one win this year. When you own and train, picking up a check while keeping the condition isn't a bad thing. Of course, the win was sweet, especially after all those seconds and thirds ;)

Why run always at the claiming level? Well, not every horse is bred to be stakes quality unfortunately. And claimers can be up in the $75,000+ range, or down in the couple grand range. It is just the fairest way of evening out a field is to put a price tag on them. If you want your horse to drop into a lower bracket and decimate the field (which could have happened if I dropped the above filly of ours in for, say, $5,000) then I better be prepared to loose her.

The only protected condition a solid claiming horse like the one you asked about might see is a "starter allowance" now and then. A starter allowance is a race open to horses that have started for a claiming price ("tag") of a certain amount within the past 2 years. Say you see your horse has run in a $5,000 Starter, this means no horses in that race could be claimed, but every horse in there had to have raced for a tag of $5,000 at some point in the last two years to qualify. That's about the only conditions you usually see a solid claimer run in, but they are tough races as the field may hook a lot of horses that have run for that $5,000 once to qualify and have improved a lot since that race or they are old class and on a really good day will leave much of the field behind.

It's a cold wet day here too ;)

Bogie
Jan. 8, 2010, 06:12 PM
(equating poor racehorse with quiet--which is sometimes but not always true, slow is not the same as good attitude).



:lol::lol: Very true. I've seen a few people who got horses off the track that were slower than molasses in winter. What they lacked in speed, they made up for in attitude.

The TBs that I've owned who I found the most pleasant to ride had raced quite a bit and had a very workmanlike approach to being ridden.

Timex
Jan. 8, 2010, 06:44 PM
I got my little mare at 4 with 27 or 28 starts in 2 years. Made good money too. Over the summer I was galloping a 9 year old with 60 odd starts, a 7 year old with almost 50, an 8 year old that had just been retired with 50+, and we had an 11 year old that is still running, a bazillion starts later. And then there's the horses that are injured in training, and never have a single start. Galloped one of those too. So, really, the answer to your question is the ever aggravating 'it depends'. Lol

alteringwego
Jan. 8, 2010, 07:06 PM
I think it really depends on the horse. I'd trust the opinion of the vet and go with your gut.

AllyandPete
Jan. 8, 2010, 10:50 PM
I have had 3 OTTBs

Ally-17 starts...came in third once :-(..ended up with splints on both legs, and had an attitude that lead me to believe something funky was going on with her back that I never really figured out.

Pepper-54 starts...clean legs,super sound

Pete-61 starts...best behaved out of all of them,clean legs and super sound until a farrier literally ruined him :-(

moral of the story....

fewer starts does not equal better

NancyM
Jan. 9, 2010, 10:16 AM
Great responses here already...

If a horse is for sale off the track, it is for one of a few known reasons.

1) The horse has not remained sound enough through training and racing to continue to compete as a racehorse.

2) The horse has won himself out of his conditions, and is not going to be competitive without conditions (in the owner or trainer's opinion).

3) The horse has a minor injury that has made him uneconomic to pay for turnout for healing, and retraining to race again.

4) The horse has no talent as a racehorse.

5) The owners have run out of money to pay the bills.

Sound horses with talent and who are economic racehorses or the owner/trainers have hope may be economic horses at the track are not offered for sale at affordable prices. These are "the good ones" in the race barn. Those who are for sale are culls, for one reason or another.

Horses with short term injury problems may be for sale if it is uneconomic to put the time into rest, rehab, and retraining to competitive fitness. These are often the best buy, no matter how many starts they have had. Sound horses who are athletic and able race, and race regularly, unsound and problem horses are sold. Immature horses who develop soundness problems that prevent them from racing to their full potential are sometimes offered for sale rather than wait for maturity to help solve the problems... these can be good riding/show prospects, if the problems they have developed have remained minor and short term because they got the turn out they needed rather than the masking and pushing on with theses problems, turning them into more perminent problems. Some injuries will be hard to recover from for future racing, causing owners/trainers to discard the horse for the purpose of racing, yet with time to recover will usually come fully sound for other purposes, bowed tendons are one of these. Some chips, bruising in the feet or joints, muscle soreness. Racing owners and trainers consider some of these practically always to be career ending, yet for less strenuous sports with some time to heal, they are rarely a problem. Even showjumping to top levels still counts as less strenuous than racing. High level three day eventing comes close to being similar stresses to racing, and bows are not as acceptable if this is proposed to be the future of the horse.

As for number of starts, depends on the horse. I had one very nice 9 year old horse given to me with over 90 starts, but it was too many starts, he did not recover enough soundness to be a show horse... calcified ligaments. A pity, because he had not really been economic for several years previous to his retirement from racing. Bought another with 55 starts by the end of his seven year old year, he was totally sound, and jumped for years both for me and for later owners. He came off the track with a healed bowed tendon, he'd been running on it for the last couple of years. He also had a huge scar that ran the length of his side, it had been 200 stitches to close him (ran through a fence, laid his side open). He also had a slight cataract in one eye, probably from being hit with a rock during a race at some point, perhaps 10% loss of vision in that eye, but totally functional. He also had a heart murmur/skip at rest which disappeared on motion, also of no importance.

Most OTTBs who have had some ability and been adequately sound for most of their race career are going to have 20 to 40 starts. Depends on what injury (if any) has ended their race career on whether they will be functional in their next career. Horses without race talent, with immaturity problems, or with pre existing soundness problems or conformational problems, or injuries from bad luck or bad training will have no starts, or fewer starts before they are offered for sale.

McVillesMom
Jan. 9, 2010, 10:25 AM
As far as racing a mediocre horse so many times...who knows. My gelding had 33 starts by the time he was coming 6, and won one race. ONE. He ran at 6 furlongs almost every time out, and sometimes finished 30 LENGTHS behind the leader. Yet they still kept running him, I have no idea why.

He's 18 this year, BTW, and (knock wood) is still one of the soundest horses I've known. (He's spent the last 12 years doing eventing, jumpers and dressage.) The only time he had significant time off was with an injury that caused inflammation in his tendon sheath. I recently had a lameness exam done because he was a little NQR behind, and he still flexes very, very well.

So I agree with what others have said - the ones that run a bunch and hold up are more likely to stay sound as a show horse.

farmgirl88
Jan. 9, 2010, 10:29 AM
i wouldnt consider the number of races at all. if you really like a horse, have a PPE done. My TB raced until he was 8 and had 60 starts. He retired completely sound without a single bump, lump, bow or anythign on his legs. the vet who did his PPE was blown away.

Linny
Jan. 9, 2010, 08:49 PM
Oh hey thanks! Knowing terminology is key :D
Obviously I don't know much about racing. Just seems peculiar to me to race a mediocre horse such 50 times, and always in claiming races. Why did he never do anything beside claiming races? And took him 14 races and almost 2 full years to break his maiden.

I realize this isn't incredibly important discussion, but it's coooold and wet outside :D I'm finding it very interesting

He ran in claiming races because that was where he could be competitive enough to earn money. About 90% of all races run in the US are claiming events. If a horse runs well enough in his first few starts that the trainer can at least figure that there is a level at which he may be able to win, most will continue with them. Sometimes it's a matter of trying new equipment or feeding pattern or rider until they find a suitable situation for the horse.

Often the horses that last along time are pretty solid horses and though they may have rougher looking legs they are sound and often very willing animals.