View Full Version : What is the missing link?

May. 23, 2011, 12:04 AM
So another year and no TC. Curious what you all think the racing world is missing. By this I mean back in the 70's the Triple Crown had numerous winners, and years before that too. We have had many almost theres, many excuses too. What did the horses of yester-year have that we dont have now? More heart? Different training? Better breeding? Lets hear your thoughts.

May. 23, 2011, 02:33 AM
IMHO they raced more/harder. By the time we saw T.C contenders the were excactly that horses that had earned the right to be there. Not won two big purse races with no idea how they would react to distances pressure fatigue etc.

I don't know many sports where the best get better by doing less. :no:

Also although it seems like we've not had a T.C winner in a long time the gap between Citation and Secretariat was 1948-1973 The gap between Sir Barton and Gallant Fox 1919-1930. In total there have only been 11 T.C winners vs 92 years of racing. Odds are against it. Something special will come along some day .. maybe

May. 23, 2011, 10:58 AM
I personally think that in this country we are (and have been) perpetually breeding horses that have major conformation defaults, and that are really only bred for major speed in short distance races, not for horses that have the type of breeding that should be able to handle distances AND handle a full race schedule without having their feet and legs fall apart.
I really like Animal Kingdom's bloodlines...I can only hope he continues to be a very successful racehorse, and that he will stand at stud (even if only part time) here in the US. His infusion of rare to the US blood (with no Mr. Prospector, Native Dancer or Storm Cat, just to name a few) would be a huge boon for diversifying the gene pool and maybe we'd start to get some more horses out there who can handle distance, can run well on multiple surfaces, and who don't have glass ankles.
I also think there ought to be more criteria than JUST graded stakes earnings to get into the Triple Crown fields. Just because a horse runs one or two big races and wins, doesn't mean that they honestly have any business running in a classic (Uncle Mo, Midnight Interlude, et al).

May. 23, 2011, 11:08 AM
I think part of the problem is that horses are now being bred for their commercial value-- looks matter more now than ever, and things are being done to these babies at a very young age to ensure that when they go to the yearling sales, that they are the very best physical specimens they can be at that time-- ie: leg straightening procedures being done as short weanlings. To me this is doing the breed a great disservice, as these horses are being surgically altered from their natural skeletal positions, which is then passed on to the foals they produce, which is then passed on yet again. I feel the toughness of the "old school" type that it takes to win 3 races at Classic distances in a 5 week stretch has been bred out of the breed. Don't even get me started on the whole "medication" issue. The skeletal altering of foals I believe is the crux of the problem.

That's my two cents... I have an opinion on how to halt this situation, and will gladly share it with you if you care to hear it-- I have devised a breeding system that I think could help bring both the overpopulation and the fragility of the thoroughbred breed back under control-- it's too bad it would never fly in the industry though.

May. 23, 2011, 02:32 PM
There was a very long TC drought between Citation and Secretariat. Just as in the years immediately preceding Citation, there was a brief period of Triple Crown winners--3 in 4 or 5 years and I'd add The Bid, even if he didn't win. Then back to the drought. But during it, we had a period where there were truly legitimate contenders-- Silver Charm, Charismatic, and Real Quiet. (1997-2002) IMO, we haven't had what I'd call a legitimate contender since.

Why? I'd suggest that the vast majority of TBs simply are not being bred for classic distances, so the pool of horses to run in those races is thin at best. We're getting the biggest frog in a little pond; rather than the best frog in the vasty deep.

May. 23, 2011, 09:11 PM
I don't know a lot about TB racing but my gut would say maybe the opposite of what others have said: now there are so many colts who CAN go as much as is required for the larger stake races. No? Yes? Speed records aren't being set much anymore on the TB racing side, no? The last two were Affirmed and Secretariat. I don't think anyone here will argue that Secretariat was a freak. That being the case..when's the last time we had a "freak" on our hands? Affirmed and Alydar slugged it out and where were the rest of them?

Another thing: IMHO, the Kentucky Derby is such a crapshoot bc just too much can happen with so many horses. My honest opinion? Slightly cleaner trip and Afleet Alex would have been your most recent TC winner.

May. 23, 2011, 10:02 PM
Afleet Alex was for real, and I think maybe Smarty Jones and Funny Cide, too. I think there are alot of factors that come into play. Where there 20 horses in the Derby 30 yrs ago? I was thinking there were 15? 20 horses leaves alot of the race up to "trip", though it was not a factor this year, IMO.

The commercial breeding programs have darn near killed us. Trying to train these "hothouse orchids" to actually race and hold up is a nightmare.

I am not sure, however, that our problems are not exacerbated by the speeding up of the track surfaces. Speed = Force, one of the basic laws of physics. So, now we have flawed conformation and weaker bred horses running faster that they should be do to ultra-tight surfaces. More of a problem out here in the west, but still a problem most places.

May. 23, 2011, 11:29 PM
Great input, thanks guys. Would love to hear more. i know there were big gaps in the TC's, but it seems that the past horses were just stronger, ran more, and longer. Now they lose and are retired at 3 yrs old. I also recall some great horses with gastly conformation faults being some of the best! Pretty is as pretty does! lol

May. 24, 2011, 12:02 AM
Alot of those TC winners only face a 2-3 other horses in the Belmont, think of how many near misses would have won had you taken one horse out of that race?

I think it's funny that how many years of near misses follow a trend....

-The Longshot or at least not so highly regarded horse upset wins the Derby.
-The favorite in that race usually has traffic trouble or some other excuse and often ends up running 2nd.
-The underdog wins the Preakness easily, often by a number of lengths and in good time
-The Derby favorite comes back and finally gets retribution or a bad ride does in the almost TC winner in the Belmont

May. 24, 2011, 01:35 AM
Hard to forget Sunday Silence, as well. What if there were no Easy Goer? But I'm so glad I got to see SS on TV in the TC races, even if he was only 2 out of 3 for them, man what a crazy-gorgeous horse.

And seeing Afleet Alex get back up from his knees is one of the all-time best athletic performance memories for me, so far. There has still been some good stuff since the '70s, at least.

May. 24, 2011, 05:43 PM
It's not really the races that are so attractive to a lot of owners, one might speculate, but the added value in the breeding shed for a KY Derby winner. As long as racing revolves around breeding/sales values rather than racing value, there will be far more horses to try the Derby than would ever have a legitimate chance.

May. 24, 2011, 06:09 PM
It's not really the races that are so attractive to a lot of owners, one might speculate, but the added value in the breeding shed for a KY Derby winner. As long as racing revolves around breeding/sales values rather than racing value, there will be far more horses to try the Derby than would ever have a legitimate chance.

Yep. It's kind of sad to see half the field in a TC race with really no credentials other than having finished 3rd in a Grade II prep race.

May. 24, 2011, 06:51 PM
Yep. It's kind of sad to see half the field in a TC race with really no credentials other than having finished 3rd in a Grade II prep race.

ahh but look at how many horses truly just blossomed during the TC. I mean, Sir Barton was a MAIDEN in the Ky Derby! And he went on to become one of the greatest runners of his time. There have been plenty of horses who didn't do their best running until the TC races. BUT...how many of those horses actually did anything BEYOND the TC?

It does seem that the majority of the TC winners were spectacular 2 year olds. Assault, Omaha and Sir Barton however, were lightly regarded going into the Derby and all of them were able to prove their worth as champions post TC.

Look at many of the near misses. How many of them actually carried on as champions AFTER the TC races. Seems many of them either faded away or never quite rose to the highest ranks of racing, that would prove they deserved the right to be TC winners.

Nowadays there is so much breeding speed and precocity vs stamina and longevity that is why we don't see those champion 2 year olds going on to win the TC races. They have become 2 totally separate kinds of horses, when back in the day, those horses were bred for speed AND stamina. They had it all.

ETA: Are Derby winners really more valuable at stud? Doesn't seem to me they are all that cherished by breeders, specially in a world of breeding for speed and precocity....

May. 24, 2011, 07:12 PM
"Alot of those TC winners only face a 2-3 other horses in the Belmont, think of how many near misses would have won had you taken one horse out of that race?" (BansheeBreeze).

With the increase in value of the purses, there are a lot more horses entered in all of the triple crown races than in previous times. What were the sizes of the fields for the triple crown winners? (Darn small, I'll bet).

If all of those "almosts" had faced smaller fields we might have had several triple crown winners.

Lamb Chop
May. 24, 2011, 07:46 PM
So many of our well-bred TBs spend months or years on end in sales prep now, instead of running in pastures with their buddies. A colt may go through the sales ring as a weanling, yearling, and 2YO, spending most of his life in a stall. When he's put into training, conditioners try to make up for a lack of bone density that would have occurred naturally if the colt was out with his pasturemates moving around all the time, running and playing.

We're raising blemish-free stall babies, not tough pasture colts. To some extent, it's like raising a child in a bathroom, only letting him out for team basketball practice, and expecting him to become the next Michael Jordan.

Flying Fox
May. 27, 2011, 04:38 AM
Nerud smiled mischievously and added, “You know what the cause of most unsoundness is these days? Commercial breeding. Breeders are trying to sell the most expensive yearlings they can, so they choose a stallion with the most market appeal, not because he was the best mate for their mare...”

May. 27, 2011, 12:19 PM
Breeding and sales theories aside (and I don't disagree with them), I'll throw this thought out there...and this is just for discussion, not a statement of fact.

I can't get away from the fact that those earlier and closer together TC winners came during the Great Depression or the WWII and recovery years. Don't think there was alot of depth in those days. Oh, the great ones were, and still are, great ones. Maybe there wasn't alot of "bench strength" in those bloated fields...in fact, IIRC, that was part of the reason they limited entries, too many that didn't belong in the way of those that did.

You might even say that the last three TC winners had similar benefit, that I do not know, you'd need to research who else they faced. I know some of those years were not economic gems either and I know I remember Seretariat being labeled "the best of the worst 3 year old crop in years" (yeah I do remember correctly, sad to say as an adult. heard and read that several times). But the pundits always say stuff like that, or used to anyway. Now they all but throw glitter on the horse du jour handled by a celeb trainer or focus on some Cinderella story that is fun and good enough but ultimately not going to live up to the hype. We get distracted from the fact there are many that can do it some years, like this year of alot of very good horses.

If the industry has disintegrated as much as it sometimes seems, it would not have produced those 3 recent near misses by 3 good horses in years with, obviously, enough depth to beat them in very close races.

Maybe we DO breed more and better horses and that means more depth of quality? More get to the gate that belong there?

And, suppose that the foal crop is smaller in these bad economic times? Less depth? More chance a high quality colt has a better chance to sweep??

Like I said, just something to think about and maybe research of you are bored enough.:) I don't have the answers, just the thoughts.