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NEED ADVICE asap - newbie owner and trainer issues

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  • NEED ADVICE asap - newbie owner and trainer issues

    As a newbie racehorse owner I'm having some issues with my trainer and don't know how to handle it. Can any trainers give me some input asap as I don't know if the trainer is being reasonable or not and what to do with my horse.

    Have a 4 yr old gelding. Was in training last year with this trainer, bucked his shins and never started. Wintered him at home, nice and sound, sent him back to the track beginning of April as soon as it opened. Has had pretty decent works, trainer is happy with him. Made his first lifetime start first week of August (is this a long time from starting training to actually starting or is it normal?). Race is 5 furlongs, trainer tells me it's just for schooling as the horse wants to go long. Horse breaks very badly, got left behind and is last the whole way though made up quite a few lengths in the stretch with no asking from the jockey. Finished 14 lengths back. Trainer says he bled lightly, will put him on lasix for next race.

    Does not race again for 3 weeks, no works except for one 4 furlong 4 days before race (again is this the norm, didn't seem like much to me?). This race is 1 1/16 with a lot of horses from better track dropping way down hoping to break their maiden. Horse got bounced and crashed between 2 horses badly at the break. Jockey goes to the whip right away and he ends up second to last after playing catchup around the first turn. Midway through the backstretch he just packs it in, slowed right up and ran last the rest of the way, jockey didn't ask him at all, he just cantered home 40 lengths back.

    Day after the race trainer advises that his racing career is over and to come pick him up. Says he's good in the mornings but doesn't have it in the afternoons. I've thrown 2 yrs worth of money at getting him to finally start and figured we would at least finish up the last 2 months of the season, get him some experience and see if he improves. Obviously if he doesn't then he won't be running again next year.

    Trainer is pressuring me constantly now that the horse needs to leave immediately. She has family issues etc and wants him out. Her ex has the horse now, I think they just split up, so now getting pressure from him as well. He says he will keep the horse for a much bigger day rate (had a deal with her for a lower day rate and higher purse split).

    My question is does the above sound normal and also given those 2 starts is this horse worth throwing more money at or do just two bad starts say that he's a washup and just don't bother? The horse is quite small by the way, only maybe 15.2hh, so is often dwarfed by his rivals. Still his morning works are pretty good so it's not like he doesn't have some ability.

    ADVICE/INPUT PLEASE as they are really pressuring me by the hour now to make a decision.

  • #2
    The amount of time before the first start sounds fine. It doesn't sound like the horse was ready to go long so I don't think you can throw the towel in yet. I would not keep the horse with the current trainer for another minute though. They have made it more than clear that they don't want him, if you convince them to keep him they aren't going to try with him and it would be a waste of time and money. Find someone else and give him another shot if he is sound.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • #3
      Find someone else to train your horse. It does not soud like they were doing the job they were being paid to do. A 4f work before a 1 1/16 race is too short. Had the horse worked 6, 7 or even a mile before it was entered in a route race? Don't give up on your horse just yet, find a better trainer and keep your nose in your horses' progress. If a trainer is not willing to talk to you on a regular basis then they are not worth doing business with. Sarah

      Facebook: Hilltop Farm VA


      • Original Poster

        Thanks guys, I really need the input! All of his morning works have been 3 or 4 furlongs except for one at 5 furlongs out of the gate about 3 weeks before his first race. I questioned her many times about how he could be fit enough to go 1 1/16 with just working 4 furlongs and she said if she didn't think he was fit enough she wouldn't have entered him, that's the only answer I got. I have jumpers and this whole training mentality didn't make sense to me. And when I watched that last race he looked like he just ran out of wind/stamina halfway through the race and packed it in, which made sense to me given his training schedule, I couldn't see how he could go that distance.

        Is it normal to only do one work in 3 weeks leading up to a race, i.e. between the 1st and 2nd starts? If not, what is the norm?

        He's totally sound, that's what is really frustrating is all this time and money and they want to send a sound horse home after he's just finally ready to run.

        One other question, they say he wants to go two turns, he doesn't have the speed for the sprints. I really don't know if that's true or not? So what distance is appropriate at this stage for a race?

        Here are his works, he's only had 6 since being there in April, listed from oldest to most recent:

        2f - 25:6
        3f - 36:20
        3f - 36:60
        4f - 49:80
        5f - 103:00
        4f - 50:40 (this was the one in between races)

        Forgot to mention, one of the things the trainer raved about with him is that he has such a tough attitude, whatever he hooks up with in the mornings he will dig in and absolutely not let them pass him no matter how fast he needs to go or how much better the company is, he has a real will to win. I doubt these two races did much for him mentally, kinda sad. He's running at bottoms so no place for him to drop at the track he is at either.


        • #5
          Murph - I know of a trainer in your general area that keeps her racehorses at home and ships in out out of Woodbine to work them, it might be worth getting in touch with her to see if she would take him on. If you're interested send me a PT.


          • #6
            Murph, PM'ing you. Hubby trains where you are.


            • #7
              I would not have run him 1 1/16 with only those works. My 5 yr old that is now racing had not worked 6f yet and I put her in a 6f race to use as a work and get a little experience as she usually breezed alone. Sunday she ran in a 6 1/2 and ran so much better. Jock messed her up a bit at the start, but he took my instructions quite literally. Anyhow, I was so pleased with her keeping up this time and finishing strong that I do not mind she finished 8th. She showed she learned something from her first race. If a trainer puts a horse in a race that is too far for their fitness level, eventually you will sour them and they will stop trying. What is his breeding? And if he has any siblings that raced, what have they done. That will kind of give you an idea of which distance he is best suited. I train hunters and jumpers as well as racehorses and in any discipline your horse needs to be fit enough for the task asked of it. So many trainers want to rush everything even with a patient owner. It is worse if there is a cheaper day rate and higher percentage as the trainer is not making as much money if the horse does not pick up a check. So, that is something you may want to rethink as well, it will probably be more benficial to the horse. Sarah

              Facebook: Hilltop Farm VA


              • #8
                Oh and I forgot to mention that even though that shows only published works, it does not mean a trainer is not working a horse and just clocking it themselves. Most trainers will let the owner know they worked a horse and did not publish it and give the owner the time. If yours did not let you know, then possibly those are the only works he's done. Sarah

                Facebook: Hilltop Farm VA


                • #9
                  Hi Murph,
                  Sorry to hear you're having such a frustrating time. It really annoys me when this sort of thing happens because it really hurts our owner retention. This is supposed to be a fun sport - not just a giant, expensive headache.

                  Never keep a horse with a trainer who doesn't like him. Move your horse ASAP. I really doubt they are even working him now - he's probably just standing in the stall. So, even if you have to take him home for a few weeks until you find a better spot, you won't really lose anything in terms of condition and you'll save money.

                  Just based on the fact that you would still like to run the horse I think you should keep him in training. Each owner and trainer has a different threshold for dealing with poor performances. Just do what you are comfortable with. But, from what you say, the horse deserves another chance(s). The fun thing about maidens is that each time they race, the winner will move on to another condition and you won't meet him for a while. I have a friend who loves to tell the story of one of his who started nine times before putting in a good effort. It happens. It just depends on what the connections are comfortable with. Also, you mentioned running on the bottom. Sometimes, bottom maidens are tougher than one step up from the bottom - because the bottom is where everyone drops to try to get an easy win.

                  While I think you need to be honest with your next trainer, I would caution you about saying anything along the lines of "X thought I should retire him." Set your horse up for success - not failure. I would sort of spin this situation to focus on the former trainer's personal probelms and, without going into details or airing laundry, allude to the fact that was why you moved the horse (which in all reality is likely the root of the problem).

                  Hilltop made a very good point about official works. Your work schedule looks about right for official works. I would expect the trainer did some additional speed work in between and I would be surprised if the horse wasn't given a little bit of an opener closer to the first race. Plus, if you are talking about official works, 5/8ths is generally the longest work that will be published. The horse can work further, but the clocker will stop at 5/8ths. But, regarding distance, two turn horses will not work flat out for the distance they will run. Think of it like a marathon runner - they don't run a marathon every week. But, what they might do is gallop the horse out after the work for a ways or 2 min. lick (faster than a gallop but not as fast as a breeze) for a longer distance. Once the horse gets racing regularly, you will likely not see any official works between races.

                  Everything else sounds about right. It's typical to sprint a first time starter regardless of their distance preference. Four months to bring a horse back from a long lay-up is on the slow side, but about right. The work schedule looks typical. The only really big red flag I'm seeing is that the trainer doesn't like the horse and is having personal problems.

                  Bottom line: you need to move the horse, but I'm not seeing anything that would indicate the horse isn't cut out for racing. Good luck!


                  • #10
                    GO PICK UP YOU HORSE AND GET HIM FAR AWAY FROM THOSE PEOPLE!! It is a very bad sign if a trainer is calling and pressuring you to come and take him away, speaking from experience, its usually the complete opposite...normally they are very slow to ship them home and quick to keep the bills coming. I would be very concerned for his welfare, they obviously have NO interest in your horse and seem totally unprofessional and and completely useless. If I am reading your post correctly they first ran him over 5f telling you he was just out for the run and a school but really he needed further (ok, I get the whole "out for the run" thing) but then his next race they run him over 4f???? what was that all about???? makes absolutely no sense. Sounds like they just stuck him in random race simply to keep you happy.
                    Finding a good trainer is no easy task, its so important to find someone who is on the same page as you and one who actually cares about the horse and not just the check that arrives each month.
                    I think the most important thing now is to bring him home.
                    best of luck!!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoJo2006 View Post
                      GO PICK UP YOU HORSE AND GET HIM FAR AWAY FROM THOSE PEOPLE!! It is a very bad sign if a trainer is calling and pressuring you to come and take him away, speaking from experience, its usually the complete opposite...normally they are very slow to ship them home and quick to keep the bills coming. I would be very concerned for his welfare, they obviously have NO interest in your horse and seem totally unprofessional and and completely useless. If I am reading your post correctly they first ran him over 5f telling you he was just out for the run and a school but really he needed further (ok, I get the whole "out for the run" thing) but then his next race they run him over 4f???? what was that all about???? makes absolutely no sense. Sounds like they just stuck him in random race simply to keep you happy.
                      Finding a good trainer is no easy task, its so important to find someone who is on the same page as you and one who actually cares about the horse and not just the check that arrives each month.
                      I think the most important thing now is to bring him home.
                      best of luck!!
                      Nope, you are not reading that correctly, but I agree with the sentiment nonetheless.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home


                      • #12
                        What exercise besides official works?

                        Besides doing the official works for your horse, what daily exercise was he getting. How far and how often was he galloped?

                        Years ago, I had a Perrault filly I loved. We sent her to the track, and it was about the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced. She started twice, and the second start, she looked so bad, i refused to get in the saddling paddock for fear people would think I had something to do with that mess.

                        One thing I learned from that experience is that most trainers will do what they darned well please..regardless of what they have told you they would do. You may have a long discussion about your horse and think there is an agreement about the way it will be trained. That would be a normal business standard. This business isn't normal.

                        It soured me on racing for about 5 or 6 years. I didn't even watch the Kentucky Derby (before it was presented by YUM! Brands).

                        This time I'm having fun. We are training a 3 year old filly ourselves. In fact we head to Remington Park tomorrow to do an official work. She is a winner as a two year old, but they gave up on her a few months ago. She was lame and sour. She is now sound and happy. While not a professional trainer;-), my thinking is that a sound and happy horse has a better chance than a lame and hateful sour horse. We will see soon.

                        She may not be able to outrun a fat man on foot anymore, ( we think she can) but we are having fun... which is supposed to be the point of a game.

                        You mentioned having jumpers . Why not get your horse fit yourself and just ship in to enter with a day trainer? It might be fun, and surely you could do as well as a professional who trained him for a 40 lengths loss. Hey they don't have any placings worse than last.

                        Paul N. Sidio
                        Spokane MO
                        To Finish is To Win.


                        • #13
                          The tricky part about having a horse in training on a deal is that it still costs to have that horse in training. Unless the trainer is from a small outfit where he or she gallops, cools out and does the stall, it is still costing him or her to have those things done. Other costs include having a pony on race day, having someone paddock and cool out...so if the horse isn't picking up cheques, it's a financial drain and the trainer wants it gone NOW.
                          Point of this? Make sure that when you look for your new trainer, you are solid in knowing who pays for what, what percentage he/she expects, etc. That way it is fair to both of you, and therefore your horse. Even at B-tracks, day rate isn't cheap.
                          Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                          Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique