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Quality Road's major tantrum--no more--- he wins the DONN!

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  • Quality Road's major tantrum--no more--- he wins the DONN!

    I wanted to get ya'lls opinion on this spectacle.

    QR, according to the vet, has had gate issues before.

    The meltdown before the Classic seemed of somewhat epic proportions, at least to me. I thought he'd have overcome this with proper gate schooling?

    Apparently, the plan still stands to run him in cigar mile.

    Most of the trainers I admire, say things after races, where their horse lost, like "Im gonna give my horse a rest, then enter them in some easy races to build their confidence."

    And their horses did not have a meltdown, get scraped up in the gate, etc. !!

    I also have tapes of QRs post parade in the Florida Derby, and seeing him yesterday.......well.......he didn't look right. Drab.

    I'm not a horse whisperer, but maybe he's trying to say something? And nobody listening?

    something about him is bothering me, I need to sort it out.

    Or do you think it was just the big crowds? Certainly, another thing he needs to be schooled in?

    I just feel we are looking at a horse who was a true "champion-in-the-making", who now can't even walk into a gate to race.

    My premise is that, most horses react to being forced to doing things that are uncomfortable for them. If Quality Road is uncomfortable, he has a reason to be uncomfortable....he perceives the event (racing) as threatening or a combination things?
    Last edited by WinterTriangle; Feb. 7, 2010, 02:15 PM. Reason: request to change topic title

  • #2
    Apparently he threw a huge fit boarding the plane as well.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist


    • #3
      On the other hand, QR just learned that pitching a massive fit gets him out of doing something he doesn't want to do...

      I see your point WinterTriangle. Do horses sometimes object to doing things because they hurt? Absolutely. Do some horses object to doing things because they are pigheaded and just don't wanna? Yup.

      Are you suggesting QR had a pre-existing condition to make him act that way? His connections are in the best position to judge why this horse behaves as he does. Chances are that pre-existing condition was his stones. I don't know the extent of injuries he incurred from his tantrum --sounds like they were only superficial-- but it doesn't sound like rest is in order here (he hasn't had exactly the most rigororous of campaigns of late -- and he certainly appeared to be able to use his hind end just fine! ) More gate schooling might be in order though. And if he were a regular old TB and not QR, a little snip snip might help too.


      • #4
        If he was mine I would bring him to my training center and he would eat his meals in the starting gate. I would hang a small feed tub and haynet and leave him there to watch the world go by.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


        • #5
          Originally posted by Barnfairy View Post
          On the other hand, QR just learned that pitching a massive fit gets him out of doing something he doesn't want to do...
          This. It's not something that can be un-learned in a couple of morning sessions either. They had no choice under the circumstances, of course.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mara View Post
            This. It's not something that can be un-learned in a couple of morning sessions either. They had no choice under the circumstances, of course.
            Me, three. I had a horse (OTTB, actually), who thanks to piss-poor handling by our h/j trainer, learned this about loading on a trailer--if he threw a massive enough tantrum, he didn't have to do what he didn't want to. But at least in that situation, I can take two hours to put him on a trailer. The AS doesn't have that kind of time with 12 other horses in the gate.

            I agree with Laurie--if he were mine he'd be practically living in that gate until his next race, and if I were doing it he'd never know if this were going to be load/eat/hang out, load/back out, load/open front gates/walk out, load/break, load by being backed in from the front, load with a buddy, load alone...not until the day that he loaded when asked with a minimum of fuss.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by VirginiaBred
              Apparently he threw a huge fit boarding the plane as well.
              Here is the link to that story.

              Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist


              • #8
                I was surprised in reading the article that the farm manager placed partial blame on the gate handlers:
                “Initially, the gate crew handled things what I perceived to be very properly, patting him on the head and neck and reassuring him. He already was agitated and hesitant and they tried to do things in a calm way. Then they went right away to the harsh stuff, like the blindfold. It went from not loading to dangerous pretty quickly. The one thing I feel good about is that his behavior didn’t cost anyone else a chance to run a fair race.”
                I've been watching horse racing for 25 years, and have seen many an anxious horse be blindfolded and marched right in. I have never, ever seen a horse lose their sh!t in a major stakes event the way this one did. Heck, I've rarely seen anything like this in the smaller races, either. But in a grade 1?? This grade 1? Um...no.

                I came here wanting to see what other more experienced horse people thought. I did not blame the crew at all; they were under pressure to load the horse, and they were taking a lot of time as it was. At this level, the expectation is your horse will freakin' load. Hesitate (like Zenyatta)? Okay, sure. Completely come unglued? Um...no.

                My limited understanding has given me what is most likely an uninformed opinion/judgement: I lay blame squarely on the trainer. Not the gate crew, not the horse, but the trainer. Not that I don't have sympathy for Todd Pletcher--good heavens, that must have been heart wrenching to watch for him--but it just gave me the impression the horse is not sufficiently gate broke.

                I want to clarify: I am admitting an uninformed judgment. I feel I must be missing something, and am here seeking insight. By no means do I think my belief is Absolutely Right--it's just an initial reaction.

                That said, Baker has this to say about Quality Road's training:
                “Todd did a lot of gate schooling with him, and he’s always good in the mornings. He’s had him to the gate three or four times between the Jockey Club Gold Cup and this race, and the horse is an angel in the morning, You can’t get him to do anything wrong. They tried to get him wound up, bringing in multiple horses and spinning him in circles, anything they can to aggravate him. He’d hesitate and then walk right in. The afternoon is a different story.
                Weird, overall. And sad for the horse--the problem is now likely 10x worse than it was before.

                Any word on whether this horse gets sanctioned/banned until he shows he will load without incident? I was expecting it, though I don't know what the guidelines are that determine that.
                Last edited by Lauruffian; Nov. 10, 2009, 09:35 PM.
                SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


                • #9
                  I'm good friend with Chris Baker's wife.

                  I haven't gotten in touch with her since the Classic. I know they have been busy.

                  All I can say is, I highly recommend they see a veterinary behaviorist. Obviously the "normal" training isn't going so well for QR. He needs to go to the pony shrink (not to be confused with the pony whisperer). I've been told there is a very good one at UC Davis. It's time to up the anty.


                  • #10
                    I am not a racehorse trainer, but I think a horse that throws fits about loading onto a trailer is a similar challenge. I tend to agree with the trainer's comments about the gate loading staff. I was shocked to see the staff first kicking dirt and then popping a whip behind Quality Road to try to get him to go in. The blindfold may have worked, but the handler leading the horse actually walked him in at an sudden angle (from what I could see from the video) and I think the horse's side banged the corner of the gate, which is what set off his panic.

                    I certainly respect the gate handlers for what is no doubt a dangerous job, and thank God the horse didn't get loose with the blindfold on. But I definitely saw some questionable behavior. I guess it works for most horses - just didn't work at all in this case.


                    • #11
                      Horses that don't want to load in the trailer generally don't want to load in the trailer. Horses that don't want to load in the gate don't want to race. You need to make racing and training a reasonably pleasant experience ie get them sound AND take them to the gate repeatedly to fix the problem.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home


                      • #12
                        Does Anyone Remember Display?

                        Hi All,
                        I haven't spoken with Diana Baker (she's a dear friend) since what happened Saturday, so I won't even wade into these waters as I don't feel it is appropriate. I do want to say that the whole Quality Road team cares passionately about this horse and you can be darn sure he'll get anything he needs to reverse this behavior.

                        It isn't like this has never happened before. Quite honestly, there have been a number of grand stakes horses through the years who have been a tad nuts in the starting gate. The horse who comes immediately to mind is Display (sire of the also brilliant Discovery).

                        If anyone wants, I'll share his race record and history with you. Just post that you are interested and I'll trot out a few quotes about him. To say that starting crews were relieved when he was retired is the ultimate understatement. From my research, I believe he was far, far worse than QR was on Saturday.

                        Hallie I. McEvoy
                        Racing Dreams, LLC


                        • #13
                          The video is now on you tube


                          • #14
                            I remember one of the great mares, either Paseana or Bayakoa, being loaded for the BC Distaff, and she was not happy and was kicing out with one hind at the crew.
                            I remember thinking: Wow, she is going to nail somebody.
                            After a moment, the crew backed off and one handler stayed at her head and the jock just tapped her on the butt and she walked right in.
                            All to say that it is hard to generalize what is the right and wrong thing to do at the gate.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CiegoStar View Post
                              I was shocked to see the staff first kicking dirt and then popping a whip behind Quality Road to try to get him to go in. The blindfold may have worked, but the handler leading the horse actually walked him in at an sudden angle
                              I thought this too. My first reaction was why they couldn't pull that blindfold off sooner. The blindfold was tied. They couldn't get it off. I think we all held our breathe until they could get it off. I was sure the last fellow holding on was going to loose QR and there would be a catastrophe.

                              I've blindfolded horses loading, and surely never tied a tight note I couldn't rip off. I'd rather reapply the blindfold than not be able to get it off. But, I'm no professional horsewoman.

                              My last thought on this:
                              I know from personal experience that the folks in charge of Santa Anita are, how can I put it, not half as responsible or devoted as QR's team. I think that's the politically correct way to say that.

                              Lots of good jingles to get QR and his team home safe and sound.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by red squirrel ridge View Post
                                The video is now on you tube

                                Wow, just wow. What a temper tantrum.
                                "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


                                • #17
                                  I was amazed at how dangerous it was for the handlers to wrap their arms around the haunches of a double-barrel kicking horse like that. How about getting them a strip of canvas with handles at each end to put around the horse's haunches?


                                  • #18
                                    I'm just glad he had his "moment" BEFORE getting on the plane rather than in the air. That might not have ended well for him.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      ah. never thought about his stones.
                                      well, since Zensational has already been retired as of today (3 years old 8-5-1-0) they are worth too much in the breeding shed which was the reason given for Zensational going bye bye (I was FLOORED by this news).

                                      Originally posted by Barnfairy View Post
                                      Are you suggesting QR had a pre-existing condition to make him act that way?
                                      No pre existing condiiton, but more like his gate behavior being cumulative in affect.

                                      I was reading in bloodhorse right after his Travers:
                                      "Before anyone gets down on Quality Road, he took all the worst of it in the Travers, having only one 6 1/2-furlong race in five months, stretching out to 1 1/4 miles, acting up in the gate, and breaking a step slowly and getting bounced around like a three-cushion billiard shot at the start. He was then forced to race bottled up for most of the way, getting mud kicked in his face, and when he finally found some running room he did kick into gear after changing leads late, moving into second at the eighth pole. But it was too much to ask of him under the circumstances....."

                                      Sounds pretty bad go of it! He's not an old warrior and although 3, he didn't race most of the year, inexperienced. Maybe he really didn't want to race?

                                      The Cigar Mile is only 18-19 days from today. I just think that this horse has tons of potential and some turning-around time is in order. JMHO

                                      thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with Laurie and that's a throw back to old school horseman. I know a few people that have done just that -leave them in the gate with food hay and water. Of course in this day and age trainer would be attacked for being inhumane.

                                        Quite frankly, I don't think he has anything physically wrong. He has just figured out how not to do something. He refused to go on the plane too. And I'm guessing that had to be very scary for all involved, especially if this was all taking place on the ramp up to the plane.

                                        Anyway, a cross country van ride shall not be pleasant for the horse.

                                        Wonder what kind of gelding QR would make? Yes, he's too valuable, but brain surgery would go an awful long way to sort these problems.

                                        COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                        "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.