Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Above: 2008 Midas Eyes - Austin Runner Filly
"The Wild Girls" UR 2009 Fillies by millionaire Wild Desert
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I was outraged when I learned in Joe Drape's NY Times article that members of our industry who are making their living looking after the welfare of horses have risen in opposition of the most positive proactive step racing officials have taken to ensure the future of racing......
I have therefore created an online petition to support the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s proposed rule requiring disclosure of racehorses' medical records for 45 days prior to their race-day. As a lifelong thoroughbred owner and breeder, I fully endorse this rule. It is a safety measure for horses and jockeys, and an assurance of integrity for the betting public, prospective owners, and other new arrivals to the sport.
If you are involved in horseracing in any capacity, this rule change is designed to improve the quality of racing, by separating unhealthy horses from those ready to race. Full disclosure is the only way to move horseracing forward.Ultimately, it is the abusive practice of drugs that results in unfit horses running on the track, and making poor contributions to the thoroughbred bloodline. Drugs compensate for crooked legs, poor shoeing jobs, lack of conditioning, and an inability to breathe, among a host of other problems. Concealing these realities has created numerous problems for both people and horses; overpopulation with few humane plans for equine retirement and rising veterinary costs for overtaxed, unhealthy horses are serious issues.
Honesty, transparency, and a genuine love and respect of the horse is the only way racing will thrive. This new rule is the first step in answering the question, "What's wrong with racing, how do we fix it, and how do we market it?". The more available information becomes on horses and their health, the better decisions we can make about what will benefit everyone-- humans and horses. The only people who will not benefit are those that would manipulate, deceive, and actively practice animal cruelty through the secret use of drugs to push horses on the track who do not belong there--all in the name of profit.
Veterinarians who oppose this suggested rule should examine their own motives. Stephen Selway‘s claim in the NY Times that time and paperwork would be wasted on the measure, as well as the AAEPs statement that what medications are administered to racehorses is privileged information are both highly absurd!
Personally, I am disappointed that those who supposedly have dedicated their lives to the care of animals are more concerned about protecting private revenue streams than improving conditions for the horses that make their jobs possible. How many drugs are being administered, and in what possible combination and frequency, that it will take "hundreds of thousands of hours" to record by veterinarians? Just because the state isn’t testing for a drug yet, doesn’t mean that its use is ethical, in the best interest of the horses, their caretakers, or the public, let alone that it isn't in their right to know. Personally, I have 30 years of detailed medical bills that veterinarians were never too short on time to send.
The implementation of this new rule will make life better for racehorses and the people who work with them. If you really care about the future of racing and the welfare of horses I encourage you to sign this petition. Click here to read and sign.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
It's hard to believe we are over a month past the close of Saratoga’s glorious race meet, and the Breeder’s Cup is just 3 weeks away! Even more unbelievable is the approach of 2010, a new year of possibilities. As a child these time frames seem an eternity, now they are simply too short. Not long ago, I remember James Taylor at SPAC saying, “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time". I find it more precious with every passing day, with every passing meet at the Spa another year has come and gone forever. PICTURED: SUSAN KAYNE, TURF WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE MIKE WELSCH, MEGA OWNER ARON YAGODA
2009 has been a challenging year on the farm; I have added 10 new horses to the Unbridled herd and personally facilitated four rescues from Paragallo, all in a very slow economy--though you’d never suspect any economic woes if you visited Saratoga this year! I spent many mornings at the rail watching a fantastic spectrum of horses, from first-timers setting an auspicious foot on the track, to seeing the magnificence of Rachel Alexandra cut through the thick fog like a goddess of old. Ever my favorite time at the track, the magic of early morning and its bustling activity never fades: with the dawn of each new day, our hopes and dreams are renewed. We are not returning from a race we didn’t win, spending hours in the spit box after rising at 4AM, or carrying any other disappointment from expectations gone unmet. We are fresh and we are hopeful. This season I had the pleasure of meeting new owners for the first time, catching up with old friends and gathering with seasoned partners; together we cajoled, star gazed, improved our “eyes”, expanded our knowledge, and confirmed that we were on the right track with UR Stable. PICTURED: UR GIRLS & LEGENDARY JOCKEY ANGEL CORDERO JR.
Something about the Spa brings out the best in every horse and every person -- the water, the air, the camaraderie – and yet is the most competitive race meet on the planet. Year after year, horses, trainers, and jockeys grind it out in the afternoon, alchemizing even the most ordinary race into a spectacular run; on Rachel’s day, an allowance race went faster than the Grade One Forego ---the fractions were blistering start to finish – it just wasn’t fair for the horses who really fit the condition.
PICTURED LEFT: MICHELLE NIHEI IN PADDOCK WITH INKADO
PICTURED RIGHT: PYRO BACK AT THE BARN AFTER WINNING THE FOREGO - CLICK PICTURE TO WATCH RACE
Rachel’s Woodward Day ... was a joyous celebration about all things good in horseracing. Finally, a breather from the dogged press, “racing is dead”. I can assure you it was not only alive and well on the day she beat the boys, but it sparked the electric anticipation of future owners and and track goers for years to come. PICTURED: RACHEL ALEXANDRA VICTORIOUS IN THE WOODWARD STAKES SEPTEMBER 5, 2009 AT SARATOGA - CLICK PICTURE TO SEE RACE
LINDA's dream meet...
To commemorate Linda’s amazing accomplishment, I am producing a special limited edition DVD featuring the best of Linda Unbridled. In addition to in-depth interviews with Linda, the compilation includes interviews with her uber-horseman father, Clyde Rice, a conformation segment on exactly what Linda looks for when selecting racing prospects, and talks with runner-up trainers, Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott. Click here to order.
PICTURED ABOVE: LINDA RICE IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE AGAIN!
PICTURED RIGHT: BILL MOTT WON 18 RACES AT THE SPA IN 2009 TO FINISH THIRD IN THE TRAINER STANDINGS -- CLICK ON BILL TO WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH HIM
With another year to come before the Spa opens its gates again to the roar of thoroughbreds coming down the stretch, now is an excellent time to learn from its most recently successful trainers.
MARK UR 2010 CALENDARS
SARATOGA RACE MEET
JULY 23 - SEPTEMBER 6
To get even more involved with all aspects thoroughbred, check out my free series of Hands On Tip articles at Squidoo, which offer some perspective on breeding, training, and the basics of HOOFCARE.
Equine education is an excellent first step to get your racing dream up and running!
Did you go to Saratoga this season? What was your best/worst day and why? If you have a moment please share your horseracing experiences at the Spa in the comments box below.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Over the years, I have formulated my own strategy for thoroughbred ownership based on what I observed to be successful, in the best interest of the horse, and fair for everyone involved. As I have spoken and written about many times and will continue to advocate for, conscientious breeding is the keystone in any champion's career. Big, strong, solid thoroughbreds last over time, are consistent, and make excellent bloodstock. Quality horses come from careful selection, and for me this is best realized in home-breds, rather than at auction or in claiming races. This is not to say that there aren't some great horses through those avenues, but to me, the degree of care is never quite the same as in a horse that has been cultivated to succeed from the womb. Home-breds are also better for the breed as a whole; the ubiquitous nature of auctions and claiming races perpetuate the idea that thoroughbreds are disposable, and that it is acceptable to simply sell to whomever wants to buy. In reality, this is the kind of attitude that weakens bloodlines through constant breeding in the haphazard hope of a profit, and sends many horses that could be adapted to another sport straight to the slaughterhouse. This is also where management comes in--a good manager is educated enough to place a horse where he or she can win, not where the horse will flounder and be considered an unworthy investment. Often the best test of character for a manager is whether or not administrative fees are taken from partners; a quality manager will benefit only when the partnership does, because he or she is confident in the decisions being made.
When comes to the concept of a "win" in ownership, the industry needs a more holistic definition. A win is not the achievement of one race, but the deliberate choices that comprise a long and healthy career. Surrounding yourself with others in your partnership and training stable who are excited about horses, realistic in their expectations, and educated in their actions is also part of accomplishing a win.
Monday, August 3, 2009
My personal philosophy is to conscientiously breed the most correct and durable thoroughbreds possible, because longevity creates ethical profit. (Pictured left: Austin Runner and 2009 Ten Most Wanted colt)
However, on the business side of horse-racing, most owners are looking for a quick turnover on their investment. Rather than truly loving the horse or genuinely respecting the sport they inbreed for speed producing fast, fragile-boned babies giving no thought to their future or the reliability of any offspring they might produce. This is not to say that being business-oriented implies carelessness in the industry--on the contrary, breeding big, solid, sound horses will ultimately reward the owner far and above both financially and ethically than any one-race wonder ever could. Without strength and soundness, a horse will not likely make it past its 3 y.o. year, and miss out on the many opportunities older horses have in their division to win large stakes race purses.
On international tracks, it is much more common to see 5 and 6 y.o. thoroughbreds who have been bred and raised to acclimate to the pressures of racing through strong bone structure, size, and correct conformation. However in American racing, all too often young horses are retired from racing after one big win for the sake of recouping expenses in the short-term.
What does this all mean for the thoroughbred? The best scenarios are all too rare; many beautiful animals that worked tirelessly for their owners are simply led to slaughter when there is no profit to be made from them. A perfect example of this kind of brutality is the recent tragedy caused by owner Ernie Paragallo, who allowed the starvation and neglect of 177 thoroughbreds, many of which were valuable, prize-winning horses in recent years, on his New York farm.
To me, the real question is, how many horses have been neglected or slaughtered that don't make it to the news?
As a part of the industry, I am appalled at the trend of these kind of practices. This is why I approach breeding, owning, and managing racehorses with the greatest degree of care and humane treatment as possible, and this process begins with pedigree. A legacy of successful lineage is of course, the best place to start when getting involved with breeding, but taking a hard look at the physique and attitude of a potential stud is also important.
Without practically flawless conformation, I personally will not consider breeding to any thoroughbred no matter what the hype is surrounding him. He needs to be big, durable, and sound of body and mind like millionaire Wild Desert pictured winning Canada's greatest race the Queen's Plate in 2005. I am not looking for a baby who might win a race or two early in his career, but rather, an athlete made for endurance and stamina that will provide consistency I can bank on over time.
Broodmares should also be selected with lineage and conformation in mind, and if timing allows, taking a look at her skills as mother is helpful. Some mares are more attentive and protective than others, so choosing one with intelligence, a good attitude, and excellent care for her babies is practically like buying another form of insurance on your potential foal.
If and when you decide to get involved with the exciting process of thoroughbred breeding, think about the future of the horse you aim to bring into the world. Protect that future by making smart decisions about pedigree that will carry your colt or filly firmly through his or her career and beyond. It will prove rewarding in every sense!
Things to Remember:
-- After studying up on the lineage of potential mates for your mare and the history of their careers, take visits to as many farms as necessary to really get a solid grasp on what your options are; looking at conformation and attitude should be critical in finalizing your decision!
--Take a stand on humane measures within the industry by being an example. The higher the quality and durability of the thoroughbreds you produce, the more you are advocating for positive change. Overpopulation benefits no horse and no person within racing, so choose wisely and carefully.
This formula has served us well and I am sure you will find it beneficial too so get yourself to the rail and study the great horses at Saratoga this season -- Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird and Summer Bird to name a few....
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
MEMO TO: President Barack Obama
RE: Economic Recovery Stimulus
Mr. President, it has come to my attention that you're having some challenges with the economy. If I understand things correctly, we're in a recession, consumer confidence and spending is down, credit is tight, investors are spooked, we need renewable energy, and health care costs are through the roof. Trillions of dollars, not to mention our future, are at stake. Mr. President, I'm just a regular citizen, but I think I have a solution.
Give every American a horse.My proposal may not make sense to you at first,20but let me give you a little background. First of all, horses in the U.S. are a multi-billion dollar industry, and that’s just at my house. I suggest you have your economic advisors do a little research on the spending around horse ownership. You'd be surprised, Mr. President. Start by visiting the tack and clothing retailers like State Line or Dover . Look at the variety of goods available there. Now take into account that every horse owner, especially if it’s a woman, is buying not just one or two, but tons of these items. Believe me.
So my thinking is that if you give every American a horse, starting when they reach the horse-receptive age of 10, you're going to do two things: boost consumer confidence and boost spending immediately.
Horses make us feel good, and once Americans all own horses (at the government’s expense, of course), they will all logically fall into the pattern that every horse owner succumbs to: accessorizing. For starters, we need horse-care implements like buckets and muck rakes, hoof picks and curry combs. And we need at least basic tack, halter, leadline, saddle, saddle pad, bridle and bit. But then the fun begins. Zebra print leg wraps. Neon bright fly masks. An assortment of sheets and blankets for all seasons; you've got your cooler, your lightweight blanket, your medium blanket, your heavy blanket. Then there is your stable sheet and your pasture sheet. Also your hoodie, and tail wrap items.And that’s just the clothing for the horse. Don't get me started on the clothing for the rider, even if he or she doesn't show. Since most Americans don't have a basic riding wardrobe, the stores would be swamped for jeans, boots, breeches, T-shirts, dozens of pairs of cute boot socks, and the ubiquitous ball cap. Tell the retailers to get ready. It'll be Christmas all year long.
Now let's talk about support industries. In addition to the usual veterinarian and farrier expenditures, people also give their horses chiropractic, massage and acupuncture, not to mention buying more beauty products for their horses than they do for themselves. All those professions and industries will benefit. And of course there will be a big spike in hay and grain demand, so the farmers will be happy too.You see, that’s the secret to jump-starting consumer spending through my stimulus package. People will spend money on their horses when they won't spend money on anything else.
But, your advisors might say, theres a catch. Aren't we paying the price, in global warming, of the large number of livestock animals we currently have? They produce all that methane!Ah, Mr. President, here is the real beauty of this idea. When you introduce the Methane-Assisted Natural Unrefined Renewable Energy plan (M.A.N.U.R.E.), you'll be a hero for coming up with an alternative, renewable, home-grown source of clean energy. Just challenge the energy gurus to come up with a methane gas collectio system that can harness all the natural resource produced by all those horses to power our cities. Talk about shovel ready projects: M.A.N.U.R.E. fits the bill! And you keep stressing how we need new industries for investment; well, under the M.A.N.U.R.E. plan you can sell Petroleum Offset Opportunity units to investors. By buying these units, investors can help us gradually convert from a petroleum-based economy to one based on horse P.O.O.Health care costs will go down, too, as everyone cares for their horses. You can give tax credits based on the amount of time people spend working, riding and hanging out with their horses, which will automatically make them healthier. (Don't tell the docs, but most horse owners already get their own basic healthcare from their vet.)
One more thing: everyone is annoyed by these corporate CEOs and their big bonuses in a down economy. So give the executives, say, one horse for every $100,000 of bonus money they've received. Those bonuses will be plowed back into the economy in no time.
Finally, because you, Mrs. O, and the girls are such role models, you can encourage us all by getting a pony for Sasha and Malia. It will teach them responsibility, help the First Lady plow the garden, and as a bonus: free fertilizer for the Rose Garden. If you don't believe me that horse ownership stimulates spending, go ahead, Mr. President. Buy that pony for your girls... You’ll see.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Race Horse Scouting in Argentina
Thursday, May 7, 2009
UR Horses In The News ... Susan Campriello wrote an update in The Daily Mail on the Center Brook Horses that have been adopted. Our new girls were featured in the article, pictured below Queen Burger and Fine Behind happily grazing on UR Farm ...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
OK, I am officially declaring my Derby choice ~ the delectably delicious CHOCOLATE CANDY. The reasoning ... the Derby is presented by Yum! Brands and we all know Chocolate Candy is yummy! He is out of a mare by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and his 2nd dam sired by Alydar is a half-sister to Triple Crown winner Affirmed. He is owned by a really cool lady, business guru Jenny Craig and and most importantly he is the baby of a real modern day love story ...
Bred by Sid & Jenny Craig, Chocolate Candy's current success is particularly poignant as the colt is by one of the Craigs' top runners, Candy Ride (Arg), who captured the 2003 Pacific Classic (G1) and retired undefeated. Sid Craig loved horse racing ---- he died last summer during the racing season at the Del Mar racetrack, his favorite time of year ---- and the one thing he wanted to do most in the game was win the first leg of the sport's Triple Crown races.
"We saw the movie 'The Bucket List' together," Jenny Craig said, "and afterwards I asked him if there was anything he hadn't done that he really would like to do, and he said, 'Yes. Win the Kentucky Derby.'
This isn't the Craigs' first foray into the Kentucky Derby; they have owned three previous Derby entries. The couple enjoyed a unique Derby experience in 1992 when Jenny purchased English Group 1 star Dr Devious (Ire) for $2.5 million for her husband's 60th birthday, with a view toward winning the Kentucky Derby (G1). Unfortunately, he finished seventh in the Run for the Roses, but he returned to England to capture the Epsom Derby (Eng-G1).
In her 2004 autobiography, “The Jenny Craig Story: How One Woman Changes Millions of Lives,” Jenny offered the following portrait of her husband: “Sid … has the charisma of a Jack Kennedy, the intelligence of an Alan Greenspan, the creative mind of a Steven Spielberg, and the humor of a Jackie Mason, along with the good looks of a Clark Gable.”
To date, CHOCOLATE CANDY is Craig's best contender to capture the roses, "I have a lot of people that are pulling for Chocolate Candy to win. If that means anything, then we have a good shot. This has been a very emotional ride. It's bittersweet because I'm thrilled we're getting the opportunity to run in the Derby, but I truly wish Sid was here... It was his dream."
Source: North Country Times & KentuckyDerby.com
UR new crop of foals carries our own rosey dreams for a Derby win too. This year's colts are rich with the blood of many Derby winners; Unbridled 1990, SEATTLE SLEW 1977, WHIRLAWAY 1941, Fusaichi Pegasus 2000, Dust Commander 1970, Nothern Dancer 1964 and War Admiral 1937.
Unbridled's grandson (pictured) is beginning a tale of his own ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
As the dawn of a glorious new day came forth so did the sad news of oppressed thoroughbreds located just 20 minutes from stall in which I had just experienced such joy. Center Brook Farm in Climax, NY had been raided by the State Police and its 177 horses were now in the care and custody of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society.
Like many a viewer, I was horrified by the pictures of very skinny, mangey, muddy horses and simultaneously daunted at knowing the responsibility that would fall upon caretakers in providing for these animals.
CGHS needs cash donations and the horses is need safe appropriate homes. With all my heart I am asking every reader, fan, partner & friend, every horse lover, and every racing aficionado to please give, every donation makes a difference, in some cases between life and death. Please help the CGHS help the horses -- the same equine that we make a living from and the same equine that bring us joy unmeasured.
Monday, April 6, 2009
This is a wonderful account of Unbridled's racing career complete with video's of Unbridled's important stakes wins and the most precious moment in racing which inspires me every day -- Carl Nafzger's call of the Derby stretch run to Mrs. Genter.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
“The horse is an archetypal symbol which will always find ways to stir up deep and moving ancestral memories in every human being.” ~ Paul Mellon
Paul Mellon KBE was an American philanthropist, thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder. He is one of only four people ever designated "Exemplars of Racing" by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was co-heir to one of America's greatest business fortunes, created by his grandfather Thomas Mellon, his father Andrew W. Mellon, and his father's brother Richard B. Mellon. In 1957, when Fortune prepared its first list of the wealthiest Americans, it estimated that Paul Mellon, his sister Ailsa Mellon-Bruce, and his cousins Sarah Mellon and Richard King Mellon, were all amongst the richest eight people in the United States, with fortunes of between 400 and 700 million dollars each.*
But, more importantly, Paul Mellon is the Breeder of Dark of The Moon, the mother of "Clint" Eastwood...
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
To many, thoroughbreds are a commodity, worth only what they can win. They are raised in luxury and kept better then most people live until they falter. It is then that too many are discarded in disgust because they weren’t fast enough or weren’t sound enough. Perhaps they should have never been bred in the first place; perhaps they didn’t receive the right nutrition or their parents were poorly matched. Whatever the reason, remember, the horse didn’t ask to come into this world or be placed in the service of racing.
Along with the privilege of breeding thoroughbreds is, or at the very least should be, the very daunting realization of the moral responsibility that comes with bringing a life into this world to ultimately serve human pleasures. In and of itself this obligates those of with a conscience to plan for the care and well-being of this magnificent animal throughout its time with us here on earth; anything short of that is simply unconscionable and represents totally irresponsible breeding.
To thee, my master, I offer my prayer.Feed me, water and care for me, and when the day’s work is done,provide me with shelter, a clean, dry bed and stall wide enough for me to lie down in comfort.
Always be kind to me.Your voice means as much to me as the reins.Pet me, that I may serve you the more gladly and learn to love you. Do not jerk on the reins, and do not whip me. Never strike, beat or kick me when I do not understand what you want, but give me a chance to understand you. Watch me, and if I fail to do of your asking, see if something is wrong with my bridle, saddle or feet.
Do not restrict me that I cannot have free use of my head. If you insist that I wear blinkers, so that I cannot see behind me as it was intended I should, I pray you be careful that the blinkers stand well out from eyes.
Do not overload me, or hitch me where water will drip on me. Keep me well shod. Examine my teeth when I do not eat; I may have a bad tooth, and that you know, is very painful. Do not tie my head so I cannot see, or take away my tail: it is my only defense against flies and bugs.
I try to carry you without a murmur, and wait patiently for you long hours of the day or night. Without the power to choose my shoes or path, I sometimes stumble on hard ground, please give me safe and sure footing, and keep me properly shod. Remember, I must be ready at any moment to lose my life in your service.
And finally, My Master, when my useful strength is gone, do not turn me out to starve or sell me to some cruel owner only to be slowly tortured and starved to death, but do thou My Master, take my life in the kindest way remembering I gave you my best years. Do this and your God will reward you here and hereafter. Please do not consider me irreverent by asking this in the name of Him who was born in a stable.
~ Author Unknown