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Voices From Cyberspace

Welcome to "Voices," our popular online public forum where horsemen and horsewomen are able to share their thoughts and concerns about the important issues facing the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in the Western Region of the United States. All opinions are welcome, and we value yours!

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Entries after August 2008.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Our Northern California sale certainly emphasized the state of the industry. Way more horses than demand as the blue collar owners fade from the industry and we seem to be heading for a literal return to the "Sport of Kings". A lot of the RNA's were not that bad, just no buyers for that category as the soaring costs to maintain a race horse continue.
     As a transporter I noticed an alarming trend starting about 5 years ago. In 2003 my breeding clients sent 32 mares to be bred.  Since then the yearly total has dropped drastically each year. These were all breeders who ran their produce.  This year I moved 3 mares and gave a couple others to my friendly competitors.  I haven't lost these clients, they just stopped breeding. Since I am just a little outfit I can only guess as to the dropping numbers of the bigger van companies. As this trend continues I expect in the next few years or so we will see it drastically show up at the entry box. With already too short fields offered we will soon be down to even smaller fields and cards. 
     Of course as this process continues and the shortage of horses grows we might see a rise in prices and people will once again start breeding to meet the demand.  Hopefully they will breed a better quality animal or we will find ourselves back in the same vicious cycle.
     I agree 100% with Bomber (Tom Doutrich), shortening  our racing calendar is a must as the industry struggles and tries to regroup. All the promotion in the world will be wasted if when the newcomers arrive they continue to be subjected to 4 and 5 horse fields.
     It is so frustrating to watch our leaders try to close the barn door after the horse has escaped.--August 28. 9:31 a.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I just read the sale results for the Northern Cal sale, and I think Don's fears were reached.
     When the horse with the highest bid does not sell you know you are in trouble.
          --43% buybacks
          --sale ave. down by 18%
          --median price down by 57%
    Not a real healthy market.
    We have a sale in Ruidoso coming up this weekend and I'll let you know how it does.--Aaugust 27. 2:19 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I got a kick out of the Editor's Notebook dated August 24.
     Most of you know that the major part of my adult life has been in the field of equine production.
     I never heard the term"calcified cervix" before, but if one was inexperienced in palpating and viewing the cervix of a mare I can imagine where it came from. Perhaps the mare wasn't far enough along at the time of the exam, since this is before ultrasound, where the pregnancy could be determined. The cervix of an early pregnant mare feels a lot different than one that is not pregnant. It sits higher off the vaginal floor, is longer with more tone, feeling harder, has a very smoothed over glassy look. This is probably where he came up with the term "calcified cervix".
     Mistakes do happen! We had a mare that we tried all year to breed to one of our own stallions at the ranch. Later our vet pronounced her as open. I turned her out with a few dry mares and pulled her weight down, She then was started under lights around the 15th of November. 
     I didn't start to tease them until the 1st of January in preparation of the coming breeding season. She never showed much more than just an occasional interest in the stallion. We shipped her from Idaho to Oklahoma to be bred to a stallion there, and I included with her papers a copy of her teasing records and explained that she had not had a good cycle as yet.
     After they had teased her for about 3 weeks they decided to palpate her and they discovered that she was in foal. My boss was upset and said that he was really embarrassed.  Being one that was always looking for better statistics, I said, not me, it just boosted my percentage of in foal mares a bit. Not what he really wanted to hear at that time.
  Anyway they shipped her back to Idaho where we was going to foal her out, but he decided to ship her to California. and have her bred to a stallion there. 
     I later calculated that she traveled about 4,000 miles to get in foal for the next year.--August 25. 8:33 p.m.

     Kyndle Fischer, Bakersfield, CA: Interesting point Mr. Baker brings. The Bat Signal did win a Maiden Claiming, albeit in a very slow time, and Triumphant Flight has had some early success (Stakes placed in a restricted event) I would hardly jump to the conclusion that he is the best (or one of) Cal Bred 2yo's this year. 
     You must realize that Triumphant Flight is not out of a blank page as Hip. No 82 is, but out of a stakes winning California Broodmare of the year who is the dam of 3 stakes winners (and 1 stakes placed) from 8 foals to race. That might have contributed a little??? 
     In any case, that information is irrelevant to the subject at hand, because all of that happened AFTER the horses were selected on pedigree, and AFTER they were inspected. Therfore having no bearing in the selection of Hip. No. 82. I find the situation even more interesting now. 
     The "selection" process seems very subjective. What are the pedigree requirements? There are pedigree requirements, I have had horses in the past not pass the pedigree selection, so what are they? I would like to see a code of ethics on the selection process so this obvious partiality can be ruled out.--August 25. 3:22 p.m.

     Erma Schultz, Bullhead City, AZ: Sad but true. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Baker speaking for Barretts.
     Given the selection process in place, I agree that the pedigree of Hip 82 is absolutely representative of a "competitive" select California Barretts sale offering. That's what Barretts endorses, and I am not going to challenge such eminently keen judgment. I just wish we could somehow hide the fact that this is what we endorse as select California "competitive", from other thoroughbred producing jurisdictions. 
     Prospective owners in other states are looking (and with Mr. Baker's comment, they are now hearing) that this is California select. However, it's not likely they will be avid buyers.
     Nevertheless, I laud Mr. Baker for valiantly coming forward to place Barretts' imprimatur on such stock.--August 25. 2:01 p.m.

     Bill Baker, Executive Vice-President, Barretts Equine, Ltd., Pomona, CA: The first definition in Webster's dictionary for the word select is "chosen from a number or group by fitness or preference."  Funny, they don't mention anything about black type.
     Nominations to the 2008 Fall Yearling Sale were down about 9% this year as compared to last year, yet we accepted 26% fewer horses in an attempt to sustain the quality of this year's catalog in light of current economic conditions. 
     I would estimate that more than 80% of the yearlings nominated to the Fall Sale would be cataloged in the last two (of 8) books at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.  Therefore, we can not use the same cataloging standards for the California Selected sale as they do for Selected sales in Kentucky.  At our Fall Yearling Sale, conformation is at least as, and probably more, important than black type. 
     As regards to Hip 82: (1) Chullo is the sire of one of, if not the, best Cal-Bred 2-year-old colts this year (Triumphant Flight), (2) High Flying Honor is the dam of only two foals.her first foal, The Bat Signal, has already won for open M$80,000 this year at 2 in only two starts on the toughest racing circuit in California (Del Mar). For all of our auctions, we are looking for correct, athletic horses that have pedigrees that would indicate that the horse would be competitive in California. 
     This filly certainly fits.--August 25.12:03 p.m.

     Erma Schultz, Bullhead City, AZ: Regarding Kyndle Fischer's observation on Hip 82 in the "select" sale; you don't have to be a pedigree expert to promptly determine that this yearling was "given a wink and a pedigree pass" or, the evaluator(s) don't know what they are doing. Hopefully, it is the former rather than the latter or both.
     So long as CTBA is involved and remains as blatantly political and preferential as it has always been, these very regular "anomalies" will continue. Barrett's should be concerned however, as it is its' long term reputation that will inevitably suffer from the continuation of this embarrassing California sham. 
     California is not a place to find a legitimate inventory of truly select horses. The pages of the 'select' catalog tell the story quite effectively. Unfortunately, hard working breeders such as Kyndle pay the price for a CTBA with such an affection for politics and "back-scratching," that all good efforts are inconsequential.
     Market breeders are well advised to look elsewhere. Again, just look at the catalog. Hip 82 is atrocious, but there are many, many others. As Kyndle Fischer points out, the message certainly can't be clearer. August 24. 2;26 P.M.

     Kyndle Fischer, Bakersfield, CA: Sorry to take this discussion off topic, but I have a filly selling at the Norcal sale, who did not get into the Barretts select sale. She is correct, decent sized, and a nice looking individual. She is by a G-1 winner, out of a female family with 3 G-1 winners and 2 graded winners on her catalog page through her 3rd dam. She scored a 3, and I was told she must score a 3.5 to get in. 
     I was not pleased to be going to Norcal (I have sold there in the past) and obviously would rather sell at Barretts due to Averages, and the fact that I am in So. Cal. I was looking over the Barretts select sale catalog, and was shocked to see Hip No. 82 made the sale. 
     How did this horse even pass the pedigree? I don't care how nice it may look, it's pedigree is not a select sale pedigree. Period. Out of 5 crops to race, Chullo has had 70 foals, 40 starters, and only 15 winners for paltry $568,692 in earnings. The majority of that from 3 starters. He was such a failure at stud, that he no longer stands in N.A. Hip no. 82 is as bad on her bottom side, with no black type until her 3rd dam, who produced a "stakes winner" (he managed to win one $15,000 listed stakes at Suffolk Downs). 
     To get a horse that produced a REAL stakes winner out of this family, you would have to go down to the 5th dam, born in 1958. You would be hard pressed to find a worse page in the Norcal sale. If this horse (just the best example, but there are others), who should not have even been inspected in the first place, were not in the sale I feel my filly would be selling at Barretts where the Avg. last year was $19,938 as opposed to $5,839 average at the 2007 Norcal sale. That is a projected loss of $14,099. 
     I am just wondering what "Select" means anymore? Unless there are some reasonable rules to the selection process, I will take my horses and leave the state. Things aren't going good in California to begin with, we don't need a lack of ethics from the inside making it worse. I will update with sales prices as soon as they become available, but I have to say I can't help but feel cheated.--August 23. 4:21 p.m. 

     Don Sandri, Hayward, CA: The latest revelation on the use of Steroids in California Racing pretty much confirms, for me, its benefits as a performance booster.
     The Thoroughbred Times reported a few days ago that 38 steroid positives were discovered on tests taken during the current "Grace Period" for trainers running horses at California racetracks. Twenty-eight of the 38 positives come from the number one and two winning trainers at the current Del Mar race meet. 
     If the top two winning trainers at the current Del Mar meet account for over 70% of the steroid positives, I think it's pretty conclusive that the drug enhances performance and provides an advantage over those not using the drug regardless of horsemanship or trainer ability. 
     What John Sadler and Mike Mitchell did was expose a loophole, take advantage and effectively get away with competitive murder.
     Hopefully the playing field will be leveled more fairly in September when the use of steroids will be banned with penalty.--August 23. 7:10 a.m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: In regards to nicking and the belief in the infallibility of a computer printout, I think the real issue is the information being fed into the computer that provides the printout. 
     Since the female line is ignored in the input the print out contains incomplete information. Unless of course you believe the female line provides no contribution to the foal. I'm not sure how anyone can ignore those contributions but obviously they do as there is a lot of money being wasted by a large sector of the industry.
      On one hand the buyers want a pedigree laden with black type and they now want an A nick which ignores the bottom line. But I do marvel at what a cash cow this faulty premise has turned out to be.--August 16. 8:36 p. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: As long as we're on the subject of nicking, how come nobody ever raises the subject of possible fraud? Can you believe that someone with a potentially high-priced yearling wouldn't be ready to pay a nice bribe for a nicking provider to produce a nice A+++ rating?
     Nobody can ever know, but I do think someone ought to at least suspect that it happens.--August 16. 3:09 p.m.

     Hans Wildenstein, Long Beach, CA: I cannot avoid seeing the parallels between nicking [Editor's Notebook, August 15] and religion.
     Faith is the essential element of both. One is belief in God and the other is belief in The Computer. I will grant the existence of God. The existence of The Computer is unquestionable. So we can move beyond that aspect of the comparison.
     In both cases, there is a belief in the infallibility of the deity. The word of God is The Bible. The word of The Computer is The Printout.
     Each has a hierarchy. Religion has priests, pastors, imams, and countless other entities who assist in conveying the word of God to believers. Nicking has its numerous providers and facilitators. In both cases, believers provide financial or other subsidies to the priesthood..
     The motivation that makes both immune to skepticism, argument or attack is the need to believe. A person with that need is beyond the reach of reason.--August 14. 4:38 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Some time back I thought it would be nice if we could all get together during the Northern California sale. Some responded to that in the affirmative. Now it seems that I will not be able to make it.
     Shirley and I are going to Glacier National Park for two weeks and will miss the sale. But.......
     Guess what? August 6 a friend and myself were on our way back from a QH sale in Pomona and a fellow horseman from Kennewick had us stop in Sanger and bring his mare and foal home. 
     She was at Peach Tree Farms, operated by JoAnn Parker, daughter of Joe Parker who served as a president of CTBA. We had a nice visit with her. The mare and foal were in excellent condition, and, I might add, so were the peaches. Some of the biggest I've ever seen. It is really a nice farm!
    Anyway, have a good time at the sale and may it be a success.--August 8. 5:33 p.m.

     Marvin Mace, Beverly Hills, CA: I understand Mr. Gonzalez' frustration, but the comparison of California stallion and farm owners with those in Kentucky is inappropriate. The Kentucky operations are run by professionals whose families have been in the business for generations. Their California counterparts are almost all neophytes who enter the business, lose a great deal of money, and move out, to be replaced by others like them, if they are replaced at all.
     California is not Kentucky. If Mr. Gonzalez wants things to be done as they are in Kentucky, he will have to move to Kentucky.--August 7. 8:04 a.m.

     Adrian Gonzalez, Paso Robles CA: I have been breeding horses in both CA and KY for many years. I primarily breed to sell and I would consider my breeding program to be quite successful.
     I understand that the industry in KY is very different than in CA in many aspects but one thing that seems to stand out to me is that here in CA the breeding farms don't really support the breeders. In KY, I see very often farms purchasing yearlings by the stallions they stand. I guess either they think this helps the breeders or it helps promote their stallion, but either way it sure doesn't hurt anyone. 
     I have been looking at past sales results over the last few years in CA and it seems only a few stallion owners are purchasing stock by their own studs. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but these studs are also the most successful at the sales and command the highest breeding fees. I keep hearing from farm managers of how they are struggling to find breeders to support them. Maybe they should think of ways to help support their breeders. 
     What's worse, they tend to run pregnant mares through these sales and let them go for less than half the advertised breeding fee. Since they didn't have to pay a stud fee they seem to think this is a good way to cull their mares, but it hurts everyone else who is trying to sell a foal or mare in foal. 
     What's going on here?--August 6. 9:01 p.m.

     Julie Pierson, San Rafael, CA: That Warren operation was doomed from the start. They were on a mission to have a horse in the Kentucky Derby, buying mares and stallions that had a Derby winner in the pedigree even if they had nothing else. 
     And I guess they thought the more horses you breed the better chance you have to win the Derby. 
     If Barretts was going to cost too much, why didn't they put on their own sale with the upset price at $1,000 to keep the slaughter trucks away? Let's hope their other 500 head get good homes. 
     Besides, who in California in their right mind would have that many horses nowadays? OMG!!!!!!--August 5. 9:40 a.m.

     Ginny Johnston, Tularosa, NM: Everyone please send Tranquility Farm $100 today. If 100 do it, that is $10,000 towards rescuing the horses in Arizona that Ben Warren thought were going to good homes. 
     I sent my money today. I am trying to get help to get some of the mares to New Mexico. In the meantime, those horses deserve a better fate than slaughter in Mexico. Read the Editor's note today. It is an eye opener. This is why it should be mandatory for owners to contribute to CARMA and for the Jockey Club to assess $50 for every horse registered. For those of us who care, we may be penalized, but we have to help the horses who fall into dishonest hands. They give us everything, we owe them dignity and life.
     Please help save these horses.--August 4. 6:11 p.m.

     Sally Reid, Grants Pass, OR: I have been following the "rescue & retirement" for racehorses and have made several observations.
     Number one is most don't consider horses to be livestock...they are. Most consider them to have a conscience and reasoning powers...they don't. The list could go on, however the point is they are animals and we are their stewards. 
     To go back briefly...as a kid when my family was coming apart, my horses were there for me...as a young adult, they taught me partnership and now as an "old lady" I have learned their most important lesson...Mutual respect and now I am their steward.
     I have raced since l981....does that make me smarter...no, it just make me older! I understand the economics of the business...hay now is $250 ton laid in from Klamath Falls... oats are $480. ton...shoers get $35. for trims & $80 for shoes (this is on the farm prices!!) and  the vet bills must be kept to a minimum! Young horses to trainers  for 120 days minimum...out of sight! 
     So when I have old, barren mares I don't try to put cost on someone else. I have them euthanized and buried on the ranch. When I have mares that haven't produced quality stock, the same fate if I cant find a suitable home. For the young horses I try to put in the solid basic training of skills that can be transferred to other activities besides racing...that takes more  than the 60 days of  the "turn & burn" mentality...so when they  aren't competitive racehorses they can rely on the early skills to transfer to other activities. 
     The "famous" horses end up on retirement farms with their monthly stipends...what about the vast majority of the others who raced at fairs, leaky roof tracks and never lit the board at the better tracks? Don't they deserve "equal" consideration? Owners are the first in line to make the hard decisions and we are their final stewards.--August 1. 2:10 p.m.

     Erma Schultz, Bullhead City, AZ: Properly defined, a bet is "risking anything of value on the outcome of an uncertain event." The range of activities that fall within that particular definition run from the two dollar bettor on the 8th at Saratoga to George Washington taking command of the Continental Army against the forces of George III. 
     Contemporary politicians often hide their true agendas and taxation intentions for example,by characterizing their policies as "investments." The word "investment" itself suggests that something cerebral and legitimate is involved. When politicians say we need to "invest in our families" or "invest in our communities", they know they are somewhat sheltered from logical counterattacks because investing dollars in families and communities appears to be reasonable (and also, where the dollars are taken from, becomes a secondary issue). Whenever a politician says the word "invest", I see a red flag waving.
     The stock, currency, futures and commodities markets are betting venues to be sure, but the word "investment" has taken on a higher and a more socially "acceptable" context and content, than the word "bet." This has not been lost on those who seek to mask what they are about, whether they be on Wall Street or 3600 Pennsylvania Ave.--August 1. 9:37 a.m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: .Mack, Thanks for bringing up that specific info. from the CHRB web site. That is very interesting, and almost worthy of a T.V. detective show.
      Regarding the Editor's Notebook dated July 30, 2008. I confess that I have placed bets over the last 30+ years, but I do not consider myself a slob. I read the past performance charts looking for talent in horses, and I compare all other  factors in the race to formalize a possible outcome. 
     Sometimes, I am amazed at some horses such as Norway House. He runs in lower-level claiming races. His record: 45 starts, 10 wins, 11 seconds and 5 shows. He has won my respect as a hard working horse & I will do my best to offer his people help with him when his racing days are over. 
     Because of horse like Norway House, I donate a generous portion of my track winnings to various Thoroughbred  Retirement & rescue operations. It's my handicapping helping horses. If I win big, so do the horses. If you see me place a bet, please don't call me a slob. I'd love to challenge other handicappers to do the same. Thanks, and there they go....--July 31. 9:42 a.m.

     Gretchen Graves and Janet Griffin, Bangtail Farm, Mad River, CA: We retire and take care of our old broodmares.  On occasion we have to race one of our own. Usually we send them to a saddle horse trainer and place them after their careers are over.  Mainly our horses are out there racing for others.  As a small token of our support for CARMA we are going to start in August donating $10. month.  Not much but maybe other breeders would like help CARMA in a small way too.--July 31. 9:15 a.m.

     Mack Hollaby, Los Angeles: I was just looking at the stewards' rulings on the CHRB website and looked up Rule No. 1530. 
     It's headed "Cases Not Covered by Rules and Regulations." Here's what it says: "Should any case occur which may not be covered by the Rules and Regulations of the Board or by other accepted rules of racing, it shall be determined by the stewards in conformity with justice and in the interest of racing."
     Just think about that for a minute or two. If the stewards think it's wrong, it's wrong, and you get a fine or suspension. No other rule necessary.
     Don't you think a law like that put in the criminal code would just about wipe out crime on the streets? Cops could pick up anybody that looked suspicious and the judge could apply that law and put them away. They wouldn't even have to be told what they were being put in jail for.
     What are we waiting for?
     Come to think of it, that's already being done. Sounds like Guantanamo, doesn't it?--July 30. 2:41 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I was thinking about the .003 percent that is going to be held out of purses for CARMA.
     I'll bet that those that complain the most are those that take their wives out for a $100 dinner and then leave a $15 tip.--July 28. 8:13 a.m.

     Roger Downes, Murrieta, CA: I firmly believe that each individual owner has a duty to provide care for living creatures he possesses. Dogs, cats, ferrets--and horses. I went through the exact same analysis described in The Editor's Notebook to reach the conclusion that I should contribute to the fund.
     Make no mistake about it--this is purely an owner duty, but I spent a lot of time thinking about why tracks, vets, trainers and local and state governments who "feed off" the owners efforts, should also be contributing. I left them off the hook because the duty here is legitimately that of the owner. Nevertheless, where are they when the animal that supports them really needs their help?--July 25. 1:15 p.m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: I just finished checking today's Del Mar results and was both astonished and disturbed at the fact that 5 of the 8 races were for 2 year olds. With the prior week carding 7 2 year old races it is amazing that there was enough to fill 5 on a card. Disturbing that there are so few older horses available and that a lot of these babies might not see their 3 year old season.--July 24. 4:01 p.m.

     Shirley Dumas, Los Angeles, CA: The Pepper Oaks closure is the bell ringer for the industry here in California . . . and now Windfall Farms,. The problem is that most people who get into this business are told that they have to have a farm and have stallions. What they are not told is how much it will cost to run the thing. And if you do not have a popular stallion forget it--slam dunk!
     The cost of doing horse business in California is now out of sight. I can now say that the horse business as a whole is in big trouble in this country. When gas prices reach $5.00 or more even show horse people are going to be in trouble.Times are not going to favor keeping large animals like horses or be in any business that does not produce something for human consumption. Just keeping large animals as pets is going to be greatly affected........
     In order for anyone who can afford to keep horses the best thing for them is to really downsize, and I think this what we will be seeing a lot of in the coming months and years. I think that racing will become specialized to maybe two tracks in California that race on Saturday or Sunday only. We shall see.--July 12. 9:46 p.m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: Re The Editor's Notebook dated July 4th.
 It was pleasant to read about this site's contest, the gloom in the air is getting a bit thick.  Today I looked at the list of organizations supported by the Thoroughbred Charities of America. It's an impressive list.--July 5. 12:33 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I've been reading Don's list of reasons why the high cost of oil will be the real factor in the loss of horse racing. I say horse racing because it's not just TB racing but racing in general.
     It is true that there are some other factors such as breakdowns, drugs, no casinos at the tracks that are already causing problems, but the rising cost of fuel will be what breaks the camel's back.
     I've always said that racing is the Sport of Kings as it is very hard to play this game without a windfall somewhere.
   The sales that are coming up will be a big indicator, I think.
   There are very few things on Don's list that won't come about because of fuel costs. There is no reason to relist them, but a few might be welcome.
    One is that the Jockey Club will be under pressure to recognize the value of artificial insemination. In order for that to reduce any costs they not only have to approve its use, but they will also have to allow transported cooled semen.
    This really causes problems for the lower quality stallions. If you don't have one that is in demand across the country, they don't attract the local mares either.
    Casinos that are out in the middle of nowhere will take a hit and this could help tracks, maybe in a small way.
    We have decided to move mares from our broodmare band that are not producing the caliber of marketable foals that we want to sell. We know it's a bad time. Because of the rising costs of feed, who will spend much for them? They are all very well bred mares.
    A breeder was in my office today saying that his trainer informed him that he was going to have to raise his rates because of the cost of feed, bedding, and fuel cost. He said that is fine, but if my horses can't win then they are going home.
    In the 6 1/2 years. that I have been in WA. my grain costs have almost tripled, hay has more than doubled, and the cost of fuel almost tripled.
    The whole thing has a trickle down affect on the industry. As people get out of the business so will trainers have to get out. The less horses raised the harder to fill races forcing tracks to close. Feed stores will feel the crunch. Tack shops will take a hit and the whole thing keeps rolling till we are in a complete depression. It's what happened in the 30's, isn't it?
    Another question might be, are there enough of the wealthy in the racing game to supply the quantity of horses needed to support the industry??--July 2. 9:36 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I have to agree that racing without drugs would be a good thing. It would certainly level the playing field, help the horses, and improve our image to the public. All sports are functioning under the same black cloud. 
     Football, basketball, baseball, track and field, all of them have been brought to light and it needs to be cleaned up.
     Zero tolerance will be a hard sell to the State Racing Commissions, but just maybe it would be easier than a unified set of rules that none of them can agree on.
    Not being a trainer or knowing lab technology, I have no idea how long a drug stays in a horse's system. I mention this because as I reflect back on my time as manager of San Luis Rey Downs, the trainers used drugs in their training regime. On the morning that horses  were scheduled to work they were given bute and lasix. I don't know about all the other stuff that was used.
    The fact boils down that many trainers just can't get along without them regardless whether the horse needs them or not. I remember when good quality alfalfa and grass hay along with oats or Omelene and maybe a vitamin supplement was all that was used or "needed". Then it was B12 and caco copper, then Amp 200 and dexamethazone was supposed to make a horse's blood sugar peak at race time if it was given at the proper time. Solu delta cortef was used, nitro pills dissolved in B12, Ritalin, then Elephant Juice, not long ago someone used snake venom. Now bronchial dilators are the thing, milkshakes, cough syrups, steroids, you name it
    A big thing was made of when Dutrow said Big Brown would start without steroids and three weeks later he comes back with a bad test on another horse.
    I've maintained for a long time that if a horse needs all that to get run out of him, he's either too sore or not very fast.
     Have you looked at your pre-race bill lately? It will be close to $1000. Ya know besides all the meds they have to inject knees, hocks, ankles, and oh, sometimes feet. I really think that this is what causes unsoundness in most cases.
     I know of trainers that have been inducted into state hall of fames that killed a few horses before or right after a race.
     You don't see stallion or breeding managers inducted. We can't breed a sound or fast enough horse that some of them won't try something.--June 30. 4:16 p.m.

     Ginny Johnston, Tularosa, NM: I hate to see Pepper Oaks closing. What a beautiful farm. Many good memories of visits on stallion tours. Remembering John Turner as the manager before he became ill. And Pat Youngman was so gracious and hospitable to all who visited. 
     Swiss Yodeler will find a good home. He made the farm. We went there in the first place to breed to him. We were rewarded with a $40,000 Barretts weanling who did win. So many others including his owner and Pepper Oaks reaped great benefits from this stallion.
     I hope that Pat Youngman will consider horse rescue as part of her future planned charity work and put aside some of the beautiful pastures she has at Pepper Oaks for retired thoroughbreds. With Pat's help we might be able to bring more awareness to the serious subject of unwanted racehorses. There is a wonderful lady here in New Mexico working so hard to get a $5 per start fee put into rescue funding for NM bred horses. We are trying to get our horsemens association to help us get going. 
     Maybe Pat could get things rolling for California. She would be wonderful as a person to spearhead a fund raising campaign out there. This would truly be for the love of the horse.--June 30. 4:03 p.m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: How interesting reading all the California memories. Glad to read that people are able to meet up again.
     The only thing that I have to offer is a Gold-colored drinking glass with a beautiful painting of Proper Proof on it (1968). It reads: "The California Derby--Most Historic Thoroughbred Classic in the West." How's that for a look back ?...
     Have a blast at your reunion!--June 27. 6:39 p.m .

     Eric Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA: I don't think CNN, ESPN, MSNBC etc will even give this story honorable mention in their website and broadcast coverages. Not enough for them to blow up out of proportion. 

TCA to Give $1.59 Million in Grants.--June 27.11:53 a.m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Wow, Larry, what a memory you have.  Yes, Gary was in an accident on the way to work one foggy morning. I am looking forward to the Santa Rosa sale if you can make it. Running shuttle out of both BM and GGF has me going 24/7 right now, but I will make time to get there and as Barb says, it will be great fun to go over old memories together. Especially since yours are so much better than mine.........lol.--June 27.6:24 a.m.

     Leigh Ann Howard, Bonsall, CA: This is great!  We all must have been around ERM close to the same time. Remember the big X-ray therapy machine?  I helped run the anesthesia machine for Dr. Waters and Dr. Simington during their surgeries and we would all go over for the breakfast at the casino in Lake Elsinor before the patient was ready to get up..You all remember those days?  Dr. Joe Cannon would show up for some of the surgeries. Must have been in '72 or '73 maybe. They had the only surgery set up around. That was just before Drs. Jay and Ethel Rose built the clinic in Bonsall.--June 26. 10:39 p.m.

     Barbara Lopes, Lakeport, CA: Ok, all you old guys (including me) let's get together at the CTBA Santa Rosa sale in August if we can. Lots of memories and catching up to do. Just talked to Sandy this afternoon and she's all for it too. I'm sure our editor, Don, will be there since he lives so close, and Leigh Ann thought up the idea, so I'm sure she'll be there. Good grief, what a reunion that would be.--June 26. 8:58 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Sandy, you know that it can get foggy down in the Murietta Valley. Was your husband involved in an auto accident? If so I think his name was Gary and my wife and I visited with you at the hospital.
   Also, if this is correct, you gave me a female dingo pup that you called Fancy. I took her to Flag Is Up, Kentucky,Washington, and down to Idaho where she was stolen from me.
   I guess we better get back to the horses, huh?--June 26. 5:46 p.m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Hey, Larry, we probably did cross paths all those years ago. My husband was galloping the ranch horses that were at what was then Rancho California, and after the track closed he and Bill would go back to the farm to work on the babies.  I would go a couple of times a week just to watch but generally I stayed at the track as I was chief, cook and bottle washer and still had work to do when they took off. 
     I remember Larry but as I recall I wasn't around the breeding shed too often.  But all in all, I am sure we must have at least seen each other. Reminiscing does remind me how small the world can be at times, here it is 35 years plus and running into people that share some of the same memories as I.--June 26. 12:28 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: My thanks to Marvin Mace for remembering Proper Proof. For some reason I've always had a hard time remembering his name. Maybe it's because we didn't breed him that much.
     Of that list, Nodouble turned out to be a pretty good sire and led the list once for leading sire of 2-year-olds. Bargain Day was a very small horse but got a lot of good runners as well.
     Eric, Runaway Groom came along after I left ERM. Since you mentioned Dr. Waters' name, guess what I found? I was looking through our medicine cabinet this morning and came across a bottle of Dr. Waters' "iodine leg blister". I have no idea how it got here or who ordered it. There is no date on it!
     The directions say: clip hair, rub 2-4 minutes with stiff hair brush. do not repeat, grease,or water until scab comes off.
     It still smells strong but we aren't going to use it. But, knowing Dr. Waters it must have been good!--June 26. 10:25 a.m.

     Eric Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA: Add another gray by the name of Runaway Groom, who started his stud career at ERM. Sadly Dr. Waters passed away in about 1995. Dr. Simington still around and practicing on a limited basis in the Hemet area.--June 26. 3:03 a.m.

     Marvin Mace, Beverly Hills, CA: The gray stallion that Larry Stevens couldn't remember was Proper Proof.--June 25. 6:02 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Isn't it strange that when you start to reminiscence, you start to find out how old some of us are.
     I'm going to try to list the stallions that were at El Rancho Murietta while I was the breeding manager.
      They were: Nodouble, Corn Off The Cob, Aforethought, Page, No Fooling, Noholme Jr., Quilche, Bargain Day, King Of The Sea, Nasharco, another gray and I can't remember his name but was trained by Mossbacher, and Nashville was there for a short time. There might have been others, but these I do remember.
     I remember playing pool with Dale Robertson(yes, the actor) at the little restaurant where we always had lunch. He was there completing the purchase for Nashville and I think he beat me.
     Larry Heinemann was manager, Tony Yocum was assistant manager, and our vets were Dr. Richard Waters and Dr. Dave Simington. Those two were always good for a laugh!--June 25. 10:22 a.m.

     Barbara Lopes, Lakeport, CA: Boy, we're really going back a lot of years. I too knew Bill Pellam and his wife, Judy. Such nice people. Bill trained one of our sale horses and when we traveled down to Southern California to see our horses, we'd always have dinner with Bill and Judy. It was a great loss when Bill died so young.
      Another good thing Bill did was to recommend Sandy Nickols to us for training in Northern California, since that's where we live. Sandy and I are still great friends, and though she's not training anymore, we always use her vanning service and look to her for advice.
      Rancho Murietta was such a nice ranch, too. I don't remember if I met Larry there, but I do remember that our editor and friend, Don Engel, was our sales agent for the yearlings we sold at that time. It's a small world and we're still all hanging in there.--June 24. 9:34 p.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: To Sandy--Our paths must have crossed at some time or another. I was working at El Rancho Murietta in the breeding shed and then as stallion manager at the same time that Bill Pellam was in charge of the race barn.
     He was a very good horseman.--June 23. 9:05 a.m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: In my humble opinion, the root to the increasing breakdowns relates to several things. Economics is probably the leader, too many racing days, too many drugs providing the option of trying to get one more race out of the horse and too many connections wanting to exercise that option in place of turning them out when needed.
     My first job on the track was in 1969 as a groom for Ron McAnally. I went from there to pony girl, assistant trainer and with many thanks to my wonderful friend at the time, Bill Pellam, 18 years as a trainer. I have worked in the receiving barn, bred, owned and now transport them. I've seen a lot of changes over all these years.
     I can't honestly say that I notice our horses have become lighter boned.  Consigners have definitely learned how to beef up the appearance of the youngsters but I don't really think that is the culprit. How the horse is handled after he is sold would seem to be the most important factor.
     In the "good old days" when it wasn't uncommon to see a horse run to double digit ages, we had breaks between meetings giving them time to recover structurally, the common practice back then was to turn a horse out at the first sign of a problem and the biggest complement a trainer could receive was to be referred to as a top notch horseman.  e now seem to live in the era of who wins the most races regardless of how it's done or the cost to achieve it. Unfortunately, the ones paying the price for this attitude is our sport and our horses. 
      Maybe I've grown old and senile and our horses are more fragile than in the old days. If that is the case, good horsemanship could compensate for it. Over the last 35 to 40 years we have learned about bone density, we have nuke scans and so many other tools to take better care of our horses. Maybe getting back to being a good horseman rather than being a vets top client would be a great start. Get rid of the drugs and return horsemanship to the game. 
     Perhaps we might even get past the driving force of economics and return to the days when you picked up a Sports section and a fan favorite such as Round Table, Swaps, Social Climber or the ever popular Silky Sullivan graced the front page.--June 21. 3:10 p.m.

     Leigh Ann Howard, Bonsall, CA: The joint meeting between the CTBA board and the Santa Ynez Valley Thoroughbred Association has already resulted in some positive action on our education front. At the end of each breeding season there are stories galore about the common endemic diseases at the farms where large numbers of mares and foals congregate. This situation has existed for as long as I can remember. One year the problems were joint ill, another year it would be salmonella, or clostridium. For the past few years the most common disease seems to be Rhodococcus.
     At first everyone was encouraged to give certain types of plasma to their foals on specific days following birth. Now most farms require the foals to be given two doses of plasma on two different dates. And foals are still often getting sick.
     The Santa Ynez Valley event brought together many farm folks from all over the state and the consensus was that the control and elimination of disease needs to be brought out of the closet and discussed in a forum setting so that various ways of successfully dealing with these diseases can be written up and disseminated among our breeders.
     This has resulted in the planning of a roundtable type discussion on Saturday morning, September 6th at the 12th Annual Harris Ranch Seminar. We hope to bring many experts, both the farm vets and the vets from academic settings along with several prominent farm managers to discuss methods currently being used to reduce disease and to develop protocol that can help breeders deal with these issues.
     This should be an excellent forum and well worth taking the time to attend, so mark your calendars: Harris Ranch Seminar September 5 and 6th, 2008.June 19. 5:19 a.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I'm against the use of steroids in almost all cases. I say almost, because I have used Equipoise to stimulate the appetite on an individual that was in poor condition. But I am really against their use in sales.
     I am in favor of testing, but I do have some questions as to how they are going to be conducted.
     Is it going to be horses from what has been a leading consignor or agent? Can't just pick on those. Is it going to be at least one horse from every consignment? That doesn't sound like a bad idea. Or is going to be from those that have rumors of using steroids? There's probably a lot of those. You tell me!!!
     What if one of the leading consignors or agents come up to you and asks you to put certain horses on the testing list so they don't have to pay the $250 on their purchases. Are you going to stand your ground and not have any favorites?
     The only ones that will object to the testing will be the guilty. We all know that!
      I have conditioned a lot of yearlings for sales, both TB and QH, and have topped quite a few sales in the past. I'm proud to be able to say that I have never used steroids on any sales horse and my farm owners have never requested that I do so.
      Good feed, care, exercise, and a lot of brushing works wonders.--June 18. 3:55 p.m.

     Sue Greene, Woodbridge Farm, Oakdale, CA: To comment on Jean Marie Smith's question about steroid testing. I would hope that consignors would be honest and disclose medication as required by Barretts. We don't use steroids, have not in the past, and have sold our yearlings for fair prices. Maybe this will "even out" the playing field, or better yet eliminate the dishonest sellers. Time will tell.--June 17. 4:11 p.m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: I can think of only one way to describe Rick Dutrow's behavior in blaming Kent Desormeaux for Big Brown's loss: No class.--June 13. 6:34 a.m.

     Jean Marie Smith, Pasadena, CA: Thank you, Mr. McMahon, I do appreciate your reply. However, in France where I am originally from, the drugs are not allowed. I do not understand that if steroids will be illegal, why are not all tested and thus the rule is enforced? To test with random abandon and charge the buyer, the seller can get away with the steroids anyway. C'est la vie, I must think!--June 12. 7:13 p.m.

     Jerry McMahon, Barretts Equine Ltd., Pomona, CA: To answer Jean Marie Smith's question regarding Barretts' new testing procedures, it is not currently practical or cost effective to test all the horses in an auction. 
     We felt that giving the buyer the option to test, along with random sampling by the CHRB licensed vet, would be a strong deterrent to the newly prohibited use of anabolic steroids. 
     Owners and breeders have a great deal of time and money invested in getting a horse to auction and do not want to risk losing a sale on the possibility of a positive test. 
     Incidentally, a similar provision has been put in place in the leading eastern auctions with the fee to buyers set at $500.  I do not believe that random sampling is a part of that program.--June 12. 10:19 a.m.

     Jean Marie Smith, Pasadena, CA: What am I missing here? Barretts will test for steroids at the fall yearling sale. The CHRB will randomly test the yearlings but a buyer must pay $250 for a steroid test on a yearling? Why is Barretts not testing all the yearlings and letting all the buyers know they are steroid free? If you pay $250 you can return the yearling but cannot if you do not pay for the test yourself? What is wrong with this picture? I have read this in the Thoroughbred Times and Blood Horse. Someone please explain.--June 11. 5:41 p.m.

     Linda Vetter, Redwood City, CA: Speaking of Cal-bred connections in the Belmont, the Belmont Exacta had a close Cal-bred tie with Da' Tara's dam Torchera (Pirate's Bounty x Kaylem Ho) and runner-up Denis of Cork's granddam Sound Wisdom (Pirate's Bounty x Kaylem Ho) being FULL sisters (bred by River Edge Farm). 
     Along with Tiznow being a Cal-bred, maybe there is some distance breeding left out there still in the Cal-bred bloodlines.   By the way, Kaylem Ho had 15 winners, with seven of them with 40-86 starts.   Another small data point that distance and soundness may be related in the pedigrees.
     I was looking at some South African races this morning.   One was a maiden race at 2500 meters (over a mile and a half), with another maiden at 2000 meters (approximately a mile and a quarter).   Only the 2-yo maiden races were around 6 furlongs.   There are some good, sound horses coming out of there too.--June 11. 10:23 a.m.
     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Kent D. doesn't get any criticism from me as to the end of the ride. It looked like Big Brown was going to finish last anyway. Things would have looked worse if he had continued whipping when the gas tank was empty.
   The part of the ride that I didn't like was the beginning of the race. At the time I thought he should have just let the horse roll and see if he could get him to relax on the backside. Big Brown was fighting his head and switching leads back and forth and I thought this took all the run out of him.
  But again, I'm not a trainer. Let's hope he can redeem himself in the Travers.--June 10. 2:19 p. m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: Yes, Jean, I agree,the Tiznow/Pirate's Bounty bloodlines sure looked good at the mile & a half. More Re/ the Belmont: On TVG, Trainer Jack Van Berg was interviewed after the Belmont. When asked 'What do you think happened to Big Brown?" He replied that he thought that his hoof was festering under the hoof patch.
     Today, there have been a few articles stating that Kent D. is getting lots of criticism for easing the horse.
     One reality for the ultimate sure bet:  Thoroughbred Horse Racing is very interesting.--June 10. 9:50 a.m.

     Jean Marie Smith, Pasadena, CA: Anyone notice the California pedigree on the Belmont winner? By Tiznow out of a Pirate's Bounty mare? It is heartening to know that if Big Brown couldn't do it, then a deserving stallion sired a classic winner.--June 8. 6:21 a.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Someone else needs to write in here. I'm leaving town for a few days, so pick up the slack.
     In response to Don's Editor's Notebook posted June 5. I'm 68 and I've been to a lot of races and this is my observation: 
     It's pretty obvious that the race is going slow if all the jockey's are standing up and no one wants the lead, but if they are going at a fair clip and they didn't have a stop watch in their hands or post the fraction times in the race, I would bet that not over 1 in 500 fans would know if they are going fast or slow!--June 5. 7:41 a.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I believe that speed and stamina in an equine athlete and a human athlete is expressed in the same manner. I adamantly believe that it is also genetic. It just has to be.
     Don's friend (see The Editor's Notebook, June 4 entry) is saying that if I take my Quarter Horse and change the way he is trained he can run a mile with a Thoroughbred, or take the TB and train him like a QH and he will win at 350 yards. That just isn't so. Their genetic make up is just to different. The muscle mass is entirely different. It is the same with human runners.
     Look at those that run 100 or 200 meters and compare them to those that run a mile or more. It doesn't matter where they are from, but if you put that distance runner up against a sprinter at 100 meters he won't have a chance. They just aren't built the same.
     I didn't like my track coach very well and here is why. I was quite fast and could outrun anyone that was on our 400 relay, but he wouldn't let me run that race. I was 5 foot 9, and he made me run the 1/2 mile. Practically all the others in that race was 6 foot or over. I could have outrun them for the first quarter but I could never stay with them to the end.
     In horse racing there are those which have good speed and can carry it over a distance of ground and this along with soundness should be what we are breeding for.
     If you want a 5 furlong winner then you breed for speed and soundness (if you want to run it very long). If you want to run at the classic distance then you need all three, speed, stamina, and soundness.
   And again, I think it all has to do with genetics!--June 4. 11:48 a.m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I don't think anyone will argue the point that soundness correlates to staying power and that seems to be what is lacking in American TB pedigrees.
     If you look at the numbers of  "Chefs de Race" in the dosage of our horses you find very few to the far right and the average win distance is hardly over six and a half furlongs.
     I'm sure that we all agree that no one can be forced to breed a certain way and abandon the great stallions that we have now. It is a true fact that when money is on the line it's not hard to fill a race.
     I remember when they used to have what was called The Early Bird Futurity for Quarter Horses. It was at 220 yards and ran in December of their yearling year. The purse got to be close to $150,000 and it became a barometer for horses to watch. The money did not go on the horses' official earnings, but it made no difference to those who participated in it.
     What I'm getting at is that the incentive was there and that is what is needed to change our way of thinking. I really believe that the CTBA could and should take the lead here and change the distribution of the Cal-bred purse money. They could add a half a furlong to a lot of the stakes races and increase the purses and that alone would entice many breeders to look for more stamina in our breeding programs.
     Ken Callendar stated that before long they would call a 1400 meter race a staying race. I can tell you that at Los Alamitos right now a 350 yard race is a distance race.
     I always think of Belmont Park and the way it is laid out. 
     In a mile and a half race, when they round the last turn and head for home after having run a mile and a quarter, they are looking at another quarter mile or 440 yards to go. It must look like forever or take forever to get there.
    We'll find out next Saturday on June 7!!--May 31. 2:58 p. m.

     Priscilla Clark, Tranquility Farm, Tehachapi, CA: I don't know how many are familiar with this chart recently compiled by the Jockey Club Welfare Committee, but it provides an invaluable analysis of current sires and sire lines regarding the durability of their offspring. This type of info is readily available on the catalog page for female families, but a sire's true production record can be more difficult to access. 
     This chart is not the easiest to read, but even a cursory look shoots the "Let's blame it all on Native Dancer" theory. Anyway, for folks looking for useful info on sires whose runners hold up, here it is. 
      There is also an interesting study being organized at Texas A. and M. which Tranquility Farm is pleased to take part in. The goal is to create a genetic profile of runners who have started 30 or more times without a catastrophic or career-ending fracture. We have about 15 retired horses that match that criterion, and they come from every bloodline imaginable. The results should be fascinating.--May 28. 5:14 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: I really wasn't going to write about break downs on the track until I read Don's latest Editor's Notebook. But.....
     As we analyze the statistics on unsoundness, let's be careful when putting labels on certain horses. By this I mean, as one who has made a living standing stallions, don't put all the blame on the stallion. 
      Let's say that a particular stallion sires 10 unsound horses or bad legged foals in a crop, some of them are breeding over 200 mares of all kinds of pedigrees.
      Most everyone says that the mare is at least 65% of the foal, but I never hear that it's the mare's fault. It's the stallion's fault if she never got in foal, foals are crooked legged, have bad heads, bad temperament, you name it, but Ole Suzy out there in the pasture never contributed to any of these faults.
      If the goal is to raise a sound foal through breeding, you are going to have to examine the whole pedigree, which is going to be a tedious task. Plus, in the end the answer might be to raise a slower horse. Is that what we want?
     The saying that speed kills or it's awful hard to keep a really fast horse sound are pretty much true.
     I don't know what will be determined, but I do know that if we really want a mess, just let the Federal Government get involved in our breeding plans.--May 28. 4:31 p. m.

     Linda Vetter, Redwood City, CA: As long as there are so many different sides weighing in on horse breakdowns these days (see Don's May 26 Editor's Notebook item), let's add another vector.
     There was an article in the Wall Street Journal this week about at least some in the insurance industry thinking they should charge higher premiums on insurance for race horses who come from bloodlines considered more prone to injury (or fertility insurance premiums for bloodlines with breeding problems). 
     This is an interesting prospect - insurance companies are heavy into statistics and actuarial numbers, and I would think to do this they would have to amass and analyze a lot of data to determine what these bloodlines would be with a lot more accuracy than just the standard "Gee, Native Dancer lines seems to have more injuries" or something.   They would want to know which ones with more statistical certainty.
     While I am not advocating higher premium costs (they are pretty high already!), I could maybe get into the idea of having such data available to us little breeders and owners who might want to take such things into consideration, again if it had more scientific backing than just the tales we hear or our own random experiences.   Of course, to then also figure out what multiple pedigree paths would actually mean many generations later and after various crosses, any such "results" may border on similar "conclusions" than what are used for Nicking, dosage, and many other theories, with equal validity or proof.   Even two full siblings can have very few genes in common.   I would think Don would have a comment on that aspect.
     So even if they could religiously collect enough verified data, and come up with a way to weigh and analyze the various crosses over a long enough time, to what degree might it really apply to a given horse?    And while they are at it, maybe the insurance industry should take into account all the other things the House of Representatives is asking about, such as racing surfaces, drug use, age, etc.   Wouldn't it be nice someday to say if I bred a certain mare to a specific stallion, and only raced the offspring as a 4-year-old on a specific track, with a specific trainer and jockey, that I would only have a .01 % chance of any breakdowns?   I'm not sure I could use that much data, although knowing some things better than "old wives' tales" would be nice and I could pick and choose which parts to consider.
     And Don's point about changing the whole industry to follow that plan still applies - maybe I could breed the perfect horse to run for me without breaking down, but if it can only run as a 4-year-old on a certain track, there wouldn't be much of a market (besides, all this doesn't say if the resultant breeding would produce a horse that could run very fast and actually win! As far as I know, Clydesdales are pretty sound, but even I can breed a Thoroughbred that could outrun one).--May 28. 11:05 a.m.

     Patricia Jackson, San Francisco, CA: This is nothing important, but I have to share it with somebody. The evening that Eight Belles broke down and had to be euthanized, one of our local TV news readers said this: "And now, the tragic story of the filly Eight Bellies."
     Eight bellies???!!! Where do they get these people? They must be graduates of some special TV Dumb School.--May 15. 4:20 p.m.

     Don Sandri, Hayward, CA: Today marks the end of a 74 year Bay Area racing tradition. The track that saw Seabiscuit, Citation, Native Diver, Snow Chief and Tobasco Cat run memorable races. El Lobo land in the parking lot, representing the first Equine traveler in history. Majestic Prince begin his racing career under the tutelage of legendary rider turned trainer, Johnny Longden that lead him to the first two jewels of the Triple Crown undefeated. 
     This historic racetrack, Bay Meadows, concludes it's last regular race so the grand old Grandstand can be torn down to make way for more little boxes--cause they're telling us that's what we need. Am I crazy??
     What's crazy is building  in the middle of one of the deepest downturns in Bay Area housing market history. There are gated communities with so many foreclosures that banks are taking Section 8 housing clientele in order to stop the financial bleeding. We are years away from the bottom. Do we need more housing right now? Why not race? A sad and confusing day...--May 11. 6:37 p.m.

     Sandy Koster, Williston, FL: I'm currently reviewing the state by state equine facilities that are listed on the "unwanted Horse Coalition Website" that you posted a link to. Well done for posting that link since there is an oversaturation of horses in this area, people can't give them away so they let them starve. 
     I came upon a starving grey mare in a field a month ago...that was grisly. I took photos with my cell phone and called the cops, the equine rescue, etc., and she had to be put down. Before she was destroyed, I went home and got a bucket of water and a few flakes of hay and fed her her last meal. I cared for her, caressed her, and gave her kisses. She knew somebody had come to her aid. 
     Then the cop came out into the field with the owner on a golf cart and he cussed me out for trespassing in his field. He was obviously suffering from dementia himself and unaware of the situation. I was so grieved by her starvation and neglect. The photos I have are so sad. She had a nice crystal-studded halter on and all I can tell you is that at one point in time, she was somebody's everything. Maybe she belonged to the older man's granddaughter??? Who knows, but death by starvation is not pretty, especially here in hot Florida without water and with lots of flies. She was down on the ground and unable to even get up.--May 11. 10:15 a.m.

     Gina Angelo, Santa Barbara, CA: I see that some organization called the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association has its own idea for dealing with the problem of horses breaking down.
     Its president, a gentleman by the name of Bayne Welker, has written a letter to the NTRA president urging him to "immediately hire a cutting-edge national public relations first to help neutralize the misinformation and spiraling hysteria of this situation."
     It's nice that those people have a way to deal with the problem, but I think I remember something about how the cover-up can be worse than the crime. Don't solve the problem, just distract the public and the problem will go away.--May 10. 1:27 p.m.

     Priscilla Clark, Tranquility Farm, Tehachapi, CA: Regarding two current topics, the search for Black Jack Attack and the whereabouts of Crystal Water progeny, I can offer some hopeful information. 
     First, there may have been a creditable sighting of Black Jack Attack at the April 13 Roseville auction, and all leads are being pursued with the utmost care. 
     Second, two mares by Crystal Water, named Love the Water and Melt are now in retirement at Tranquility Farm. Another mare from the original Three Rings Ranch, Shynara, by Gummo, was also retired at TF and passed away in 2005. 
     I hope to have a happy outcome to report to all the people who have been so concerned and supportive in our effort to find Black Jack Attack.--April 28. 9:01 p.m.

     Sue Greene, Woodbridge Farm, Oakdale, CA: I have had this on my mind for several weeks but haven't taken the time to respond. The conversation about Black Jack Attack has prompted me to write. 
     Regarding the rescue of Cappucino Kid: after reading the article about Cappucino Kid I have been bothered once again by the fact that whoever owned him in his final running days thought of him as a disposable commodity. 
     I had the good fortune to have rehabbed him several times during his racing career up north for Chuck Peery. He was a very classy, professional gelding always ready to do whatever you asked of him.
     There were two other grand geldings that came through our farm, and I now wonder what happened to them, one being a stake winner of well over $430,000 named Suspicious Minds. The other gelding unfortunately was claimed several years ago like these two and has disappeared and I am afraid something bad happened to him. 
     I have taken and retired several grand geldings for clients who are responsible owners and genuinely care what happens to their horses, so when I hear about these incidents it breaks my heart. I cannot understand how anyone can continue to run horses and not get emotionally attached or at least have some sort of emotional concern for these great athletes' lives during and after they are done racing. For me this goes hand in hand with discarded dogs and cats, only on a larger scale. 
     I sure hope that Suspicious Minds is somewhere enjoying a new career as a show horse or pet for someone. I don't have the answers for this situation except to be a responsible owner and care what happens to our horses since they give unconditionally for our benefit. 
     I am also glad Leigh Ann wrote suggesting we all meet during the upcoming sale at Santa Rosa. The event that is being planned for the evening before sounds like fun and a great change for all of us to put faces with names. I hope everyone gets to attend!--April 26. 2:21 p.m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: Regarding the Editor's Notebook dated April 26, 2008.
     I was upset and sad to read that the breeders of Black Jack Attack could not find him. As a handicapper, I remember reading Black Jack Attack's race record, and he stood out as a hard working racehorse, capable of a surprise. I used him in Trifectas and Exactas. He was a great horse in his own humble way & I am so sorry that his breeders were not able to find him, and prevent him from being tortured to death. I just hope that he got a well placed, quick bullet, rather than the repeated stabbings. He was a fighter.--April 26. 9:22 a.m.

     Leigh Ann Howard, Bonsall, CA: How about meeting at the Nor Cal Santa Rosa Yearling sale in mid-August in Santa Rosa...that is not so far for Larry and many of us are going to be up there anyway. I hear there are plans for a nice party the night before the sale. Lots of wine and cheese sounds very good!
     Don Engel lives in Rohnert Park, which is right next door to Santa Rosa, and I'm sure he'll be there to greet us all.--April 23. 7:10 p.m.

     Javier P. Mendiola, Mexico City, Mexico: I´m so glad I found this space.
I worked for the Three Rings Ranch in 1986. One of my activities there was to feed and groom Crystal Water and Today ´n Tomorrow, the most famous thoroughbreds there.
     I remember all the people who worked there and I´m sad that the whole ranch disappeared.
     My question is: Does anybody know what happened to Rex Ring? I also would like to know about Rex Manley´s whereabouts.
     By the way, I still have on of Crystal Water´s blankets. It´s beautiful in light blue and white.
     My contact information is this e-mail address: kanjiluva@yahoo.com.mx.
     When I worked for the Three Rings Ranch, I got acquainted with Mr. Rex Manley, who was a former jockey. He was a very good friend of mine, a very wise man who had had his very high ups and very low downs, a very interesting human being.
     I also got to talk a lot with Mr. Rex Ring, the administrator at that time of the 
ranch, he was a very nice man, though kind of of lonely, I still remember 
the plate on his car: REXLUV. 
      Crystal Water was a superb thoroughbred, although he was not racing anymore. He had a lot of personality and a hot temper. But once he got 
used to you he was a very good friend. 
      Too bad the ranch disappeared. It was always clean and well maintained.
Horses there were happy. They had a lot of space to run and jump. It had its own racetrack and a bunch of weasels running around.
      The last time I went to Beaumont I was living in Mexicali. I went to visit the ranch, but it was already abandoned. It was before all the houses there began to be built. It was so sad to see a gorgeous place like that abandoned, with no horses, no friends, either. It was a very sad moment.
      I love Beaumont and Cherry Valley. and my memory of the Three Rings Ranch is permanent.--April 23. 1:22 p. m.

     Barbara Lopes, Lakeport, CA: Larry, your idea sounds good to me. I already know a couple of people who write in, but it would be fun meeting others. You'd have an awfully long trip down here, but if you're game, I'd certainly try to be there.--April 20. 4:11 p. m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach CA:  This is regarding The Editor's Notebook dated April 15, 2008 ...  reminds me of what my grandma used to say:"One person's mistake is another person's joy."--April 17. 7:43 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Another brain storm from Stevens. It's always nice to be able to put a face with a name so here goes.
     Why don't we select a sale, one preferably in the late fall when we are not as busy, and all the writers to Voices make an effort to attend.
     Don could have a little booth to register at and then we could all go out and have a nice dinner (dutch, of course) and we could go around the table, introduce ourselves, give a little history and just enjoy each other's company.
     What do ya think?????
     I know it would require some traveling, but I certainly would try to make it and WA is a long ways away, but I really think it would be worth the effort.--April 16. 5:11 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: My definition of inbreeding and line breeding is: If it works it's line breeding, if it doesn't it's inbreeding.
     This is in regards to the "True Nicks" mentioned in The Editor's Notebook.--April 4. 9:11 p. m.

     Eric Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA: Mr. MM of SM, don't forget to hold the TOC somewhat accountable in this as well. They do have Southern and Northern California delegates.--April 2. 5:49 p. m.

     Mickey Montgomery, Santa Monica, CA: If you have a Cal-bred turf 
sprinter, Friday and Saturday are your days to shine. There's a Cal-bred stake at  6 1/2 furlongs on the turf Friday at Santa Anita and a Cal-bred stake at 5 furlongs on the turf Saturday at Bay Meadows.
     Why on earth would the BM and SA racing offices schedule nearly identical turf stakes races at times that make it impossible for any horse to run in both of them? Why wouldn't the CTBA racing liaison bring this up for discussion before these races were scheduled? \
     It's not like there are races all over the condition book for Cal-bred sprinters on the grass. This is about like making it one racing opportunity instead of two.
     Maybe somebody knows the reason but I sure don't. Just looks dumb to me.--April 2. 10:21 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA:  This whole "nick" thing started when Don read that the TB Times is going to give a free "nicking" analysis for the advertised stallions in the magazine. I'm sure most of the reason is to draw more business, knowing that there are a lot of breeders that are caught up on that sort of thing. It does put a damper on those that offer that service for a profit. 
     I wasn't going to say much more about this but I had the palpating and breeding done for the day and it is snowing. They probably won't ovulate anyway.
     I remember when Bull Hancock made the statement of breed the best to the best and "hope" for the best. I've said the same thing, but many of us can't do that so you take the best that you have and breed to best that you can afford and still hope for something good.
     As was mentioned before, Nasrullah was known to cross very well on daughters of Princequillo. So was his son Bold Ruler, actually before Secretariat came along. Somethingroyal was not much of a runner but she had already produced Sir Gaylord and Syrian Sea, but it was because Princequillo was leading broodmare sire and Bold Ruler was already 7 times leading sire. I'm sure that they thought  it was the right "nick", which proved to be prophetic. Nick meaning that they had already experienced a lot of success with the cross.
   One might ask, what is the reason to publish a leading sire and leading broodmare sire list? They are based on total prodgeny earnings. As of March 29 Fusaichi Pegasus, leads the list as leading sire, but when you look at his % of Stakes Winners per foals it is only 4%. In 10th place is A.P. Indy with 12 5 Stakes Winners per foals and in 30th place is Storm Cat with 13% Stakes Winners per foals.
     The percentages  for the leading broodmare sire list are quite consistent with each other.
     On the TB leading broodmare sire list it is not broken down as to who their daughters had the most success with or is the leading sire list broken down as to who they crossed the best with. But, I like percentages!
     The AQHA publishes a list of the top 50 leading sires according to total prodgeny earnings called Successful Crosses I. Under each of them is a list titled: when bred to daughters of. Then it lists the sires of those mares, the earnings, starters, starts, winners/stk.winners, and wins/ stk wins. The other list using those same 50 stallions is titled: Successful Crosses II. Under this list is listed: when their daughters are bred to, and then the same break down.
     I went back and read Don's 3 part article, you can too, on evaluating "nicks" and dosage. If the water on "nicks" was a little cloudy anyway it almost became muddy enough to turn to soup. It really seems to be impossible to predict the results of a mating because of all the variables that exist.
     Bull Hancock didn't say "get the best", he said "hope for the best." Hope is the key word. I don't want to get religious here but it says, if ye have not hope then ye must needs be in despair. I think that is what a so called "nick" does. It doesn't promise us a runner but offers us some hope of a runner and that is what we all do, Hope!
     I have had many breeders ask me what stallion they should breed to and I always say, pick your own poison!--March 30. 8:51 p. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: Mal Karrigan asks why the Thoroughbred Times would associate itself with the nicking thing. Easy answer: Something to give them and edge and make a bigger profit. Since when did responsible behavior get in the way of making a profit?--March 25. 5:21 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Don Engel's last two articles were both good, and I agree with him for the most part.
     First, I don't think Dr. Scollay should have released the information that she thought artificial surfaces weren't of any advantage over dirt tracks. There hasn't been sufficient time or races over tracks that made the change to come out with such a statement. There has to be more data compiled before we can come to a definite stand here. Most of the tracks have only had the change for a year or two.
     It reminds me of the man that had three mares. A fellow asked him what percentage of his mares are in foal. He said that he thought 100%. We checked one in foal, one threw a fit and we were unable to finish the exam, but didn't catch her back in heat, and the other one got away.
     Second was about "nicking pattern's" in breeding race horses.
     I could cite a few bloodlines that "nicked" with real success in the QH breed. In the TB, of late it has been Storm Cat on Mr. Prospector mares. But again, this does not insure a runner of any merit. I remember hearing that crossing Nasrullah with a Hyperion mare was a no no, because you almost always got a rank foal.
     I have always felt that if you put a successful runner with a successful sire line on a mare with a noted broodmare line, then your chances are just as good as a "nicking pattern".
     Let's go to another program that is being used today. That is the Tesio Power Test Mating system. This uses the "Chef de Race" dosage system where a test mating is run using 5 generation on top and bottom of the resulting foal. Then it is calculated into different catagories, Brillant, Intermediate, Classic, Solid, & Professional with the most speed on the left side. They give you a Point Score. Center of Distribution as to speed and stamina, and a Dosage Index that relates to Earlycomer, Sprinter, Miler, Mid Distance or Stayer.
     There are a lot of believers in this one. One farm advertises that they use this on all their mares, but, they have the best stallion in the world and my thought was that that really helps. He crosses on anything!
     I think that there is way to much emphasis put on the value of this one. Anyway. . .--March 24. 6:20 p. m.

     Mal Harrigan, Studio City, CA: I read the analysis that Don Engel wrote about nicking and it sure wasn't easy. I guess he wanted to make sure he covered all the bases. After I read it I have to agree that the nicking recommendations aren't worth anything.
     The next thing I wonder is why the Thoroughbred Times wants to associate itself with that garbage. If they don't know its worthless they sure ought to and if they know and make it look like they're offering something great to breeders they are doing breeders a lot of damage.--March 24. 2:49 p. m.

     Paul Sedgwick, Orangevale, CA: I have just read that Danthebluegrassman has been retired from racing at age 9, and is being relocated to Old Friends Equine Retirement center in Kentucky. In his last start at Penn National, he finished sixth out of seven horses in a $7,500 claimer.
     He was purchased from the owner for $7,500, which was contributed by some
concerned fans, who had watched the horse descend through the claiming
ranks, during the years.
     Conspicuous in their absence from the names of contributors, were Mike
Pegram and Bob Baffert, the two people who made the most money campaigning
this horse during his "useful" years. It is disgusting that they feel no responsibility to these athletes who have been so good to them.
     At a time when our sport is struggling to attract new fans, it is stories
such as this one, that are causing long time fans such as myself, to
forsake the sport.--March 21. 10:28 a. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: Special congratulations to Jeff Bonde, who seems to have an eye, year after year, for top yearlings no matter what or where the venue. Buying out of a sale such as the Northern Cal sale wouldn't seem, on the surface, to be fertile ground for finding a Derby hopeful. However, Sierra Sunset and Autism Awareness certainly debunk that theory. Good horses are good horses no matter where they are presented for sale.--March 19. 6:35 a. m.

     Sue Greene, Woodbridge Farm, Oakdale, CA: Mr. Sandri, you are so correct with the "best kept secret" regarding the CTBA yearling sale. I hope more people pay attention this year to the horses consigned and come prepared to pay fair prices for the yearlings offered. I realize last year's sale prices were down. We certainly didn't have a profitable sale, but we sold horses that I am certain will run and earn well over their initial purchase prices. Please tell others that this sale sells race horses. We could certainly use the great publicity.--March 17. 11:37 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: To Marvin Mace & David Hoover--
     Marvin, we were aware of those fractions and it was because of them that we wanted Vikingson. They just don't come any faster.
     David, thanks for correcting my letter of March 13. I mentioned Kipper Kelly when I meant to say Kelly Kip, whom George Lucas stands at his Vinewood Farms in Visalia, CA. Kelly Kip is sired by Kipper Kelly and he was fast as well. I believe that they are Florida Breds.--March 16. 4:02 p. m.

     Don Sandri, Hayward, CA: With the recent victories by Autism Awareness in the El Camino Real Derby and Sierra Sunset in the The Rebel, here's hoping the Nor Cal September Sale will have a market rebirth in 2008.
     With the success of previous mentioned and the many other sale winners (including my 2005 purchase) there is no question this venue may be the best kept secret in the game. Breeders are raising and consigning horses that can run and they deserve buyer consideration.--March 16. 6:37 a. m.

     Marvin Mace, Beverly Hills, CA: I certainly remember Vikingson, and I don't think the contributors to this conversation have given him his proper due.
     Let me quote from an advertisement in a 1974 issue of The Thoroughbred of California, which is what the magazine was called in those days.
     "Vikingson ran the quarter under :22 flat nine times in 13 starts at three, and in four of them in :21 1/5 or faster.
     "His half-mile posting of :42 4/5 has never been equaled. And he ran a half in :43 4/5 or faster four times and in :44 4/5 or better nine times.
     "In every career start, the stakes-placed son of Viking Spirit was never headed at a half-mile, quarter and half-mile fractions were his."
     That, my friends, is what a very fast horse does. He may not have become a succssful sire, but he deserves to be remembered for what he was: one of the fastest Thoroughbreds that ever lived.--March 15. 11:51 a. m.

     Debbie Winick, Claremont, CA: More about Vikingson:
     Kjell Qvale bred him; he was by Viking Spirit. Jerry Dutton trained him. He ran 6f. in 9 and change, won only a couple of races, made $24,000.
     He didn't do to well as a Thoroughbred sire: one progeny Kaperonis made $101,000. But when he went to Quarter Horse he did well: Viking Anne made over $183,000 and set a Los Al track record going 870 in 44.7. She won 10 stakes.--March 14. 4:32 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: It is interesting that you mentioned Vikingson. I forgot about him. I think it was about 1972 or 73 that he came off of the track while I was stallion manager at El Rancho Murietta. You are right, he was very fast and had my type of conformation, a good looking son of a gun!
     Larry Heinemann, who was manager of ERM at that time, came to me and said that he received a call from Fred Sahadi about the possibilities of standing his horse. I told Larry that we need to get him if we can. We thought that we might have our hands on the next Three Bars.
     We met Fred at Hollywood Park for lunch. He was concerned as to how we were going to screen the book of mares. He wanted to limit his book to nothing but AAA running mares. I told him that we had the books at our disposal to do that, but he would eliminate a lot of very good producers. He felt very strong about this and we did not get Vikingson.
      If I remember right it seems like he went to Southwest Stallion Station in Texas. He should have bred enough good mares there to be able stand the test as to what kind of sire he was going to be.
     As David said he did not prove to be successful in either breed, but I don't think he covered many good TB mares.
     Like I said before, those TB stallions that work on QH mares fall into the almost freaky status. Those of note that worked were Top Deck, Three Bars, Rocket Bar, Azure Te, Moolah Bux to some extent, Beduino to name a few...oh and I can't forget my little Murrtheblurr who was as fast as any.
     I was also at ERM when Nashville was purchased by Chet and Dale Robertson to stand at their Haymaker Farms in Oklahoma but he broke his leg during the first breeding season so we really didn't find out what he could do. One of the win pictures of Nashville that Desi Arnez had was when he outran Bold Ruler.
     I've managed way over a hundred stallions so I could tell a lot of stories!--arch 14. 2:24 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: Vikingson was VERY fast. But I don't believe he ever sired anything of worth in Quarter horses or Thoroughbreds. My observations over the years seem to indicate that those very fast, freaky fast sprinters usually do not pass on their speed and are not successful studs. 
     One of the very fastest horses of recent years was Freespool. So far he doesn't appear to be passing on his brilliance. And I say that having bred several mares to him. It's still early to know for sure about him. In fact, I am breeding a very fast mare to him this year (20 3/5 - 44 0/0) in hopes of hitting with a fast foal. 
     Flame Thrower and Kelly Kip had that sort of speed and the jury is still out on them as far as I can tell.--March 14. 7:41 a. m.

     Barry Anthony, Pasadena, CA: So long as we're talking about Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses and that stuff, I remember a Thoroughbred that was about as fast as any Thoroughbred ever was. He had fantastic fractions and as well as I can remember he couldn't go an inch past six furlongs.
     I always thought he would make a great sire for Quarter Horses but I don't keep up with them at all so I never heard. I wonder if Larry or somebody could tell me if he ever did anything there. 
     His name was Vikingson.--March 13. 4:27 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA:  Well, Al, your are right. You don't have to agree with me and I didn't ask anyone to.
     I have always liked SPEED, and you can't get real early speed without a certain type of conformation and that means more muscle than the ordinary Thoroughbred.
     My friend, Wayne Lukas (hope you don't criticize me for that) said that the three most important ingredients in a race horse are speed, speed, and more SPEED. Now it's true that Wayne and myself have to look at TB yearlings in a different light if we want them to run at a classic distance. All that muscle looks good there but you have to remember that they have to drag it all around the track.
     I like a horse with a little higher hip and I like that hip to carry down deep in the pants and tie into a strong gaskin. I want them to vee up between the front legs and have a strong forearm. The knees and hocks have to set low to the ground. I can have all of that in a TB. Having managed several TB breeding farms, I paid particular attention to the conformation of the mares more than I did the stallions.
     Why? Because if I'm going to use the TB blood in a QH program, you will have more success if you use the very fast TB mare. There were daughters from certain sires that made my mouth water. Finding a TB stallion that will work is a very hit and miss project and I will be the first one to say that the QH breed is in a drastic need for one. Tell me where or who that stallion is and we can make a lot of money.
     It isn't going to be one of the classic runners I can tell you that. The term CHEAP SPEED (very fast, not much race record) is used to describe most of them that work. There is one stallion in California that I think could work and that is Kipper Kelly, however, he did make over a million dollars but he was a rock solid sprinter.
    A case in point would be the TB stallions Shecky Greene, Groovy, and Alydar. They tried all three of these stallions on QH mares and got nothing. Raise A Native had several sons that worked to some degree but Alydar was by far his most classic runner. Why didn't he work? Because he had no early speed at all. Noholme 2nd had some sons that worked, but not Shecky Greene even though he was Champion Sprinter. I stood Nodouble who was out of a Double Jay mare but he was not fast at the quarter pole and was not my kind of horse when it came to conformation.
     There isn't anything prettier than watching a TB bust out on top and scorch (20 and change or 21 flat at the quarter) the track for 5 furlongs wire to wire. If it can maintain some of that speed and go on out, well so much the better, but when they do most of them won't last past 6 furlongs. Most of these will have my type of conformation. Is it the only kind? Certainly not!--March 13. 10:01 a. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: It's easy to see that Larry Stevens' roots are in Quarter Horses. How about this from his last letter? "She was one of the prettiest TB mares I ever saw. You could have put her with any QH band of mares and never suspect that she was a TB."
     There isn't anything wrong with Larry's idea of what makes a pretty mare. But we don't have to agree with him.--March 12. 4:11 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA:  Jean Marie Smith wrote to the "Answer Man" concerning the average weight of a TB foal.His conclusion was that if the foal is normal then it should weigh 100 to 110 lbs.
     That sounds about right to me, but then I got to thinking about normal terms of gestation. I used to use 11 months and 11 days as pretty close to normal. I found that some mares won't carry that long so I backed it up to 11 months and 7 days from breeding. I have still had a few go less than that, but the majority will go at least that and over. 
     It gives me a guideline to start watching the foaling mares more closely.
     I believe that Don told me that at one time he managed Promised Land. Well, I was taking care of Miss Todd when she had her last foal. It was a filly by Promised Land and she carried her 1 year and 18 days. She was about the size of an averaged size goat. As a yearling she was too small to put in any sale. I lost track of her after that so I don't know if she went to the broodmare band or not.
     It seems that more than not if a mare carries a foal much over a year that they are generally smaller at birth. Other farm managers might comment on this.
    Now back to Miss Todd. One has to go back quite a ways to remember her and the speed that she had. Needless to say, she was very fast. When crossed with Old Pueblo she produced some very fast foals. Page was one but he resembled the Your Host family. Another son by Old Pueblo was Wee Folk, who was the prettiest, took after his sire in looks. Both were used some with QH mares with Wee Folk being the most successful of the two.
     My very good friend Bob Wheeler wanted to raise a champion sprinter so he had J. Ruken Jelks send Miss Todd to the court of Nashville hoping for a colt. The result was a filly named Famous Label. She was one of the prettiest TB mares I ever saw. You could have put her with any QH band of mares and never suspect that she was a TB. I asked Bob if she had any speed and this is what he told me. "Larry, I'm a fat man and I could have put on a pair of hip boots and kicked her in the butt on every stride".
     So there you go, but we did breed her to Petrone and she produced a filly named Pet Label who was a nice stakes winner.
    Forgive me for reminiscing about Miss Todd, but I couldn't help it. I loved that family and the connections.--March 11. 12:53 p. m.

    Sue Greene, Woodbridge Farm, Oakdale, CA: Mr. Sandri, your comments about Autism Awareness are pretty close to the truth. It is a real "Cinderella" story that began two years ago for Mr. Taboada at Pleasanton. 
     During that sale someone was "telling a tale" that this colt wouldn't scope and he also got loose behind the ring so was tagged a bad actor and Mr. Taboada was the lucky bidder (actually the only bidder!) and he bought this nice colt.
     We go to these sales to sell, so no reserves were placed on any of the Tannersmyman offspring, thus the price of $1,000.00 was all it took to purchase a G3 winner. We have always had faith in this nice stallion, and we are all very very proud of Autism Awareness and grateful to his connections for taking care of this colt. We wish them continued success and also with his full sister, who Mr. Taboada also purchased "very reasonably" last year at Pleasanton. She is named Cure Autism. I hope this colt's success helps bring just that to this debilitating disease.--March 10. 7:01 p. m.

     Don Sandri, Hayward, CA: Last year when I first saw a horse named "Autism Awareness" entered in a maiden race, I thought this is the worst named horse running. Several months and over a dozen races later the horse and connections threaten to become one of the more incredible stories of modern racing times. 
     Purchased for $1,000 at Nor Cal sale at Pleasanton and named in honor of an autistic son, the horse makes an early two year old debut with little success-taking almost a Seabiscuit like journey piling up loss after loss. Suddenly the light bulb goes on routing for the first time in early January. Seventeen days later he wires an allowance maiden field followed by the unbelievable victory in The El Camino Real Derby.
     This is the kind of story only our great sport is capable of conjuring and one that only a proud father with the love and commitment for a damaged son could package and sell to the "Racing Gods."--March 9. 8:53 p. m.

     Linda Vetter, Redwood City, CA: For Kelly's question on saddle clothes in Dubai -- the racing establishment there orders and lists the horses first by weight to be carried (Curlin was by far the highweight in his race, so easily "#1"), then by HR (horse ratings number, similar to merit post ratings and such done in UK and elsewhere), then alphabetically within those when the numbers are equal. 
     Then they assign the numbers in descending order from the top rated horse.   But they still draw for Post Positions (which can be weeks after the original nominations are listed and weights assigned), so there is seldom any relationship between the cloth numbers and the PP numbers they run from (or even how many actually run from the original nominations list).
     They don't have to worry about "linking entries" like 1A and 1B, since as you noted they don't do betting locally in Dubai, so that doesn't enter into it. Some other countries also often list all the horses by weights and/or ratings order, regardless of PP. So if you do bet remotely, or even just trying to watch a simulcast, make sure you know who is really who coming out of the gate!--March 3. 6:42 p. m.

     Barbara Lopes, Lakeport, CA: I agree with Barry. I really like to see what these two year olds brought as yearlings and what they are bringing now. Barry is lucky he lives in Pasadena so it's not far to go to the sale to check the prices out. Living way up here in the boonies of Northern Calif. makes it hard to get down to the sale unless you're really set on buying something, but I'll be watching for the sales results as soon as they are posted.
     Not too many people are as goofy as I am. I have all the sales catalogs and California Thoroughbred (formally Thoroughbred of California) magazines dating back to 1969. If anyone needs any information from all those years ago, just let me know and I'll look up the information for you.-February 29. 8:17 p. m.

     Kelly Bryan, Waco, TX: Yesterday Curlin was assigned saddle cloth #1 yet broke from pp 2, with no wagering in Dubai why does the saddle towel and pp not agree? Some of the other races on the card were like it as well. Anybody know?--February 29. 10:47 a. m.

     Barry Anthony, Pasadena, CA: I don't buy or sell at those 2-year-old sales but I get a big kick out of going to the Barretts March sale with my list of what people paid for those horses when they were yearlings
     I thought I'd have to give up my hobby when Don Engel discontinued his newsletter so I'm glad he's going to put them up on his website. I hope he gets them up in time for me to get all the prices written down in my catalog before I go to the sale. It really makes the sale more interesting.--February 29. 10:10 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Dave, I like your selection of stallions that you would like to see come to CA. Some of them might be available.
     The one that I like the best is Cat Thief, mainly because I'm a Storm Cat fan and I just loved No Robbery. His dosage profile is 7-4-13-0-0. I was hoping that it would be a little higher to the right, but the intermediate side is good.
     The only thing that bothers me about this list, other than Too Much Bling and The Green Monkey, who have no starters, is that all them have fallen off in production in the last two years. Some of their foal crops have been just as big with only half the starters and crop earnings fell from the millions to $200,000.
     I'd rather that they had started their careers in CA. They fall into that category of stallions that are imported once they start to drop in production in Kentucky. I can't remember the name that was applied to those.
     But, it is an interesting list of stallions. It is also important where you would stand them. Some farms just seem to be able to attract more mares than others.--February 28. 2:19 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: Here is a list of stallions I would be interested in seeing relocate to California. See what you think. Cat Thief, Grindstone, Horse Chestnut, Too Much Bling, Cape Town. AND how about The Green Monkey?--February 26. 9:21 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: To Barry--
     No one said that AI was OK in Australia in the first place. It was stated that because of the extent of live covers involved in stallions being shuttled, it would be of great value.
     To think that AI is not being used at all in any country, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the USA, is being very naive. This includes members of the Jockey Club Board.
     I'd even stick my neck out and say that there probably has been a winner of the Kentucky Derby that is a result of AI.--February 20. 9:05 a. m.

     Barry Anthony, Pasadena, CA: I don't know where this idea came from that AI is okay in Australia. I e-mailed a friend in Australia and asked him about that and this is his answer. 
     "Is artificial insemination permitted in Australia. No. It is also barred from breeding pacers but in the farming industry cattle etc. insemination is used a lot but back in New Zealand it is barred from the thoroughbred side but it is allowed for pacers. There has been a lot of debate in Australia about it for years. Cutting the cost of transport in the case of shuttle stallions. But if it was allowed we would have 1M Danehills in the country."
     So I guess that is the answer to that.
     About the number of mares bred. I checked on the internet and found a list of the number of mares bred to different stallions in Australia. The most popular stallions bred in the low 100's. Nothing like Kentucky where they're breeding more than 200 sometimes.--February 20. 8:02 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: This will be much shorter! I do appreciate your comments.
     Sherry, I can't tell you for sure the number of mares that are being bred to stallions in Australia. As you know the seasons between Aus. and the US are opposite from each other. 
      Because of this many popular stallions in the US shuttle back and forth and serve double duty, which only proves the value of AI. Some of them breed over 100+ mares here and then breed another 100+ down under.--February 18. 10:19 a. m.

     Sherry Miller, San Francisco, CA: The costs are so high now to breed and rear a racehorse. The purses don't ever seem to change much, or enough. Who wants to buy a yearling when it costs so much to get one to the races. Much of the time you have to stick your horse in a maiden claimer to recoup the money it has cost you in training fees to get to that point. Then, if the horse can run a bit, some sharpie claims it and all chance of making any money goes down the drain.  Rarely do you get back your purchase price and training costs from a maiden claimer.      The biggest losers could be the buyers at the sales. Maybe that is why the sales are way down. Maybe that is why fewer mares are being bred.
     And this AI business. Larry is right on spot here. With modern science there is no possibility of a pedigree mix up.Anyone notice how many mares the Australians stallions are covering?  Can anyone look that fact up for us?--February 18. 6:04 a. m.

     Ginny Johnston, Tularosa, NM: Thank you, Larry. That was a great 
explanation on the benefits of A.I. I am a fan now, I think the Jockey Club needs to come up to date.--February 17. 7:45 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA:  I think that we better leave the claiming races as they are. If I own a horse that wins a $20,000 claiming race I'm sure not going to take $10,000 for the horse. Also, I don't know of anyone in the racing business that will feel sorry enough for someone that claimed one for $20,000 and it ran back in the pack, and let them have it for $10,000. If you had one in  for $20,000 and knew it had a good chance of breaking down, hoping that it would get claimed and let's say that it did both, got claimed and broke down, would you go to the new owner and say, hey, you only have to give me $10,000 since he broke down?
     A couple letters back you brought up one of my favorite subjects when AI was mentioned. One that I have been an advocate of in all breeds for 45 years. It is also one that I have had a tremendous amount of experience with.
     I have written many letters to the Blood-horse and Thoroughbred Times about AI, but they fall on deaf ears. The Jockey Club just won't talk about it as well. I even thought that when Frank "Scoop" Vessels was appointed to the Jockey Club Board that we might see a ratification of the AI rule as it now stands, but it hasn't happened.
     There are many reasons to change the rule and allow AI in the TB industry and they are quite obvious, and very few reasons to prohibit its use.
     First, it would make a lot of people honest. It is cleaner in its proper procedure. It is much safer for the mare, stallion, and those in the breeding shed. DNA testing is required anyway on the resulting foal, eliminating any mix-up as to parentage.
     I really don't believe that it would lower the breeding fee in a very popular stallion. Those are covering 200+ mares a year now and I don't think they are going to get 400.
     The important thing to me is not that I can breed more mares, but that I can still breed as many mares and save my stallion at the same time. At the present time some of these heavily booked stallions are breeding every 8 hours or three times a day. Using AI I could breed just as many by collecting the stallion every other day or each day at the most, thereby preserving his fertility into the future.
     It is almost always true that a TB stallion has more libido that a QH stallion. If the TB stallion is very fertile, then his ability to settle mares is only determined on how many times you can breed him in a day. After you have depleted his spermatic reserve (which only takes about 7 days of every day breeding) you are only getting what he can manufacture in an 8 hour period. Over time this puts a lot of stress on his ablility to manufacture spermatozoa.
     Now when we talk about shipping cooled semen, then there are other matters that come into play. If you are a breeder that keeps your mares at home you have the advantage of not having to ship the mares from your farm. Semen can be shipped to you in an Equitainer designed for that. This way you do not pay for mare care, transportation, and less chance of exposing your mare or foal to disease.
      There are many farms that are designed only to board mares year around. They could manage the mare and then call for semen when she is at the most opportune time to ovulate. Again, the mare does not have to leave the farm, lessening the chances of injury in transporting, breeding, and disease.
     If I was much younger I would build me a stallion farm for about 4 or 5 good stallions and all mares would be bred with shipped cooled semen. You would call me the day before collection, stop by and pick up the semen or have it shipped to you by FedEx (it gets there by 10:30 in the morning) and then breed your mare. It would be like driving through Starbucks to pick up your coffee.
    You would never have to have a mare on the place. Think about that breeding farm managers and owners!--February 16. 6:44 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: If they vet checked the horses after the race, there wouldn't BE any claims!--February 16. 11:20 a. m.

     Priscilla Clark, Tranquility Farm, Tehachapi, CA: Don Engel [Editor's Notebook] is right to mention that we must be vigilant that the CARMA fund from TOC goes to the appropriate horses. However, I think TOC is keenly aware of that, as well as going to programs that are reputable and a credit to racing. 
     If anyone should wonder if Thoroughbred retirement programs are necessary and effective, I suggest they take a look at the horses adopted from Tranquility Farm in 2007 and the horses we are caring for in 2008. It is sobering to realize that with a very few exceptions these horses would have no other place to go. February 16. 10:13 a. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: Well, if you really want to twist claiming races, how about permitting a vet exam after the race with the right to withdraw the claim if the horse fails?--February 15. 8:40 a. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: How about a twist for claiming races. The "buyer" can enter a claim for as little as 50% of the claiming price of the race. After the race the owner has the option of accepting or rejecting that claim. Just a thought.--February 15. 7:48 a. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: If thoroughbred breeders and the Jockey Club would wake up and allow us to AI as the QH people do, we could produce foals at a lower cost. True, it would lower stud fees, but I don't own a stallion. I would like to breed to Salt Lake for $5,000. It would be a whole lot more economically viable to use Ky. stallions, also.--February 14. 10:02 a. m.

     Cecil Suggs, San Diego, CA: Ginny Johnston, it is Because they typically inseminate (or ship) more than a single mare per collection.--February 13.  1:05 p. m.
     Ginny Johnston, Tularosa, NM: Someone please tell me why a good thoroughbred stallion is always offered at a lower price to Quarter Horses? A foal is a foal and the only difference to me is the distance they run. Besides, Salt Lake is an older stallion - he ought to be standing for a lesser fee to approved thoroughbred mares at this stage of his life. 
     This makes me think that artificial insemination breeding needs to come to the thoroughbred industry. Maybe the stud fees would go down if we could ship semen instead of having live cover which needs alot more attention. A.I. is a safer process for everyone. Some day the Jockey Club will relent. Parentage verification is still required by the other breeds that do A.I. 
     In New Mexico everyone breeds the thoroughbreds to quarter horse stallions or the thoroughbred stallions to quarter mares using A.I. and it saves time on shipping and boarding. We are breeding our thoroughbreds this year to a quarter horse to take advantage of the speed and shorter distances in our mares pedigrees. With farm rates going up and up not to mention horse transport rates, it is easier to ship semen and take your mare to your local vet. 
     Oh well, I still cannot understand why the fee is reduced. Good horses can come from both breeds.--February 13. 12:13 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: I would enjoy a freshman sire contest. Include me in.--February 12. 9:21 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Most of you readers will miss this because you don't take the Quarter Racing Record magazine.
     In the Feb. 2008 issue on page 29 there is a full page ad on Salt Lake standing to QH mares for a fee of $5000 and shipped cooled semen is available to QH mares.
     His fee to TB mares is $10,000.
     One line says, "Be one of the first to breed your AQHA mare to Salt Lake, sure to become a Leading Sire in Quarter Horse Racing." I really don't think that is going to happen because he is 19 years old this year. That makes his first crop of QH foals going to the track in 2011 and he will be 22 years old. That's getting a pretty late start.
     A little side note of interest is that Donnie McFadden, owner of Billingsley Creek Ranch, and I were watching his times and knew his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. Donnie asked Wayne if there was a chance that he could buy Salt Lake.
Wayne informed us that Salt Lake just had too much class for our operation. If I remember right, Donnie said, "I didn't know that you could have too much class, Wayne." Well, as you know BCR never bought him, but if they had he would have had a much better chance to cover QH mares at a lot younger age. And who knows what might have happened as he was a very fast horse.
     P. S. Aren't you going to let me defend my title? Don says that we need a few more pledges for our California Freshman Sire Contest to go!--February 11. 3:46 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: No, Eric. No one cares.-February 5. 7:45 a. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Right on, Don. Russell has done it the hard way, riding $4,000 horses like they were stakes horses. Tons of ability and even more heart. My daughter is married to his brother Jeff and the family is so thrilled that he is getting the notice he so deserves.--February 3. 8:47 a. m.

     Don Sandri, Hayward, CA: Russell Baze's victory aboard Two Step Cat yesterday at Golden Gate Fields is an outstanding example and the perfect metaphor for why he has reached a plateau that few riders, if any, will ever surpass. 
     Congratulations on an outstanding accomplishment and doing it on a $4,000 claimer-going between horses, riding heels and elbows, head down and putting his nose in front at the wire. 
     Russell, you are awesome.--February 2. 8:14. a. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: I'm not familiar with the webcam as I watch on cable, but I would guess they felt no need to have it on without live racing. I can imagine with all they money pouring out to try to fix the track they would want to conserve somewhere.
     It must be a nightmare for them and the poor horseman. Imagine paying $100 a day to train your horse and having no place to run. Golden Gate is reaping the benefits as they are shipping a lot more to run here than is the norm and the fields are back to where they were at the beginning of the meet.
     Of course, paying $700 round trip is a big nut to add on to the expenses. One can only hope they get it figured out before any permanent damage is done to the racing colony.--January 31. 6:01 p. m.

     Eric Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA: Has anyone noticed that the SA website 'webcam' of the track has been "unavailable" for the past two days. Does anyone care? Coincidental with the main track problematic situation?--January 31. 8:39 a. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Hands on owners like Larry are a rarity and it would be far better for the business if that wasn't the case. But it is the case and the majority of owners aren't around on pre-race days or due to location, even on race day. 
     How can we punish them for something they had no part in. Punishing the real culprit will have the same effect. They will lose owners when forced to vacate the grounds during suspensions. We are dealing with performance enhancing concoctions as well as narcotics and the "over the permitted level" violations.       Having worked in barns for years, I have seen a lack of communication resulting in a horse being medicated twice and I know of cases where grooms have continued to add bute to the feed, not realizing that the vet was going to IV it for the race. 
     I know of cases where horses where being treated with bronchodialtors and through poor communication, the groom did not stop the administration in a timely manner which resulted in a Class 3 violation. I also recall times in past where feed was found to be the culprit. 
     Granted these are all trainer responsibilities but they should have a chance to tighten up the ship and make sure it doesn't happen again. It would be a shame to bench a horse and penalize the owner for human error after one those offenses or the trainer for that matter. With human error in the equation I believe you should  have a little leeway but there needs to be something like the 3 strikes your out long enough to do some damage rule, unlike this new trend of probation and suspended sentences.
     The average trainer out there is just trying to do their job as best as possible.  It's the select few that think they can break the rules with little consequence that need to learn that if they employ practices that taint and damage the industry they will also be damaged. 
     I also think asking the CHRB to suspend a horse for 90 days because he could probably use the time off should not be the intention of the rule and is more like asking them to become involved in the training process. A process that should be between the owner and their trainer.
     There is obviously not a simple solution or it would be in place. I just wish that all the states could get together with some type of uniform program and that it was stricter than the present  one. As Larry said, we need to attract new people and that will be a long hard road if we don't offer them a trustworthy product.--January 30. 5:55 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: This year in 2008 I'll be licensed as an owner in two states, Washington and Idaho. I feel as an owner that it is the responsibility of myself and the trainer to see that my horses run within the rules of racing as they pertain to these states. If the trainer violates those rules then I will be forced to take my horses from him or her and give them to someone else. They ought to be smart enough to know that if a particular horse is going to be set down for 90 days and that they will lose the horse, they're less likely to use anything that will result in a bad test.
     If we want to present and promote horse racing as a product that allows betting on an even field, or bringing new players into the industry, then we got to clean it up.
     1st, 2nd, and 3rd time offenses is like taking a person on drugs and placing them in rehab for 30 days and then letting them out. 99% of them will repeat if they don't stay longer. Read the magazines !
     Look at it this way. If the trainer or owner or both decide to give something to mask pain from a slight injury and then comes back with a bad test without breaking down, which is better, to force the horse not to run for 90 days or run him again and completely break him down and in the process injure a jockey or even worse?
     90 days off will help a lot of these horses. If the horse was sound and class 1, 2, or 3 banned substances was used just to enhance his performance then you have to accept the consequences.
     It's true that a horse can't ask for the drug, but it can't say, "hey, I'm sore and can't go anymore, don't give me something and make me go."--January 30. 4:11 p. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: I have to side with the owners on the issue of suspending the horse for medication violations. 
     Having worked for many top trainers and also having trained for over 17 years, I can testify that the majority of owners have no idea what is being given to their horse until they receive the vet bill. Another controversial fact, not all vet bills reflect what was really given to the horse. I'm sure there are a few rare cases of very hands-on owners who also might be compliant in wrong doings but to punish the majority I think would be an injustice. Stronger punishments for the responsible party is the answer. 
     If the ones that walk the tight rope and get caught can no longer serve out their suspensions sitting by the pool and training over the phone there might be a little more reluctance to bend or break the rules. If suspended trainers had to remove all their belongings and vacate the grounds they would think twice. Not only would they be giving up their beloved barns but I would have to think that owners would not be too happy with having their horse booted and might look elsewhere for a trainer. 
     There would have to be some sort of guidelines obviously, we don't want to be throwing the trainers out over minor offenses or for first time offenses as some times things happen. But the habitual offenders, and we all know who they are, are going to continue to walk the tight rope until firmer punishments are enacted. 
     The other sports are cracking down on their offenders, we should do the same.--January 30. 1:45 p. m.

     Eric Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA: Horse suspensions? This is wrong. Period.
     If a football team doctor (with or without coach's knowledge) gives a 'steroid cocktail' to a unknowingly and unwilling player (who should question the MD anytime and not be totally ignorant) and that player ends up with a test that is positive, who gets the stiff penalty? MD, Coach or Player? 
     In that scenario the player (or the horse in our industry) has no knowledge of what is being given him or her, so why stop his or her career? Fine and suspend both the trainer, his or her veterinarian and then look at the owners only if they are compliant. 
     Innocent equine athletes are truly innocent, I do not think anyone in the history of horse racing has had a four-legged athlete ask them for something illegal to be placed in their body.--January 30. 11:45 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Anyone that is interested in the integrity of racing needs to read this: Ontario enacts horse suspension for drug violations........
The Ontario Racing Commission has enacted stiff regulations related to owner and trainer responsibility, including an automatic 90-day suspension for "any" horse testing positive for a non-therapeutic drug.
     The automatic three month suspension will apply to any horse testing positive for Class 1,2,or 3 banned substances or for exceeding the permitted level of total carbon dioxide (milkshaking). I'm sure other fines will apply. I think all racing commissions need to adopt this policy!ou can read it all by clicking here.--January 29. 3:50 p. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Come on folks and join the fun of selecting the leading freshman sires of 2008. I'll bet that if a free breeding was the prize you would all enter. Well, that's not going to happen.
     Don has come up with a program that will give the sole winner, based on his point system, a prize of $500 (I can buy a new fly fishing pontoon boat for that). We need at least 16 entries to make it go.
     I knew a guy that always said, "money talks and BS walks." I've already pledged my $25 and have my picks all selected and it's a big secret. Maybe we can pay $25 for each selection, kinda like boxing an exacta, because I don't know if we have 16 different writers to Voices. Surely there must be over that amount that read Voices.
     After the entries close I'll reveal my choices so that you will know who to breed your mare to.--January 29. 9:56 a. m.

     Mike Morales, Delano, CA: Why does CHRB let trainers put horses that are in very bad shape ready to brake down in claiming races? I think they should let everyone know if a horse has been injured before it races or reason for the layoff and put injury on the PP.--January 28. 7:11 a. m.

     Erma Shultz, Bullhead City, AZ: Don Engel is most certainly correct in the observation that an increasingly tarnished Cal Bred reputation is the most direct result of the Sunshine Millions [The Editor's Notebook, January 27]. The indirect result is the inexplicable notion that since Cal Breds can run for such large purses, they must be good. "Eligible for the Sunshine Millions and Cal Bred premiums"; we hear it from the auctioneers. The size of these purses is meaningless if the format is distorted and the Cal Bred runners as a group regularly lack the overall quality of the Florida Breds.
     This is somewhat "carrot and stick" as I see it. The current Cal Bred subsidy program encourages:
     1. Producing horses that can and will run in California.
     2. Being satisfied with horses that "hit the board" at any level (hardly matching the legislative intent)
     3. Perpetuates breeding programs based on HOPE  vs. REASON and ANALYSIS.
     We reap what we sow and I tend to reluctantly agree with you more and more. The situation has devolved into permanence after years of being "suckled" by the ill considered existing subsidy program and an inert CTBA.--January 28. 5:01 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Don is submitting articles faster than I can comment on, so I will try to respond to all of the last three.
     First: About jockeys getting their commission even if the horse gets disqualified by "willfully" being drugged. I could lean towards the jockey's side on this, providing that he or she is innocent of any wrongdoing. Take the purse from the owner and trainer, give the jockey his or her commission and then redistribute the money. Now the question comes up, what about the jockey that rode the horse that is moved up to first? Do they get first place commission? They either didn't ride good enough or have stock enough to win the race. Maybe in this case their commission should be added together and then split in half. Oh, don't forget that the Vet might be one of those willful doers.
     Second: :Licenses--There must be more people licensed in the horse industry than any other in business, unless it is the federal government. We have a license for a stall mucker, groom, hot walker, asst. trainer, trainer, owner, vet, tractor driver, maintenance man, gardener, security person, gate crew, pony person, saddle valet, jockey, jockey's agent, vendor, sales agent. Now they want you to have a consignor's license. And to top it off none of these licenses prevent fraud or wrongdoing. Next you will be required to have a license in order to own a stallion, a farm license to stand a stallion and then you will probably have to have a breeder's license in order to raise foals for our lucrative sales market.
     Third: The Sunshine Series. Sorry folks, but the fact remains that Florida-breds on the whole are just better than Cal-breds. Bob Baffert and all the rest that train in that league that run for the Sunshine Series will have more Florida-breds in their barn than Cal-breds. They can even buy the very best Florida-breds at a Kentucky sale. I'd love to see the Cal-breds win it, but the way it is set up it is a steep hill to climb. January 22. 9:14 a. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: If TOC wants to clean up corruption (Editor's Notebook, January 20), they'd be well advised to start with trainers. I can think of two cases in the not very distant past in which trainers licensed in California paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuit brought by clients that they'd swindled.
     Neither of those trainers lost their licenses. Why? Seems to me that the CHRB should have revoked their licenses permanently. Forever.
     But has TOC done anything to see that they lost their licenses? Not a thing.
     I don't have any doubt that agents do their share of stealing money from clients, but some of the biggest crooks of all are high-profile trainers who take kickbacks while advising rich clients. Maybe they're too important for TOC to tackle.
     Does TOC just like to deal in abstract issues and rules but do nothing when it sees real cases of bad wrong-doing? All sound and no fury.--January 21. 10:02 a. m.

     Janet Griffin/Gretchen Graves, Bangtail Farm, Mad River, CA: With Southern California racing in turmoil, Northern California racing's status uncertain with only one track meeting CHRB's requirements for synthetic surfaces we breeders forge on. We have four mares in foal and two for a long time client.
      Plans for 2008 are just firmed up with Redcliff Bay (Smokester) IF to Marino Marini going to Game Plan. Elusive Ashlee (Chequer) IF to Uncle Denny going to Deputy Commander. Dazzle Cat (Distinctive Cat) and Muddy Creek Molly (Darby Creek Road) both IF to Uncle Denny going back to Uncle Denny.
     First foals are due in February and on through April so as we prepare for 2008's breeding season, we wish you a successful and uneventful year.--January 20. 11:37 a. m.

     Jean Marie Smith, Pasadena, CA: TOC has some practical ideas about protecting buyers. Honesty at thouroughbred sales should be a priority for everyone. Actually, it should not even be an issue but because some buyers have found out post purchase about things that were done to horses that shouldn't have been done, we have to go to extensive lengths now to protect buyers.
     Having read the editorials on Don Engel's website from January 20th and January 6th, I do have one big question: Who is looking out for the sellers? Agents, consignors, sellers, whatever you prefer to call them--what rights do they have when the buyer defaults? If the sale company is under no obligation to pay, then all the honesty in the world on the part of the seller goes for nothing. 
     What are the sales companies doing to protect the seller from the unscrupulous buyer who defaults or refuses to pay without reason? Anyone can get credit by falsifying a credit application, bid on the horses, ship them to Mexico and then not pay. Then, how do you find the horse to get it back? Then, the good news to the seller/breeder is that the sales company is under no obligation to pay. 
     After, the seller who has in good faith honestly sold the horse only to be told there will be no payout. Sellers must pay the sales prep to the agent and a commission to both the sale company and the agent before getting their final settlement which may even become a loss when actually paid.
     So tell me--who in all of this is looking out for the seller? It is great to put all these ideas forward to protect the buyer, but who guarantees the seller will even get paid?--January 20. 747 a. m.

     Ginny Johnston, Tularosa, NM: As long as people who are in the horse business see horses as objects or possessions and not as individuals with personality and souls, inhumane treatment will continue. 
     I ask one question of everyone: How well do you "know" the horses you bred, sell and race? 
     Economics dictates that we sell--but do the buyers get to know the horse for who it is? Do they even care? Objects, simply, objects. Slaughter houses were the answer. Now, what is the answer? How about humane euthanasia? Why would anyone want to see a horse suffer? Then again, why do we let our human relations suffer when terminally ill?
     Someone give me some concrete reasons as to why a horse should suffer a cruel death? We have laws that say it is cruel to murder a human--why is it okay to murder a horse or any other animal?
     We should all be ashamed for caring so little about what brings great joy when we win.--January 15. 7:20 p. m.

     David Hoover, Grants Pass, OR: Regarding free stallion fees: While giving complimentary seasons may not be good business for established studs, it has worked quite well in many cases for young horses. We have at least two examples in California of this and those horses are currently enjoying considerable success because of the number of mares they got.--January 15. 7:50 a. m.

     Mary Forte, Solana Beach, CA: The USA equine slaughter houses were closed down because they were not enforcing humane slaughter standards.
     To understand the problem first, one needs to read how animal slaughter is defined as- humane. 
     Problems which constitute animal abuse, or in-humane slaughter proceedures are scored on a scale.
     For instance, when using a captive-bolt method, the bolt should ideally, stun the animal on the first hit. Repeatedly missing the mark, and having 3, 4, or 5 misses or more, would be considered unacceptable.
     The  USA equine slaughter houses became problematic because of the methods being used, and, no one was able to enforce humane rules, daily. (the USDA was suppose to be "supervising.")
     Obviously, other Countries' reported methods, such as repeated stabbings are more abusive, but in Canada...do they use a single bullet with a silencer?
     Under the brilliant guidance of Temple Grandin, many cows are slaughtered humanely, in a acceptable atmosphere where there is little or no panic. The cow is steadied-still during the bolt application. (Now compare a cow with a steadied head, and a short neck to a horse with a long neck that turns quickly, jumping around in a box, avoiding the captive-bolt sounds and pressure..)
      I have great respect for Dr. Temple Grandin. Her contributions to the livestock industry and animal welfare are extraordinary......However....... There are not enough Temple Grandin's to be at all slaughter facilities, at all times....
     Videos taken at the (now closed) USA horse slaughter houses showed the following violations: Horses in a panic situations, suffering repeated  "missed" captive-bolt blows to their faces, necks and shoulders. Workers had difficulty hitting the stun area because a fearful horse in a box did not allow  a captive-bolt humane slaughter to occur...horses being hung when not yet fully stunned.... Another problem was violating transportation rules with horses packed together in cattle trucks for days...Yet another problem was horse identification and killer buyers purchasing horses under false pretenses......
     Perhaps if the horses had a more humane death at the now closed-USA slaughter houses, there would have been less of an uproar from people who cared about a horse deserving... a more humane death....--January 14. 2:58 p. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Track management at both Northern California tracks are missing an opportunity. At Bay Meadows they have Friday nite racing, cheap admission, parking, beer and food. They fill the parking lot. On other days, no business. Last Saturday at Golden Gate Fields, cheap admission, parking, beer and food. The bottom lot was so full we couldn't get our vans out to take the runners home and had to wait for the traffic to clear.
     I have said since they started the Friday nite racing that they should do something similar every day or at least have free parking if they want to compete with other forms of entertainment.
     There is no charge to park at a casino. In the 70's I had an old friend who ran the Comstock and he once told me, better to give free rooms and get the bodies in the casino than to have empty rooms and empty tables. Still track management acts like no one has thought of the benefits of cheaper admission and larger crowds. 
     We need to attract new people. What better way to do it than to get them in free? Free general admission and parking, charge for better seats. If they become race goers, they will want the better seats.--January 14. 1:10 p. m.

     Gina Angelo, Santa Barbara, CA: Considering the problems that Don Engel points out [Editor's Notebook, January 13], it seems to me that the people who wanted the slaughterhouses closed would have done more for those unfortunate unwanted horses by working to make sure that they received merciful, painless deaths rather than keeping them alive to face probably painful existences.--January 13. 11:58 a. m.

     Leigh Ann Howard, Bonsall, CA: Now, now, Larry, you are getting entirely too serious here . . . as a mare owner I'd love to see a prize of a free breeding to the winning freshman sire. The only way to do that would be for all the entrants to chip in to cover the fee and the winner 'takes all'.
     But as a farm manager I know how those freebees kill your business.  I also know the farms who stand stallions for other people are going to go broke. Especially if the stallion is popular and gets lots of mares. Anyone who believes the farms make it on board money is smoking dope.
     The only way to make it on a farm is for the farm to own the stallions it stands.  And hold to the advertised fee, like Donnie did and Don Cohn is doing at Ballena Vista. And be very careful who you do business with . . .people who notoriously don't pay will kill an operation very quickly.
     You are 'right on,' my friend!--January 12. 7:05 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA:  I have not seen a list of the stallions that will be eligible for the Freshman Sire list. I'm sure Don is working on that.
     I am in favor of leaving the award for picking the top horses as it is, "fun and bragging rights." I am absolutely amazed that a person standing stallions would suggest that the owner of the top stallion give the winner a "free' breeding.
    The outside world must think that the whole horse industry is made up of moochers and beggars. Whenever the subject of money comes up everyone wants a free breeding. If a farm wants to do that, that it is their business, but for us to expect them to is another matter. Even some people standing stallions expect it, but I don't see them giving free breedings to their stallions.
    When Donnie McFadden started Billingsley Creek Ranch it was a new fresh business. It was top of the art and we were provided the best equipment that enabled us to provide the best service to our clients. As breeding manager I advised him to treat all clients the same. Everyone paid the same advertised fee.
     Only one time did we come up with a reduced rate of 5 mares or more, and they didn't have to be your own. You could bring a friend into the group. As a result we picked up very few new clients, but everyone that found out about it was a friend of so and so's and was in their group. I can't remember what the loss to the ranch was as they were all old clients anyway. Most of them didn't know they had so many friends.
     We stood 4 stallions and then it hit. Here came every club and association asking us to donate to stallion auctions and soon that list was about 12 - 15. Donnie and I sat down and figured that the first 12 - 15 mares to each stallion's book was free, which came to about $55,000 per year. When a farm's total income is made by stallion breeding fees and yearlings sold it is almost impossible to keep doing that and stay in business and you soon get tired of it.
     I've managed stallions and breeding farms for 45 years and it is still the same. The applications keep coming from clear across the country from California to Florida.
    Pick out as good a stallion as you can afford and one that complements your mare and pay the fee. If the farm offers some kind of special conditions and your mare qualifies then that's great.--January 10. 11:03 a. m.

     Janet Griffin and Gretchen Graves, Bangtail Farm, Mad River, CA: Wishing all a healthy and successful 2008. 
     Troubles at Santa Anita and problems to be faced with racing in NorCal but most breeders forge on. Our plans for this year include four mares currently in foal to Uncle Denny, three of our own and one belonging to a long time client. Our Redcliff Bay (Smokester) is IF to Marino Marini and booked to Game Plan.  Elusive Ashlee (Chequer) IF to Uncle Denny and booked to Deputy Commander. Both Muddy Creek Molly (Darby Creek Road) and Dazzle Cat (Distinctive Cat) are IF to Uncle Denny and returning to him again for 2008. We anxious to see all our new foals and hope the Uncle Denny's are especially good as we've become a member of his syndicate. 
     Have uneventful foalings and good racing.--January 9. 9:02 a. m.

     Al Andrews, San Diego, CA: My heart goes out to Santa Anita's owner and management. They've done all the right things and been failed by the people who created and installed Cushion Track. I've seen several stories quoting the Cushion Track people as saying they'll install a new surface. I haven't seen anywhere that they are going to pay for it. I guess that's one of those things that go without saying. If racing has to be canceled, they ought to have to pay damages, too.--January 5. 6:02 a. m.

     Sandy Nickols, San Pablo, CA: Most of the horses labeled infirmed and unusable are just no longer suitable for racing. I do a lot of work for a rescue farm and given time to heal, a large number of these badly injured horses go on to have useful lives in other areas or at least become comfortable enough to finish out their lives healthy and happy. I think they have a right to that and can't join in with those who think these animals are disposable. I believe that becoming an owner of any animal is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly. 
     We in the industry are responsible for putting these horses at risk and I just think if the horse is capable of healing to the point of being comfortable and pain free, that we should be responsible for seeing that it happens instead of taking the easy way out.--January 3. 3:01 p. m.

     Leigh Ann Howard, Bonsall, CA:  Well, I THOUGHT it would be Decarchy. I even bought a weanling by him a couple years back. She has not yet won because she is in New York and at least two of her races have been canceled because of bad weather. Looks like it would have been a four-way tie if I had entered! Surely there is a lesson to be learned here...racetrack saying would be:  "You snooze, you lose".
     Maybe you could figure out a way to have the winner of this year's contest get a free breeding to the winner...??--January 3. 7:22 a. m.

     Larry Stevens, Kennewick, WA: Well, I finally reached the status of "World Famous" for something. I need to thank Don [see The Editor's Notebook, January 2 entry] for coming up with a plan to break the tie and also to Capsize for doing his part.
     I know this is for fun (it's always for money "after" I win), but I want to explain the handicap that I had to face. It looks like I was in good company, but, really, I have been away from the Thoroughbred industry for quite a while. Most of you know that almost all of my career and living has been with Quarter Horses, except for the time that I spent in California at California Stud, El Rancho Murrieta, Flag Is Up Farms and manager at San Luis Rey Downs, but my love for the Throughbred has never waned. 
     My line to people when they questioned how much TB blood was in a QH was this: "The only horse that a TB hurt was the one that didn't have any TB blood in his pedigree." I still feel that way!
     I'm not trying to promote any particular stallion here, but when I drew my lines of balance on Decarchy and studied his pedigree he just represents California racing to me and I had to use him on top. Capsize pulled me through and did a respectable job in a tiebreaker.
     I'm kinda excited about this being World Famous, so if you don't mind having a QH man pick your future matings for you send an e-mail, ha! Not sure it qualifies me to hang out my shingle.--January 2. 12:15 p. m.

     Sally Reid, St George, UT:  I was not aware that owners are reluctant to put horses down if they became unusable. People in our area don't hesitate to have the vet come out and put infirmed horses to sleep. What's the problem with doing that? I have heard that people are now dumping unwanted horses in farmers pastures in eastern Kentucky.--January 1. 7:13 a. m.

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