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2/11/07 07:39 pm

I'm back at the track full time, I guess, until I break down again. Teri found my journal! I haven't advertised this blog in any way, except to let my daughter and the Derby List know about it, but Teri was googling one of her smarmy owners who isn't paying his bills and ran across this blog when punching in one of her horse's names. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing. Oh well, I still won't pull any punches. Teri has many faults, but I still would rather work for her than anyone else out there, for the most part. She and I both love horses and that's the basis for mutual respect. That's one for you Teri, if you are reading.

We ran two today and won two, both supreme efforts by the horses, Fly Misty Fly and Spring's Golden Girl. We might even win one tomorrow.

Rewoven was running today and was pulled up on the turn and vanned off. I saw her in the paddock and realized something was wrong, she was trembling like a leaf, and standing wide in front. Dr. Root said she was ok after the race, it didn't appear to be a leg problem. I do hope she will be alright, she is a sweet filly.

1/30/07 07:49 pm - The Racehorse

After Barbaro's death, many people in the general population will ask why, and why we do this to horses. Make them race, whip them and ask them to give their lives so we can win a bet and make money.

Americans nowadays have no connection to the horse other than what they see on television or read in history books. They see the horse as a pet. The horse has never been a pet. They were our early form of transportation, analagous to the car. They were a tool of war more important in their time than the airplane or the tank, and more long-lived in their usefulness. They were a transforming tool of agriculture, as was the bovine, but much more multi-tasking than that creature. In fact, I can think of no animal that can be used more creatively, and is more adaptable, than the equine. You can train one to ride into war fearlessly, fly on airplanes, ride in a three by six compartment for hours at a time, plow your field, drag your logs, carry around your helpless human children afflicted by accident or disease without your worry, and carry your affluent children to victory in show events. And these are herd animals, prey animals, not like dogs that naturally will cling to humans as pack mates. I see horses as more akin to cats than dogs, they are with us because they like us and want to be with us, and if they don't they leave, one way or another. Horses are more forgiving of our faults than any other animal, and will put up with extraordinary amounts of physical and emotional pain and still be able to bond with humans, given the right human.

The most salient trait of the horse is running. It's not what thoroughbreds are bred to do exclusively, it is what horses are meant to do, to flee predators, but also for fun and enjoyment. A horse is never happier than when running full out. Well, maybe also eating a huge bran mash after running full out. This trait can easily be turned into a competitive one, as horses love to beat each other, theirs being a pecking order society.

We just had a filly win her fifth out last week, (The Cops Holme) and she's insufferable since, strutting her stuff, always at the front of the stall trying to grab attention and a pet, extremely proud of herself. A natural racehorse, she gets it. She knows what her purpose in life is, and she likes it. It is up to us to make sure we do not use her enthusiasm up, and hurt her, because right now she knows not what could happen to her. But she is the type that will give her life for the glory. Not all will. But those that will we have to be careful with, and not allow them to die needlessly. It is a huge responsibility that many trainers and horsemen don't acknowledge.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most racehorses really like what they do, they are not being abused. They are given a chance to reach a potential most horses can't know, a window on a different world, more akin to the wild horse. They are tough, and know it. Winners, and know it. Proud, and expect the best treatment, and get it, if they are good. But even if they have little ability, they should be treated well. Most do try hard, and the ones that aren't cut out for racing can find other careers given the chance. What we do to the least of them is a reflection on our society, as is what we do to the least of our own species.

1/30/07 05:39 pm - Barbaro

Rather than sophomoric prose and extremely bad poetry, I found this poem for a young athlete dead too soon. Which Barbaro was, ultimately, and nothing else. Just a horse, after all. It all depends on what your definition of a horse is.


To an Athlete Dying Young
By: A. E. Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, slip betimes away
From field where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low of lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girls.

1/9/07 10:05 pm

I'm a CTTA groom. a cover the trainer's ass groom. I've tried to quit a few times, in fact a few times over the past three years. and successfully a couple of times. But I always get dragged back in. Now it's a most racetracky reason. I mentioned Sweet Littledarian quite a while back, and how he was a most promising 2 year old. He did ok his first start, and then I was away for a while, so didn't know what was going on with him. It turned out he had pharyngitis, for whatever reason, and it was causing him to flip his soft palate. I read a paper recently on chronic sub-clinical pharyngitis being able to cause this, and Teri and I talked about it. She treated him with x-stem, which has been around a while, and he came back bouncing. Julian, trainer/groom in absentia, was doing very well with him, and told me he was going to run well two days ago. Teri needed help that day, and I showed up. Julian was well wasted before Darian ran, and I told him I'd go to the test barn for him if he needed me to, and it turned out that way. Darian ran a huge race, getting headed while racing three wide all the way, and bulling his way to the front. He won by less than two lengths, but that was deceiving, he could have won by many. His gallop out was the most impressive, none of them got by him and he was a steenth of a mile out when they all pulled up. We had to wait almost 5 minutes for him to show up when we were all in the winner's circle. He's a serious horse, especially by PM standards. He paid 42 bucks to win, 24 to place, and Julian had 50 across on him. That was when it all turned bad. We had a horse in the sixth, Darian was in the fourth, so I had to depend on Julian to get back and do the other horse, and he managed that, but I was worried. Darian took a long time to pee, he was a shy boy. (By the way, blinkers sometimes help a nervous or shy horse to pee, if you don't already know that). So I was late back to the barn, and Julian was more wasted, and had half inch roll of hundreds. Recipe for disaster. I tried to get him to give me half, so he wouldn't lose it, and he almost did, but not quite. Had to buy a senorita, you know. (He said that, not me). I finished up at the barn, and thought about going to the frontside, but knowing I had to be at the barn in the morning and the way Teri was going to be partying I decided against it. Bad mistake. I could have prevented the ensueing mayhem, at least I think I had a chance. Not being there, this is second hand telling, but verified by Many People. Fucking Teri, being Teri, was getting drunk, and when Julian showed up, started buying him shots of tequila. She has no sense at all. Julian is a mean drunk. She leg-wrestled him and beat him. Now I have no idea, really, what leg-wrestling is, but I thing it has something to do with lying down on the floor and entangling legs with the intent of flipping the other ass over teakettle. At least that's the way it was described to me. I'm sure this pissed Julian off greatly, though he remembers nothing of it. Mind you this is all going on in the confines of the frontside of the track, with racing officials and stewards still on the premises, though racing was over. The jocks started coming out, and apparently Julian got in a fight with a couple of them, and Teri and crew started realizing they had a problem. They tried to get him out to the truck, with the help of a couple of jocks. Teri's son Ben said he tossed him in the truck twice, but he fought his way out, punched a jock that was helping, and got punched himself. Then the General Manager of the track, with security, was out there, and Julian pulled a knife and threatened to kill him. Well, Julian couldn't have killed a fly with his fist at that moment, so no one was really worried for their safety, and they didn't even call the police, though that's not the story I got from Teri that night when she told me he was locked up and I needed to take care of 17 head in the morning. She had as bad a blackout as Julian. Called me up 20 minutes later to tell me the same thing. I got there very early, thinking the whole thing would be on me, and we had two to run. Julian was there! And had all the stalls done by six in the morning. He's really an incredible guy and indefatigable worker, but he's a worthless nasty drunk as well. Teri spent a lot of time with the stewards trying to get him a pass, but of course it didn't work. I'm surprised they didn't sanction her. Before they escorted him off the grounds I gave him a ride home, and asked him if he wanted to see his six year old son grow up. He said he did. I'm sure I'll never see him again, unless it's in the news. He's headed for Nebraska. Watch out.

12/22/06 03:53 pm

Rewoven was claimed. She ran a good third, compromised by bad ride. A very sweet filly, I hope Root takes care of her. Lots of breakdowns lately, fatal. It's easy to blame it on the track, but the fact is a lot of people here don't know what they're doing, and the rest don't care what they do. To make money, that is. I suppose that's one reason I'm broke. Don't really mind being broke most of the time. I'm not working much now; too sick, and not many people outside of Teri would hire me out there anyway. I get a lot of sidelong glances, I have a bad reputation of spitting out the truth to the wrong people. The track is an incredibly insular place. Being sick, I've been reading when I should be working, at something. Read Welty's "The Golden Apples" the past few days, I finished it today and have been reading on the internet this afternoon about her life and works. "Apples" is a commentary on how an insular life in a small town affects the lives of it's families and the individuals within those families; how some rise above and out, others stay and dwindle, others stay and thrive. The track for me is like that. I was raised inside the racetrack, literally and figuratively, and it took me years to survive away from it. Now coming back, "home", I am not accepted, and don't really want to be. It does make for a lonely existence, inside and outside the track, but I've come to rather like being alone, faced with the alternative.

12/10/06 07:40 pm

Oh, and I forgot to say that we have word Rewoven will be claimed tomorrow by Ben Root. Just thought I'd throw that out there and see if it comes to pass. Rewo is a lovely filly by Basket Weave, very nice personality and a good body, though she has had some leg problems. She's never beaten another horse in a work, has been lazy as a cow her whole life, but in her first official start she ran second. So who knows. For 6250 maybe she can become a stake horse! We'll find out tomorrow.

12/10/06 07:26 pm

Hi all of you two, I've been gone a while, but I'm back for a short time. A good day for the Beckner farms, at least for their stallion Ex Marks The Cop. Ex Mountain Cop, 2 yr old gelding, has won the Os West Oregon Futurity. 48K purse, and a 30K bonus for winning two previous stakes. This puts him at about 95K plus for the year, pretty damn good for an Or bred horse out of a cheap claiming mare. He fairly stumbled home in a couple of 14 and change furlongs, but that was good enough to win by about 15 lengths. He did smoke the first six panels. Today was also Or bred day, and stallion season auction. When I last looked, you could get a season to his sire for 700 bucks, but hopefully a few breeders got drunk and wandered up there to sign their name for a bit more, for Teri's sake. Ex Marks The Cop has been throwing very solid, intelligent, and racy foals. But of course you can't control who trains them. Jonathan Nance trains the horse who won today, and he definitely can get a horse fit, but at the expense of their life beyond 3 or 4. He broke down 4 (count'em) last weekend, one of which I know was fatal. I hope they give this nice horse a few months off before they decide he's good enough for CA, or he'll be dogmeat too, before he's three.

I found another horse a home today, and he'll be off tomorrow. This one was excellent, someone who is not only willing to give him a home, but also do vet work and even knee surgery if needed! Mac Daddy J has a future.

11/14/06 07:16 pm

We tried to claim Keep on Turkin back today. Teri had to talk one of her owners into it, which took about 15 minutes, and then she had me deposit a check with the bookkeeper and get a claim slip and pick up a halter, all the while dashing since we were out of time. We missed the 15 minute time limit by about a minute, so someone else got him. He won. The butthead. He got loaded fashionably last as number 5 in a full field, so came out of the gate on top and that was all she wrote. Why he got special dispensation I don't know, except that maybe he was running for a leading trainer, or, with his reputation preceding him, they are tired of having him flip in the gate.

11/13/06 08:13 pm

Well, we're working on 40 days and 40 nights here in the northwest. There's a wheelbarrow in my backyard here in Vancouver that's got more than a foot of water in it, with evaporation. Not that there's been that much evaporation going on. There are a couple of stalls flooding nightly, I finally figured out it's coming from the ground, not the roof leaking (which it does) or the shedrow flooding (which it does). The ground water is simply that high. Adding to the misery is having to haul alfalfa and grass hay bales, straw and feed for five horses through the mud every day, and trying to find a dry place to put it. Our main barn is ok, with 13 in it. At least the old barn has doors, the main barn has no top or bottom doors, and the cement block walls are deteriorating so much the horses regularly punch holes in them to chat with their buddies next door. Mark, on Derby List, is this as bad as Trinity Meadows, wherever that was? In the winter of '03/'04 we had three inches of ice on the ground for two weeks, followed by 4 inches of snow, and management did nothing to help carve us out. After a week of horses in stalls and hauling water, since the spigots were frozen, I finally chewed up a path to the walker myself, with a shovel. Since Magna couldn't come up with a tractor. I can't imagine a much worse place.

We did well in the quarter horse futurity, with Rose getting beat 2" for all of it, 21K worth. The TB's are not doing so well. Lots of trouble in the starting gate. Rewoven made her first start yesterday, with a horse flipping next to her, and when pulling them all out, she dislodged her jock and ran around the track a couple of times. At least she got a work, which she probably needed. The gate crew is a huge problem, they are inexperienced this year, and some say the starter takes too long to let them go. All I know is every other race I watch has horses flipping or nearly flipping.

Am I complaining too much? Sorry. I can't complain at the track, everyone has a worse time than me, you know.

10/30/06 05:54 pm

I'm back, sort of. Fingers better, but now I've got walking pneumonia again. A day off would be novel.

I didn't post about one horse we had in today, because I had word he'd be claimed. He was, but not by the trainer I thought would do it. Ben Root claimed him, which was fascinating, because his dad, the vet Jack Root was in the shedrow for an hour or so this morning ultrasounding a tendon. Not that the Roots would ever be up to something. I wish them luck with the Turkey. He's a cool horse, ran second, but he's not honest, and loves to act the fool. If he had better character he has the talent to be a decent horse. He's the one ran backwards in the shedrow with me the other day, and flipped in the gate his last race.
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