Barbaro Updates: 107
updates are now here.
Update 866: Steve Willard just called to give us an update on Giacomo as he prepares for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Giacomo breezed on tuesday, a half mile in 49 seconds. A nice easy breeze. He usually gets the day off after a breeze but apparently the breeze took nothing out of him as he jogged yesterday, and did a light gallop today. Steve said he is moving very well and appears to be just doing very well right now. I asked Steve about their plans for going to Kentucky (they are based in California). Steve was unsure yet when they were going to go, but of course they know Giacomo is comfortable with Churchill Downs (home of his Derby win) so they are not concerned about getting their too early. All is well in the Giacomo camp.
Update 865: Just spoke to Peter (6:10 pm), and Barbaro had a comfortable day. He had heard from Michael who visited Barbaro this afternoon.
Update 864: I just spoke to Sabina, who is continuing her recovery. She sounded a little less groggy and more lucid than the last time we spoke (she also stayed awake through the entire conversation!) She thinks she will be leaving the hospital tomorrow. She received gifts today from Kennett Florist and elsewhere, she was pretty psyched about that. Anyway, she seems to be doing well all things considered.
Update 863: The use of drugs in racing is another of the contentious issues racing needs to face. While I am not offering, nor have, any real opinion, there are racing jurisdictions with a zero tolerance for drugs. The following e-mail from Sue McMullen notes that Deep Impact was caught foul of France's zero tolerance policy:
Japanese racing has been rocked with news that Deep Impact, their wonder horse and son of the late Sunday Silence, is highly likely to be disqualifed from his third place in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe having tested positive for Ipratropium, often used to treat respiratory problems. The Japanese Racing Authority is currently awaiting a decision about his disqualification. The authorities in Europe have zero tolerance of any medication (eg, we don't run on Lasix), even that which is administered purely for genuine, veterinary purposes and not designed to enhance or aid performance. Both the A and B sample have tested positive so the French authorities will now determine the level of punishment. It should be understood that the medication in question was administered legitimately but sadly not withdrawn sufficiently early for him to test clear.
The Japanese are still on a learning curve in terms of racing at this level outside their own country, hence the curious decision to run Deep Impact in the Arc without a prep race, and especially a run in one of the Arc trials which would have given him some experience of Longchamp. His third placing was therefore all the more impressive and a case of what might have been. This news, attached to their most high-profile, flagship horse, will inevitably cast an unfortunate shadow at home, especially among his legion of fans, but it should be put into context. Due to the policy of absolute zero tolerance, it sometimes happens that harmless medication isn't withdawn in sufficient time for race day when random testing will take place. There have also been high profile cases here where miniscule traces of a banned substance have been found in feed, subsequent to the horse being disqualified from a big race, even where such tiny traces could have no effect on performance. Some consider this harsh but aside from any other consideration, equine athletes unlike their human counterparts, have no control over what is given to them and their welfare should be of paramount importance. Laboratories have become so sophisticated in the testing procedures that even innocent and minor transgressions, such as Deep Impact's, are sometimes caught up in the overall battle to eradicate more sinister, deliberate drug abuse.
The four-year-old colt is due to retire at the end of the season, having earned in excess of Â£5 million on the track.
Update 862: Another comfortable night last night for Barbaro (wednesday night). I walked back from the track with Michael Matz, coming back from my second set. Michael had heard from Dr. Richardson. Michael also mentioned Barbaro seems to have gained some weight (about 1100 lbs, I think he is weighed very regularly) and might have actually grown a little during his recovery. He was never actually measured while in training, but Michael thinks he might be about 17 hands now.
This morning it was dark, dark going to the track on my first set, and dark coming back from the track. The clocks need to change, and hopefully soon.
Update 861: Lost in the Fog's cancer appears to have been more extensive than first thought: Fog's Cancer Extensive, Necropsy Reveals. The following is an excerpt:
"What absolutely amazed me was how tough this guy was and how well he tolerated everything," Wilson said. "It just floors me; the extent of this cancer and how he handled it with a minimum of discomfort. He had to have had it for at least several months."
What a wonderfully gifted, and incredibly tough, racehorse.
The Thoroughbred Racing Association is hosting a simulcast conference in Philadelphia to discuss racing issues, of which racehorse safety is obviously a big concern: Equine safety essential to ensuring fan confidence. The following is an excerpt:
"Barbaro was a wake-up call," said trainer Michael Dickinson, who invented Tapeta Footings, which Golden Gate Fields will install for use next year. "The industry had taken a blind eye to safety issues but no longer. If it had moved any slower on [safety issues], then it would have moved backwards."
Turfway President Bob Elliston said that racing benefited from having a ready-made answer to the question, "What is racing doing about safety in the wake of Barbaro and breakdowns at racetracks?"
"We needed to show that we were taking steps to improve the situation," Elliston said. "If we don't make an effort, then we risk alienating our fan base, and we need new fans to support the economics of the game: owning horses and betting on them."
Sorry, I think the fan base is pretty alienated already. Aside from the very big race days (triple crown, breeders' cup etc.) you see few fans. Belmont Park had five grade one stakes a couple of weeks ago, the crowd was very thin. Go to your local racetrack on a regular race day, if you do it twice they will know you by your first name. Racing has huge problems, and things need to happen very differently I think in order to build a new fan base. OK, off my soap box ...
I was talking to Andy Durnin, who is an exercise rider in California, and currently at Hollywood Park. He loves the cushion track they have recently installed. He said there has been nothing but positive feedback from everybody at the track. Horses get a great footing on the surface, no slipping, its very consistent. Their meet will open in a few weeks I think, it will be interesting to see how it fairs during the races.