I've had a fun few days chatting with people about horse racing; some who I have not chatted with in some time.
Although much of the chatter started with the Sword Dancer, it always seemed to end up in the same place - with proclamations about breakdowns and breeding to breakdown.
"The Sword Dancer showed how important it is for the industry to win big races so horses can look good for stud. Happens all the time."
"If horses lose a race, they have to race more, and the sport wants to retire horses as quickly as possible, with as easy a schedule as possible."
"What happens is that horses who may be unsound, with sesamoid issues, bleeding or bad stifles are raced few times (because they can't physically race more at a high level) then retired, bred, and pass it on."
"Their offspring then break down more often, and the sport is in a whole heap of trouble."
And the kicker, which I heard from a few people now, "If we have another breakdown in the Derby, there will be hell to pay."
Now, despite believing in Darwinism like we do, and understanding that horses do pass on good traits and bad traits, there are a number of leaps in logic in there. I am not going to debate the truth or mistruth those statements hold. But I will say, that's a perception in the business in some quarters.
Would breakdowns be fewer and the sport in better shape if horses raced like California Chrome have, before going to stud so they prove not only their talent, but their durability? Perhaps, perhaps not, but there are people who firmly believe that to be true. The Sword Dancer was a race that just reminded them about it, and they ended up in the same place.
Have a nice Tuesday everyone.
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