It’s often a good idea to save the best for last. That is the case with the lucrative Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland on November 4 and 5. How do you prepare a race horse for a season that could run as long as seven months, perhaps even longer.
The racing calendar is published well in advance and that’s helpful for trainers and owners. They can take a good look at the calendar and work out which races they want to enter their horses into and which sporting events to bet on.
In the US, a major event rich in betting offers is the Triple Crown. This comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Winning the Triple Crown is not an easy achievement and Justify was the last horse to do so in 2018.
The big problem here is that the races come over a short period of time. That was to the disadvantage of Rich Strike who was the surprise winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby. His trainer opted not to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes.
It simply came too soon after the Kentucky Derby and Rich Strike is a horse that needs a good break between races.
Training a racehorse requires you to know just how often they can run and put in consistently good performances. You wouldn’t expect a boxer to have another fight soon after a tough bout would you? Some horses can run on a regular basis and maintain their form, others can’t. Learning which can and which can’t is so important.
Trainers have to learn how long a recovery time each of their horses has. Observing the body language of a horse can be helpful. While some can be given a gallop soon after a race, others need a good break before preparations for their next race can commence.
Some horses make a late start to the season. This can be intentional or because of a lack of fitness. Not having your first run of the season until for example, June may see you unable to compete in the top early season races but it can be useful.
British horse Inspiral had four wins out of four as a two-year-old in 2021. The filly was then off the track for 252 days before returning with a win at Royal Ascot in June. Two more races in July and August have produced a second and a Group 1 race in France. A crack at the Breeders’ Cup Mile is likely on November 5.
The late start to the season may well allow Inspiral to keep up her good form all the way until almost the end of the year. 2021 saw Inspiral win a race in October having begun the season in June, so a good run in November cannot be discounted.
It’s not easy though because even the best trainer won’t know if the next race is one too many for the season. Many times there have been runners who looked as if a good performance was on the cards but it was just one too many races that year.
This doesn’t make life easy for those who love to bet on horse racing. Those of you who fancy a gamble on this sport need to look at the schedule that a horse has had. Pay attention to the comments made by trainers to find out as much as you can about the horses you wish to back.