The breed is indeed faster, but can it carry its speed here? « Sid Fernando + Observations

Royal Gem (AUS) was a versatile Thoroughbred r...

Image via Wikipedia: "Royal Gem (AUS) was a versatile Thoroughbred racehorse that won 23 races ranging from 5 furlongs to 12 furlongs. He was later a successful sire in the United States."

The breed is indeed faster, but can it carry its speed here? « Sid Fernando + Observations.

This is the argument that sporthorse enthusiasts and professionals have been making for the past two decades, while they merrily import Warmbloods and breed their own horses, seeking out the sturdy legs and stamina that Thoroughbreds were once known for – American Thoroughbreds are bred to run too fast, too briefly.

Here’s a little history lesson from Professor Sid on the length of US graded stakes races:

When Graded races first started in the US in the early 1970s, two races were given Grade 1 status at 1 3/4 miles or beyond: the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at two miles on dirt and the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano at one and three-quarter miles on turf. At the same time—and can you believe this?!—there were no Grade 1 races at six furlongs, and only one at seven furlongs—the Vosburgh. Now, however, there are no Grade 1 races at those extreme distances, but there are several at six furlongs, with most on dirt in the eight-to-nine furlong range.

It’s interesting to note that The Jockey Club Gold Cup started at 2 miles. I loved it as a kid because it was a mile and a half race. The JC Gold Cup dropped to a mile and a quarter in 1990, leaving it just another under-filled stakes race right before the Breeders’ Cup, which itself has enough sprint divisions to suit every sort of short-distance runner.

The question that this article brings up, though, is that without a proving ground for horses to run more than eight or nine furlongs, do we really know if they just can’t do it? The long-distance horses either disappear (there aren’t races written for them) or they go to steeplechasing (where, interestingly, horses tend to run well into their mature years.)

So, are Thoroughbreds these days little more than glorified Quarter Horses, galloping six furlongs as fast as they can and retreating to the breeding farm at age 3? Or could they be so much more?

Be sure to click over and read the whole post from Sid Fernando.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The breed is indeed faster, but can it carry its speed here? « Sid Fernando + Observations

  1. This is super interesting to me! I don’t understand why the sport is so short sighted – I’d love to see, for instance, a 2 mile turf race with huge beastly 5 year old TBs running:) Miles was the 2004 co-champion miler in Chile (hence his barn name Miles, I’m so clever, haha). He has great bone and raced until he was 7. I’d love to see more horses like that (though I am totes biased:).

  2. Kind of reflects the culture, doesn’t it? We can’t watch races that are any longer, I guess. Well, YOU can’t;)
    Otherwise QH’s wouldn’t have exploded in the popularity department. Bing, race is done! We need better boned/footed TB’s. Many many more. MANY.
    Your title did make me think of eventers, and how well TB’s can do at it. I knew several ginormous TB’s. Massive bone. But that bone cannot run as a fast a a slighter bone, physically impossible, given two identical beasties.
    Hah, one of the big TB’s caught his tail in the starting gate. He was a docked TB, poor guy.

  3. Nah, the big beasties are the ones still running a mile and a half later. That’s why they’re in the steeplechases. Nice to see the steeplechases at Saratoga… I wish more tracks put them on.

    An aside on steeplechases: can I just say how HILARIOUS I find it when horseplayers on Twitter post “I can’t stand watching steeplechases, too many horses fall” etc.?

    Because nothing bad ever happens in flat racing?!

    Anyway. Big bones 4lyfe

  4. Well, exactly. Big bones last, little wee bones, not so much. Did you ever see the movie “Champions”? I have the world’s oldest VCR tape of it, and I made a DVD copy, but it’s still crap.. Darned technology. One of my favourite movies, ever..

  5. Erm… I never even heard of it…. Care to elaborate? Come on sister, don’t make me do all the Googling here!

  6. Starred John Hurt, and Kirstie Alley!!
    Made in the mid/late 80’s. It’s the story of Aldaniti and Bob Champion, and it’s about the Grand National Steeplechase. Bob battled back from cancer, and Aldaniti battled back from a career ending injury. I cannot believe you’ve never heard of it! Of course, you are extremely young, I keep forgetting;)
    Best movie about chasing, EVER.
    I need you folks to start demanding it be re-released. Of course, the National isn’t exactly popular amongst us AR nutsos.. Maybe I should do something with the crappy DVD copy I made.. Is that even legal?? Making a copy of an old VHS tape? I begged a British video store to try and get a new copy, but no go. ANYway, great movie, that you’ve never seen. You must have started reading me after I BLOGGED about it. I actually had people shrieking at me that it was an animal cruelty movie.. sigh.

  7. I definitely think they could be much more. Royal Gem has proven that, i think most trainers are just too hesitant these days.

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