Friday, June 6, 2008
There has been much discussion in and around horse racing about how to prevent catastrophic injuries and improve the sport via the health and safety of the horses.
A lot of conversation is about how horses are bred and what needs to be changed. Here’s a great example of one of the problems: In breeding.
As breeders world wide have focused on the most successful sire lines – Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer – the gene pool has shrunk. Both of those stallions descend from the same male line. Many other “out crosses” have disappeared over the years as these two sire lines have dominated racing.
Subsequently, like your cousins in West Virginia (Mr. Cheney! – just kidding), inbreeding causes some physical deterioration (not to mention that spooky banjo music) which is the reason horses are more fragile than they were one hundred years ago.
Check out these three specimens…
The pic above is of imported French sire Teddy, and the first Triple Crown winner Sir Barton (right), whose bloodlines have all but disappeared over the years. While all three horses ultimately trace back to the same foundation sire - Eclipse - check out what 90 years of inbreeding will do for you. Note Teddy and Sir Barton’s legs, what we in the biz call “substance.” In laymen’s terms the size and shape of the bones in the legs. They actually have leg bones, not little wispy pool cues or chicken legs or whatever you want to call him.
Simply put, horses of that bygone era had smaller upper bodies and stouter legs. Although, we gotta admit our boy Teddy (who stood in Virginia) was not exactly a looker!
Now check out the photo of Big Brown. His upper body is massive and his legs…well...they’re kinda skinny. Read that: fragile.
Especially, the cannon bone (the bone up front between the knee and the ankle) and the pastern bone (the angled one between the ankle and hoof) where so many injuries now occur. Note how much shorter the pasterns are on the first two as compared to Big Brown. Less bone surface is good. If you don't believe us, ask your physics teacher.
And that is exactly what happens when close relative swap fluids for a hundred years. Right, Bobby?
Solution: A world war in South America. After the first two world wars, a lot of European Thoroughbreds ended up in the good old U.S. of A. This added some stoutness through various out crosses. Now many of the European and Japanese horses are closely related to their American cousins so opening up another can of whoop ass on France, England or the Rising Sun boys isn’t gonna solve the problem.
Now down in South America they have some bigger stouter horses with slightly different bloodlines. Quick call the White House, there is still time for one more war!
Maybe we’ll find some oil while we’re at it…
(Photos by Thoroughbred Heritage, AP and Getty Images)
Yes, he could break a bone with his next step, but his hoof crack isn’t gonna get him. It may slow him down, which would suck, but…
So what’s the deal. Quarter cracks are pretty common in big horses and Big is big. It is typically repaired with a fiberglass patch or a metal staple/suture which is exactly what has happened here – a combination of both.
Big Brown’s blacksmith/farrier/horse shoer is a Canadian fellow named Ian McKinlay who obviously knows what he’s doing. He has been working on Big Brown for some time and he has custom fit and designed the padded shoe he has worn since the Florida Derby.
Big Brown, who is undefeated, is therefore undefeated wearing Mr. McKinlay’s special horse shoe. Take that, Dr. Scholls.
Having done this for many years, McKinlay saw it coming, so he has had a plan in place for some time to deal with Big’s not-so-good feet.
Enter the “Yasha” shoe, named after McKinlay’s best friend, which has a red, firm polyurethane pad that wraps around the front edge of the hoof and a softer black pad on the inside to absorb concussion.
Then this little bit of equine shoe technology is glued on (as many racing shoes now are) so there is no issue of nails starting, or exacerbating, new or existing cracks.
As good luck would have it, McKinlay’s done this before. In 1997, he patched up Touch Gold who suffered a bad quarter crack when he stumbled at the start of the Preakness. McKinlay worked his magic, and Touch Gold went out and ran down Silver Charm to win the Belmont and thwart yet another Triple Crown bid.
Hopefully, his horse will do the thwarting this weekend.
Here are the recent Triple Crown near misses...
Twenty horses have come up short in their bid to win the Triple Crown, including Smarty Jones (right), in 2006 the sixth horse in eight years to enter the Belmont with a Triple Crown shot. Smarty Jones had won the Preakness by a record 11 1/2 lengths and led the Belmont by more than a length with a furlong to go, but suffered his first ever loss at the hands of a 36-1 long shot, Birdstone (left).
(Photo: Bill Frakes/SI)
Funny Cide (top right corner) became the first gelding to win the Derby since 1929 and ran away with the Preakness by 9 3/4 lengths, but slipped to third place on a wet Belmont track when jockey Jose Santos ran him along the rail, the muddiest part of the track.
(Photo Bill Frakes/SI)
After a four-length, wire-to-wire Derby win and a close victory at the Preakness, War Emblem (middle) quickly lost his Triple Crown chances by stumbling out of the Belmont gate. Though the horse came back to take the lead late in the race, he faded into eight place on the back stretch -- the worst Belmont finish for any winner of the first two Triple Crown legs.
(Photo: Bill Frakes/SI)
In 1998, Real Quiet (right) had held off charges from Victory Gallop (left) in both the Derby and Preakness, but Bob Baffert's second straight Triple Crown contender lost a six-length lead in the stretch in a photo finish.
In 1999, Charismatic was the third straight horse with a chance at the Triple Crown, but lost the lead in the final furlong after injuring his leg.
(Photo: Bill Frakes/SI)
"He will win the Triple Crown, I guarantee it," jockey Gary Stevens said of Silver Charm (right) in 1997 after winning the first two legs by a head and a nose, respectively. Into the Belmont homestretch, the guarantee looked good, but Touch Gold (with a patched quarter crack) ran down Silver Charm and won by a half-length.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
One-third of the 24 McDonald's All-Americans in the Class of 2008 are headed to ACC schools. In the Class of 2009, six of scout.com's top 20 players have committed to schools. Four of them have chosen ACC schools.
Big East 4
Big Ten 2
Big 12 1
Conference USA 1
Gilchrist, who enrolled at Maryland in January, was to have 2 1/2 years of eligibility beginning in December. But Gilchrist decided he is willing to sit out the 2008-09 season, as NCAA transfer rules require, so he could have four years of eligibility remaining once he becomes eligible at another school, according to his trainer, Terrelle Woody.
"The difference is that if he sits out the whole year, he still comes back with four years of eligibility" in the fall of 2009, Woody said. "At Maryland, it would be [2 1/2 ] years of eligibility. He is a young kid so he needs his opportunity to play four years of college basketball."
Gilchrist, who originally signed with Virginia Tech, was required to sit out a year before he was eligible at Maryland because of ACC intra-conference transfer rules. Maryland filed one appeal with the ACC in November, and Woody said another was filed with the conference in April. Both were unsuccessful.
"I would like to thank Coach Williams and the basketball staff at Maryland for all of their support and attempts in appealing this process," Gilchrist said in a statement. "I wish them the best in the future."
Gilchrist, who attended Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills, was expected to be a major contributor in Maryland's front court after the graduation of seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby. Maryland's back court also took a hit last month when recruit Tyree Evans, a heralded guard with a history of legal troubles, was granted his release.
"Coach Williams was the reason Gus came to the school," Woody said. "He has kept his word in every situation. I really thank Coach Williams for helping Gus through everything this year because it has been very hard for him."
(Top photo by Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
A minimum of 45 hours of super-regional television will be provided by family of ESPN channels, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Consult local listings for specific games shown in each area of the country. As many as 15 national broadcast windows could appear on the three ESPN networks from June 6-9.
His resume has Duke written all over it. While at Notre Dame the Fighting Irish Lassies won National Championships in women's basketball in 2001, and men's and women's combined fencing in 2003 and '05.
What he said: "I'm really excited about the challenges facing Duke athletics, passionately excited," White told ESPN.com Saturday afternoon.
What he meant: “I’m marginally entertained by the prospect of answering to Coach Krzcnvbsd4ski all the damn time, but the pay raise was sweet and it’s damn cold in South Bend.”
Terms of a deal were not disclosed. The appointment is subject to approval of the university's board of trustees.
(Photo by AP Photos/Joe Raymond)
According to ESPN/AP, Big Brown's trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. held nothing back recently, saying it's a "foregone conclusion" his horse will win the Triple Crown.
"I feel that he will do it," he said Thursday during the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's pre-Belmont conference call. "I feel like it's actually a foregone conclusion. To me, I just see the horses he's in with and I see our horse so I expect him to win this race.
(Dutrow photo by AP Photo/Mary Altaffer , Casino Drive photo by AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Big Brown photo by AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)
Some people go fishing on their day off. Yves Rossy likes to jump out of a small plane with a pair of jet-powered wings and perform figure eights above the Swiss Alps.
Crazy People Hall of Fame automatic bid.
(Photo by AP/Anja Niedringhaus)
He landed after 5 minutes 45 seconds. This is believed to be a new record.
Hmmm...record for what?
(Photo by AP/Julien Boule)
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