In The Gate #407 - Santa Anita Recovers


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An update on the condition of the racing surfaces is straight ahead, plus the effect of the disruption on one of the most overlooked horsemen's groups jockeys agents, how do you book rides when there's no racing. We'll have all that and more on this edition of indicate. Two zero seven. This is in the gate ESPN's. Thoroughbred racing podcast. My name is Barry Abrams. You can follow me on Twitter at be Abrams boys or on Facebook at Barry Abrams voice. You can also get us on our YouTube channel by searching in the gate podcast. You can get us on soundcloud as well. Get us at the. I tuned store or tune in dot com. You can get us on that little pink pod. Catcher f on your phone. You didn't even know you had a now you can subscribe to win the gate in the listen tab of the ESPN app for the full in the gate experience of scribe now in the listen tab of the ESPN app light training on the main track. At Santa Anita has resumed no timed breezes, but some jogging and stretching of legs. The daily racing form reports that racing will resume on Thursday, March twenty second that date is contingent of course, on the results of additional safety inspections the team conducting those inspections is led by Dr Mick Peterson of the university of Kentucky co-founder of the racing surfaces testing laboratory, and we're pleased to welcome. Dr. Peterson back here to in the gate now, let's point out that we're recording this on Monday night, March eleventh what have you found so far? Well, the thing is that risk horses. Always multi factor Orioles. So our goal on this whole process is to improve the track to whatever extent we can. I mean looking at 'cause at this point is not even productive. What we've gotta do is. We've got to get better. And you you look the spate of injuries. And you know, it's completely unacceptable. I mean, we can't do this. And so we're doing is we're looking at absolutely every option, and that doesn't matter whether it's the feature be and Rick Arthur and the coin medical director looking at the horses in my case, my expertise is the track and I'm providing whatever information I can see HR be to the track. And then we're just trying to get better at this point. Because. We can't keep doing this. We'll right. But I mean, I know you're you're looking for every option, but when you go into something like this you have to have a game plan. And after your first visit out here. Proclaiming the surfaces. Okay. What are you even looking for? Well, the first assumption. We went into was that. There was segregation the material. And so with the rains what happened, and you don't see this so often in California, you see a lot in the east coast or or even the mid west will live at is the fine material go towards the inside rail. And so what we did was even before we were doing the testing that was when Andy peel back the surface. He inspected the base and then by peeling back the surface and remixing it you eliminate the segregated material at this point overdoing is we're making sure and we did tests we took seven samples and did. Tests by the time we were done with the test. We did not see a lot of variation our first sumptuous spatial variation. We want every step to be consistent, and we did not see spatial variation in it when we went back looked at it. So at that point, we have to go back and look at the other thing that we had out there was they had gone ground penetrating radar swimming, more make sure that the layers have been laid down well, and obviously after he'd peeled back. There was some variation. But we followed up with the ground penetrating radar and eliminated that so we've got a consistent surface with a consistent composition. What dentist has done is? He is gone ahead after we closed again or close completely dentist has gone back. And we mix the entire surface, and there's an engineer out there. Now, he's been using the biomechanical surface Esther as well as ground penetrating radar to make sure that he gets everything lay down. So he's remixed surface again. And brought up for the prime material from down below. So we're at the same time. We're continuing to do tests on this end to make sure that we can match this year string one of the advantage is that at Santa Anita. We've got a huge amount of baseline information. This is one of the dozen tracks in the country where we have had a full set of tests on every six months, and it Santa Anita. It's going on for well, it's been going on since they've had the dirt track. We did it for the synthetic track. But obviously not relevant. So that's what we're trying to benchmark it too. At the same time. We've got look at all the other issues, you know, any horse related issues, and you know, that's not my expertise. But that's at the same time, given the pack that it's multifactorial we have to look at the track saved time. We're looking at courses. Now, it's easy to say southern California's had roughly seventeen inches of rain since October. I normally L A gets fifteen inches for an entire three hundred sixty five day calendar year. And that's why there's such a problem. Now, what do you say to making the weather a scapegoat? Well, that's not a solution. We get a lot of rain in New Orleans. We handle it there and one of the challenges for the industry the industry needs to step up. I'm not gonna defend the industry on all this because there needs to be a more systematic approach to how we maintain tracks. What I've seen consistently is that when we have unusual weather. It's a challenge for the tracks. So that would be a dry period at Gulfstream or fairgrounds or this your Churchill or a rainy period at Sunland park or Senator Nita. That seems to me like that's a training and communications piece, and and and and and the industry at this point needs to step up and make sure that everybody has what they need. Dennis Moore is a huge advantage out there because he remembers the years when they had a lot more rain in southern California thirty years ago now, but that's no solution either. I mean something apple then it's more. We need to be able to duplicate those skills. And I think that's what we're looking at right now is we're dependent on my technology combined. But then it's more skills, and we need to duplicate that and bring that to the other tracks. You know, we make progress in some areas and in other areas, it seems like you know, we have one bad year. And it seems like we're we're back in the battle days, and that to me is a lack of training lack of information lack of communication. We're talking here on negate with Dr Mick Peterson whose team is conducting the track inspections. Santa Anita that facility remains closed for racing until March twenty second. Now there were twenty one fatalities at the track since the start of the Santa Anita meet the day after Christmas, we all know that of course, most of the talk has been about whether something's amiss on the main dirt track, but four of those twenty one deaths for on the turf course, how much attention are you paying to the turf what we've done is we step back and looking at the turf track that also again suggests that we've got a broader issue rather than just remixing the dirt in the dirt on the main track. We we need to look at the turf track. Santa Anita has committed instituting a more complete monitoring system on their turf track. They've got a quite an experience superintendent on the turf is named Jesse. And he does a terrific job. But again, I'm not sure how much experience he has with this, much rain. And I think strana group has done a good job there reconsidering when they take. Braces off the turf, and you know, that's obviously a challenge for the for them point Anchalee. But it's also a challenge to be closed. They been now let's say you conduct all of your tests your team conducts all of the tests and wind up finding nothing unusual going on with either the dirt or the turf course, which is where you seem to be trending. You know that if and when you break that news to Santa Anita officials, and eventually the public that news will be taken two ways. Glad to hear the tracks are considered safe. But also, what could be causing these deaths is there's something darker going on here. So how it is that color the way you'll present your findings to them. Well, I guess the best case of that was you know, a few years ago we had another spate of injuries at aqueduct. And what I think is success at naira at point was we didn't find anything. With the track. And so Naro doubled down on the amount of data that they were taking the track to see if there was something. We're missing a clear example of that is we need to be measuring moisture content during races and not just once a day. And what I think is really one of the biggest challenges is pursue pretendants is when you've got a floated track that you're running on at what time do you open that when do you make the transition to a hero track right now, they're not even a information aside from race times? And just observation, you know, we need to give them more tools. And let me tell you another the other group that needs more tools than the the track needs to provide more information. That's the trainers. The trainers are having to make decisions about the fitness of their horses. And if the speed of the track varies dramatically from day to day to moisture content. That's not an easy decision for them. And they're still trying to get the orces ready for. The races. So by providing more information to the trainers. You know, there's some trainers just have a feel for it. And you probably don't need to give them more information. They have the judgment. But there's a lot of them if you'll give them more information, and they learn to integrated into their training routine. We can help bring the horses up to the right level of fitness and not over train them. So it's really the responsibilities on me from the technology side of the tracks. From the information site to provide more information to help support the trainers to do their job to to predict the horses and get them ready for races hinted at a number of potential improvements that could be made in the way tracks are maintained and the information communicated. Do you think there is a greater good for the industry that will come out of this? Or will this be considered a case specific situation? Every indication to me is I'm hopeful that we're going to get better. Now, you should call me back in. Month, and or or two months, and if we haven't made any progress, I will tell you because, you know, this isn't when I signed up for I'm engineer, I'm not a horseman, and you know, I got into this to protect the animal and to protect the ride or and by protecting the horses and the riders that takes a commitment by the industry. I've seen every indication that strana group is moving in the right direction. And that there's other players in the industry that are supportive, but you know, attention is is something that's transient. And and and I appreciate your concern because I'm concerned too. Dr Mick Peterson of the university of Kentucky co-founded the racing surfaces testing laboratory in his part of the team working to make Senate and Nita safer than it is now thank you so much for a few minutes for sharing this with us. And we look forward to hearing more updates. Thank you. How would you like to put rides for a jockey based at Santa Anita right now. Other than the fact that there's no racing. What's the problem? We'll talk with the agent for floppy on Pratt about how they're dealing with this right after the break. Let's consider the secret life of the innermost nesting doll living, most of her life in the dock inside the other nesting Dole's. He has plenty of time to think if we could sadly, she has no brain, however, when in a most nesting dole, his the gyco not only saves people money, but also has been providing great service for over seventy five years. She thinks it's obvious. You should switch because. Yes. Switching to Geico is a no brainer in a most nesting Dollond her lot in life. Welcome back to the podcast. It was supposed to be a blow out weekend. At Santa Anita with the big cap and the San Felipe bay as the headliners on a big stakes weekend but on Saturday March night. Mario Gutierrez was riding in Arkansas. Mike Smith was in New York and flabby on Pratt. Who's one six graded stakes? This year wasn't writing. In fact, he hasn't ridden a race since March third right before the great race place suspended racing for two weeks. Now think about it in many businesses nowadays. There are almost always work arounds. Maybe you can work from home. If something's missing the office. Maybe you travel a lot for your job. So if one or two clients drop, you you simply move onto the others. But in the racetrack world, there are jockey colonies, the group of regulars who don't just ride the big stakes but all the daily races that allow people to make a living. It's not really feasible for a jockey in California to bring his tack to Arkansas for two full weeks. And try to take rides away from the rest of the colony big stakes days or different those are one day things. So how do jockeys and their agents cope when there's a disruption like the one at Santa Anita? Usually we like talking with the riders themselves on this show. They're the ones you all know. But I think we'll learn more by chatting with a jockey's agent. So since we mentioned flabby on Pratt. Let's chat with his agent. Derek lawson? Thanks so much for being here. Hearing that news that the track would be closed must have been like Marvin the Martian saying, oh, don't mind the earth. It'll be gone in just a few minutes at blocks. My view of Venus like you just assume the earth is always going to be there and thanks to Bugs Bunny. It still is floppy on. And you must assume that Santa Anita will be racing. So what did you think when you heard what was happening, right? And that's the point is at the first half of the year. The the challenge of Joel. Dario coming out to southern California has just boost our competitive spirits and Jesus and against. Writing really well, and I've been finding him good horses to ride. So it's been a good a good two months. Now, we're. March. But nonetheless hearing that news that the track would be closed must have been like Marvin the Martian saying, oh, don't mind the earth. It'll be gone just a few minutes, at blocks, my view of Venus. I mean, just like you assume the earth is always going to be there and thanks to Bugs Bunny. It still is floppy on a new must assume that Santa Anita will be there, of course. And unfortunately, we've had an unprecedented amount of rain that took place we lost at the time. When all this rain was falling. Dennis Moore decided to not work at Santa Anita anymore. So there was a new individual taking over possibly between the race track management and the people in charge of the racetrack. They may have made some mistakes, but they'll get it organized. It's like anything else they received the criticism it stings, but they're on their way back. They're working their way back track looks outstanding. And so the problem we'll get. We'll get rectified what did floppy on any other writer with whom you've come in contact and the other horsemen with whom you've come in contact say about the condition of the track. Did they ever say? Hey, this might not be so good right now. It happened the last week and a half. Because Fleming was never complaining about the track or anything else. But in the last week and a half he felt that the bottom was very hard. And remember, it's a clay type of dirt and mixture that they have and the more rain and more was packed down the Klay gone a harder and harder. So that was concerned that was a concern. Well, you obviously a love horses are the caretaker of a man who makes his living with his body. So how concerned have you been about all this? That's been going on. Well, fortunately, no horse than fly. All yeah. Actually, you know, what she did ride one worse at growth down. Now that I remember a horse of Leonard Powell's. So that horse did get put down. I can't give you the name right off the bat, but he was on one horse. Fortunately, he was able to pull that or some and the he didn't follow it. But unfortunately for the horses life was lost. So there is a concern. Absolutely. My suffered with one injury that Flavian had four years ago. So yeah, that's a major concern. And it's also not only a major concern for jockeys. It's the exercise writers in the morning as well who can get hurt. And then they're they lose their income as well. So there is a concern the people that own the horses they have a vested interest financially and emotionally in their horses. They were also stung, so it's not like, we're just, you know, wiping, the slate clean. No. There's going to be some new regulations that are gonna be put in you have to contact this new task force. You're going to have to tell them, you're. Working the following day. They will have a right to come over and take a look at the horses before they work, and they'll also have the right to tell you know, you're not working the worst for something wrong with your horse. So that's something that's going to be. We're all going to have to understand and work with. It's a new beginning. Now on what was supposed to be Santa Anita handicap day big cap day. I saw Mike Smith writing in New York on a day that had stakes but not a blockbuster day. I saw Mario Gutierrez riding in Arkansas. Had you tried to get floppy on rides out of town. Yeah. I did. I tried to go to right Tampa Bay. We tried to go ride Todd Pletcher horse in the Tampa Bay derby. He at the last moment decided to views Joel Rosario at the time when I was hustling around I ended up getting on a on seven horses in Florida. But when Flavian, and I started looking at the horses that we were supposed to ride there's the type of horses that we haven't been writing all your long. So I called up the Stewart. And we took off of those horses in Florida for last Saturday and Sunday. So there was an opportunity to go ride. But I just thought thought that staying home was are better option because we were able to work can talk who's going to run into steak. We were we were able to work Bella FINA. We also were for Richard Mandella Omaha beach who worked really really well. So we use the time to get some of the horses that are coming up for the steaks ready to run and by working them, and they were all working at Los Alamos, which has an outstanding track. And Los Alameda said no problem. So I'm and by the way, Dennis Moore is in charge of Los Alameda. So I'm so you can tell you can you can know that the both all three racetracks in southern California are back under good hands again and good stewardship and leadership. Derek Lawson agent for jockey flabby on Pratt joins us here on in the gate. So I guess you've answered the question what we did. With our winter vacation. Let's. Change the topic salmon away, wait a minute pair. There's no vacation. You kidding me? We were we I woke up and picked up phlegm in at four thirty in the morning, we drove to low south. He was on his first force. In fact, we got there so early that they turned on the lights at the racetrack in Los Alamos. So we can we would be able to see that we were working. So there was no vacation. I didn't go anywhere. I stayed right here. I'm sure your wife, really appreciates that the thing is people have been talking a lot about the main track. But some of those fatalities occurred on the turf course to what if Lavi on another horseman you've encountered said about the turf course, that's never been a problem for us as far as a condition of the track. They didn't use it all that much. Obviously there are holes in certain spots. And remember with all the rain the track may not have been as firm as it has been in the past. But you're right. I think there were not sure exactly the run the number of fidelity that took place on the grass scores. But there. Were. Well, actually, I think there were a couple of major stake sources that unfortunately, got hurt and they lost their lives. So. Yeah, that was the problem as well. But again, the main focus and the main complaint that I was getting from Flavian was on the main track. And it was just basically because it was so firm deep the deep part of the track was very very hard. Well, wait a minute. We talked about this with Mick Peterson a few minutes ago. But if there was so much rain, how would the base be so firm? Because they kept floating the track and they kept keeping track from not draining down below. Okay. They kept packing. It down you down pack it down. And that's how you ended up getting the firmness on the on the on the base. I know he came through and did his studies and everything like that. But and they did the dig a little bit deeper to try to soften up the hard ground. But again, I'm not attract person. All I was doing was listening to what flavor in was telling me, and he did say that when the horses were were hitting. They were hitting some pretty firm bottom. Let's change topics to something a little bit happier. Takes the lead on the outside with his move feeling strong starting to rally from behind. He is just behind whipping Jay at the top of the stretch where Callahan opens up quickly putting away the top two Galileo and well clear, and you could find a telescope to find the competition behind gala land, whereas Galilee in his training. He worked twenty eight and to gallop down one on one. He's running in the rebel stakes at Oaklawn park. I believe flabby on Pratt is also the regular writer of vessel leaker facile IKA. The starting to launch a wide bed. She's within six lengths of the league gathering momentum. Top of the stretch behind Muira thought Salita motoring down the center of the Cortes midst bad behavior gets the lead. But here's thought leaker spamming home in the center of the course and Fussell leaker streak of luck continues at nights rally into second. But Fussell leak the story just keeps getting better as she wins. The point of history. After two stakes wins at this center. Anita meat for Vassiliko. What is next for her? Well, it's been a wonderful year. That was levian ten victory out of eleven starts her next race will be the Royal heroine close to the end of the meeting and she's been such a tremendous surprise. I what can I say Jerry Hall indoor for his done a really wonderful job in keeping her ready to run. I'll tell you what fled into me about three races back. He mentioned to me that vastly is making him a better writer because all she does is she asked him to get her to the top of the stretch and she'll get him home. So his responsibility with her is to maneuver her through the early part of the race and make sure that she's ready to. So when she sets it down that she's ready to go down the lane. And so far we've been pretty successful in that. But that was a quote from him is that she's made him a better better writer. Yeah. Usually, great coaches say that to be great coaches. They have great players. I would think the same is true for jockeys. Derek loss in the agent for jockey flabby on Pratt. Thanks so much for a few minutes. Thank you very much burying. Appreciate you giving us the time. All right. Thanks to Derrick Lawson. Dr Mick Peterson suspending racing at Santa Anita has garnered a lot of attention and many derisive comments. Did it bring non more alarming than an uninformed talk show host who wondered why horse racing is even still thing. It's clear that guy knows nothing of this thing, nor does he care to he makes his bones as an expert of all sports, but say what you want about on nip it and commentators in the media, people listened to them whether or not you believe there towards well. At least horse racing has an organization to counter this narrative to control the message before it gets this far with a leader who has credibility in our general sporting culture of go-to person with the charisma of a star overweight. I must have confused horse racing with every other sport with a centralized than structured already. It's bad enough. And know it alls take their shots at horse racing. The lack of response means those shots are taken for free. You can get us on our YouTube channel by searching in the gate podcast. You can get us on soundcloud as well. Get us at the. I tuned store or tune in dot com. You can get us on that little pink pod catcher app on your phone. You didn't even know you had. And now you can subscribe to indicate in the listen tab of the ESPN app for the full in the gate experience. Subscribe now in the listen tab of the ESPN app, and you can follow me on Twitter at be Abrams boys or at Facebook at Barry Abrams voiced let's in the gate for this week. I'm Barry Abram. We'll see you next time.

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