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Do you think this years crop of three year olds are looking more talented and interesting than last year?

Asked by nicoledowland-deactivated201404

By leaps and bounds. I think whomever is 3rd in this year’s Derby could have beaten Orb last year.

I don’t think they’re as interesting as the 2012 field or as talented as 2007 & 2012, but we’ve got a nice colorful group of personalities, strategies, connection stories, some good names, some rivalries, and some 1 1/4 mile talents.

does the points system make it (virtually) impossible for fillies to be entered in the Derby now?

Asked by Anonymous

I don’t think it’s “impossible.”

Let’s say there’s a really really nice filly one year. Her owners decide to take it easy with her, competing only against fillies, until they sense she might be better than that, then they shoot for a 100-point race which is basically a “win and you’re in” type of deal. All she needs to do is win that race, and let’s face it, not all of them fill up very well quality-wise *cough cough* Wood Memorial *cough*.

It’s not impossible! But it’s still quite unlikely that a filly can win the Derby…

Sat here crying over Chriselliam. Its really hit me hard, she was barely three years old. We've lost so many good horses this year and the end of 2013. They're so strong and yet so fragile.

Asked by nicoledowland-deactivated201404

I was absolutely stunned to hear the news, too. To me, she was by far the most amazing two-year-old filly I had seen last year and better than most of the colts (barring Honor Code, I don’t think anyone could top that kind of magic or at least the hold he has over me). It was just a freakish thing, to lose her over something seemingly so small. Yes, it reminds us how fragile horses are, that something as small as an infection could end their lives.

Rest in peace, Chriselliam. Losing you long before your time was a huge huge blow to international horse racing.

That horse with abel flores is tapiture, on the derby trail

Asked by tcarlynn

Thank you! He commented via Disqus so I was very very happy to learn about that factoid today.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why I try to photograph as many horses as I can wherever I may be. You never know who that unknown horse is out on the training track… especially at Saratoga! Thank you again!

We have the same pick for the LeComte (is that how you spell it?) tomorrow. :)

Asked by ladyoftheturf

Woot woot!

I don’t usually like going for such a drastic stretch-out, but I thought that last race of Vicar’s looked too good. Gotta throw the Ramseys/Maker a bone here and there.

Why have we lost so many top horses recently to colic? So many seem to be suddenly dying of it.

Asked by Anonymous

Colic is annoyingly common in horses like the flu is in humans, and can be fatal depending on the severity and timeliness of treatment. It also has a variety of causes, so it can be hard to prevent and foresee detection that it might be coming. I think in the case of many of the recent high-profile deaths like Laughing and St. Nicholas Abbey, it was probably a very severe case no one could have prevented. It might also stem from stress, as I remember being told while shooting the Stud Muffin documentary that Stud colicked shortly after arriving off the track and into retirement where his lifestyle just completely changed.

Love your blog!!!! I'm a 17 year old senior at the high school across from Belmont park! My dream job is to gallop horses before I go to school!! How do I make this happen!!!! I've been riding for 7 years now! I am determined to get a job there considering all my connections have fell through! Maybe you have some advice for me?

Asked by blazerbuttondownboatshoes

Thank you!

Luckily for you, location is not a problem and you have experience under your belt. From what little I do know— and as with pretty much any vocation— getting connections is by far the most difficult thing to do. Track life is very difficult and I would imagine most outfits would only take on those who are extremely serious and want to pursue it long-term before they are allowed near the backside. You would probably have to start as a hotwalker or groom first before you’re allowed to gallop, but do ask someone like jockeyfever and amazing-freakin-grace about that sort of thing. I’m not very hands-on with the industry, I just admire from afar so I would just personally recommend networking a lot and just talking to anyone you see… it’s always a pleasant surprise finding out who knows who just by talking to a couple railbirds.

I don't understand how two horses can collide head on on a racetrack. Surely they would move around each other, and why would they be running in different directions? I don't understand?

Asked by Anonymous

[This was made in regards to the accident involving Caixa Eletronica]

Yes you would be right to think that way, and for the most part it’s correct that it would be hard to have a head-on collision between two horses. However, a lot of horses work out in the fog or dark that frequently occurs in the early AM hours, and it can be difficult to make out a loose horse under that kind of low visibility, and I believe that is what led to Caixa’s accident. Loose horses also tend to do whatever they want, particularly when they’re running away in a panic. On that note, I need to dig up that string of photos I took of a loose horse at Belmont’s main from September…

Hi Dawna! I saw that someone tweeted your Studio Gulch site, and I just wanted to tell you that IT IS AWESOME! I love it! You have a way with words AND images, which is pretty rare! Love it; you're going places, girl! :-) Ellen

Asked by Anonymous

Thanks Ellen you’re too kind! And yes that was a pretty pleasant surprise; every now and then someone “on the scene” will say something nice to or about me and it’s always a big ego boost. :) Trainer Michelle Nihei tweeted and “complimented” my page via About.me

For those who haven’t seen it or don’t know about it, I have a portfolio/production site since I am a film major called StudioGulch.com, where I post updates on all the video and photo projects I’m doing.

hey I'm writing an essay arguing that horse racing is not cruel, do you know any good scholarly sources that might help me with the essay?

Asked by Anonymous

Hmm interesting topic! I’m not entirely sure of really concrete “scholarly” sources… and by that I mean journals and expert publications… since anyone who writes on the subject of horse racing has typically concluded it is neither cruel nor wasteful as PETA as others who have the time to write thousands of words have deemed it.

With that said, how about take it a step beyond a trip to the library and reach out to some people in the business? I recommend reaching out to Alex Brown— who famously covered the story of Barbaro and his legacy— as he’s usually quite responsive and knows quite a bit. From there you could probably look into what has been done in track safety and the fact that whips are not instruments of torture but tools with which to signal that have laws against their overusage in the UK. Aaaand I’m sure you can find plenty of stuff that argues that horse racing IS cruel from an opposing viewpoint that you can counter-attack.

Good luck!

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