Marsina: The Thoroughbred Triple Crown is for 3 years olds and the Arabian is for 4 year olds. And yes, many Arabians don't develop enough to run until they are well into their three year old year and thus racing them as four year olds is really rough -- to get the horse properly conditioned but the American racing public won't bet on a later age.
However, this is going to be a big flop for the majority of racing people. I was up in Canada, Winnipeg, when the Canadians tried this racing across the country (Canada) with the Thoroughbreds. It flopped big time there too! For one thing, horses are supposed to run in California, then Texas, and then Delaware Park. At least the TB Triple Crown in located in one area! Do you think that the average racing owner is going to ship their horses all over the country for these three races? Not. And if you continue to read their emails you will see that at the low nomination rate for inutero foals or weanling foals, they STILL can't get foals nominated.
Racing has got some real problems. Here are some of the complaints, concerns from letters written and posted email:
Thank you for the Arabian Finish Line. If it were not for this magazine, we who are in racing would not have a clue. That was my thought, as I looked through the March issue searching for the racing schedule for 2004. I had already searched the web only to find last years news.
The statement on the Arabian Jockey Club's web sight states, The Arabian Cup Championships began in 1995 with the notion that the nations best Arabian racehorses should come together on a given weekend and make their cases toward one of the divisional championships. The Cup Championships have grown into Arabian Racings biggest event with six Grade I Stakes and purses totaling over $400,000. Coupled with the races themselves, is a weekend of social activity that makes the championships the event of the year. Actually, what I was looking for was a list of the Cup Stewards so I could write them, call them, e-mail them, and maybe find out who they were. I wanted to ask them why after the disasters of 2003 Cup races they would still insist on putting all the races together on the same weekend again. To define disaster, a few quick points on the 6 Grade I Stakes:
1. Juvenile: 7 horse field - 3 winners of 2 races (Msw Stk or Alw) 2 maiden claimer winners and 2 Non winners.
2. Sprint: 7 horse field 7 winners in 03, No Stakes winners of 03, 4 allowance horses, and 3 claimers.
3. $125,000.00 Classic: 6 horse field 3 Stakes Horses, 1 allowance, 2 claimers
4. Juvenile fillies: 8 horse field 6 winners: (1 winner of 2 Stakes,1 allowance winner, 3 maiden winners, and 1 maiden claimer.) 2 Non winners.
5. Distaff Sprint: 6 horse field 6 winners, 4 Allowance horses, 3 claimers.
6.Gladys Brown Edwards: 8 horse field 4 Winners of stakes in 03, 1 Claiming stakes winner in 03, 2 allowance winners in 03, and one claiming winner.
I'm sorry but these 6 races are not Grade I Stakes. All of the fields were short, and they were not Grade I fields. Out of a total number of 36 horses over 1/3 of the horses were Maidens or Claimers. Horses that should not be in a Grade I field. Yes, they made the races go. I ask you, is that the object, to fill races? $10,000 race with only 3 stakes horses in it? It was no surprise that these fields would be short or have to be filled with horses that shouldn't be in them. These facts were all available months in advance. There was time to make some changes, but no one did. This very same thing happened the year before in 2002.
As I look over this years races, there are a few changes. All of the Stakes were opened up to 3 year olds, so now there are 9 stakes races that the 3 years can run in. There are only 5 Stakes races for the older Stakes horses and two of those races are 3 days apart, so that leaves only 4 Stakes races for the older mares and horses.
If you are lucky enough to have a Stakes horse that can run short and long you can look forward to 4 Stakes races, 2 at the opening of the meet, and the next Stakes do not come until 13 weeks later, the last Stakes race the ARC Cup follows at the very end on the meet. If you have a classic distance horse you have 3 Stakes races for the year. Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture? This means our best horses stand in the barn most of the year. When you do the exact same thing over again, you will
get the same exact results. Not enough quality horses to fill the races.
AND ALSO THIS EMAIL LETTER:
To Rick Flammer and other Arabian owners and trainers who believe that Texas stakes races live or die with the participation or nonparticipation of outside horses. This is exactly the problem of Arabian racing in Texas. Before I came to race in Texas, I noticed that many or all of the stakes races had been filled with local horses. We had far greater numbers of horses running than we have today.
There is a saying at the barns in Houston and Retama: "The big dogs came to town and we fed them". If anyone does not know what that means, I will try to explain. Because we have so few races written, we don't develop enough horses to fill stakes races. For example, the futurity. Because of the date of the futurity, we have the participation of outside 3-year-olds who have won multiple stakes races by this time and are hand picked to win the Texas futurity. Why? Because hopefully they will be running against at least several Texas horses which maybe by this time have run maybe 1, 2, or 3 races. Maiden etc. I suggest to you, that in all likelihood, that Texas horses and their pedigrees are all as good as horses from anywhere else. There is no way that any 3-year-old with one or two starts can compete with horses that ship in with wins like the Drinkers, Jewels of the East, and various juveniles. Which do you think makes a better race? A blanket race in a six-furlong time of 1.21.4, or a blow-away where 9 out of 10 starters get their heads jerked off in a time of 1.18 flat. A horse that ships in of that caliber does absolutely nothing for Texas Arabian racing.
Our problem, as you can see, is that we do not have enough horses or trainers running in Texas. We know that the vast majority of the owners and trainers will run their horses where there are higher purses and more races. We are told that if Texas gets the slots, our purses will be second to none, including Delaware. We know that there are far greater numbers of Arabians born in Texas than any other state. So let's give these horses a chance to run in Texas. I suggest to the Stakes Committee, don't worry if our futurities, derbies, distaffs, etc., are Black Type. We need local participation, so have the entry fee, as an example $200. I have talked to dozens of owners and trainers who would nominate 3, 4, or 5 horses. Now in simple figures, it is not hard to realize that if 20 owners nominated 2 horses a-piece, that equals 40 horses. We may not experience this effect immediately, but I could almost guarantee that we would have a 12-horse field of local horses running in our next futurity or derby etc. This of course means eliminating the late nomination almost entirely.
Now I hope you realize that in this way there is almost no advantage to any horse whether local or out of state. This creates a level playing field because everyone has to nominate at the same time; not after it has won three or four stakes races. Why can't anybody see that this creates fairness, equal advantage, and will only encourage more participation? Almost all horses will have to be nominated before they have a start. In this way, we at least try to cater to the people that make overnight racing in Texas. Yes, these are the people that we need to worry about. If you don't believe it, check the numbers of horses running in Texas at the present time. The horses that are waiting for our stakes races when there are no races elsewhere, do nothing for our dilemma. If we all waited to nominate our horses by paying late nomination fees there would be no overnight or stakes races. Texas racing would be no more.
I would like to close in saying that I in no way feel any malice toward anyone in this Arabian racing game. Mr. Flammer's letter gave me the incentive to express my opinion. I am a former member of the Alberta Arabian Racing Association (AARA) in Canada. We experienced exactly the same problems that TABA is going through now. In the early 1990's, Alberta had in excess of 150 Arabians running. Because the entry fees to all the futurities, derbies, and stakes races were far more than most people wanted to pay, most of the big trainers went to tracks where the purses were much more lucrative. Because no effort was made to encourage local participation, racing also died.