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Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 9 - Early Training
'Step by Step'
Johnny Maestro and the Crests, 1960

Photo Source: Wikipedia

March 16, 2011

Hi D,M,D,P,B,M & J

We went out to the stables on Saturday.  The horses are doing well although Marty (the trainer) has not been able to get them out every day due to weather.

Mariko Hanover (the trotter) is well-mannered, good-sized and classy looking. Everyone...Marty, two grooms, and Jim cannot believe how similar the filly is to Whisk Hanover. She acts, trots and behaves just like Whisk. They are clones in appearance. Let's hope she races like Whisk - the best horse we have ever owned. 

Fantail Hanover (the pacer) is a handful. She sees everything and wants to leave the other horses behind.  A spirited horse is good...to a degree...Fantail has to learn to behave and she needs to focus on her work.  This takes patience.   I did some research on Fantails only sibling... a horse named Freddy Day Hanover.  Freddy Day did not do much racing at age 2, started poorly as a 3-year-old so they gelded him.  Finally he got going and now he is a VERY, VERY fast racehorse and is racing weekly in new Jersey.  


The winter and spring are long slogs for owners of 2-year-old racehorses.  Training bills add up.  We cannot possibly hope to race or earn money until late June.  This waiting is the downside of stakes racing. Fantail and Mariko will go a little faster each month.  We make the hour drive each week and note their progress; miles under 3:00 minutes, 2:50, 2:40, 2:30, 2:20.  Actually, boring is good; we are more concerned that problems, especially physical problems, might crop up.  Here are a series of reports from the training center.

……..Doug and Mary went out with me to watch the fillies train today.  They did very well, Mariko trotted a mile in 2:31, and Fantail paced her mile in 2:30.  Both are healthy and right on schedule. 
…….The weather in April was bad; three or four times I planned to visit but it poured.  This was not good for horses, trainers or owner....but everyone that does not take their horses south is in the same "boat"....

…….The horses are now stepping up the speed; they go two trips each week. Today Fantail went her mile in 2:19, Mariko in 2:20. This is close to the optimum target at this date. Good and bad observations.  Fantail appears to have good speed; however her attention span is still not great. Marty has every piece of equipment in the barn on her head to make her only see the racetrack but she sees everything.   Still she motors along looking left and right.  Hopefully a bit more maturity and being stressed with faster speeds will focus her.
…….  Mariko made a break early today (which we don't like to see) but she got going and still went in 2:20 with no breaks for the rest of her mile.  Knock on wood, she has a nice way of trotting and seems very mature for a yearling.
They will go (hopefully) a little bit faster each day.  Time is tricky - but generally speaking they need to get down to around 2:10 on the farm track.  That will at the very least, get them into fair races.  And it may be good enough for stakes racing because between the racetrack surfaces and race bikes - horses usually time about 5 - 6 seconds faster on a real racetrack.

And this encouraging e-mail from Marty in May.

……..“Hello Jim,
Both fillies trained today. We had no rain today and the track was fine.
Fantail went in 2:08 and Mariko went in 2:11. Fantail is better following but lost her training partner with a break so she had to finish by herself. She is not the best gaited but has done everything I ask of her.
Mariko was on track for 2:09 but knuckled over in the last turn and made a break; She did catch back quick and finished her mile good. She is a lot like Whisk but I think bigger and just made a misstep in the turn. Perhaps her stifles were getting tired, but the fact she came back trotting strong is good.
I will train back next week and plan to start qualifying probably the week after but I am not sure of that schedule yet.

…..It’s getting close to summer gang!

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Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
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