Home > Running Down a Dream > Chapter 10 - Qualifying the Fillies

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

Chapter 10 - Qualifying the Fillies
'The Times They are a Changing'
By Bob Dylan, 1964

Photo Source: Wikipedia

June 6, 2011

The computer is wonderful for following our horses.  The USTA website virtually tracks every step of every horse.  Soon you will find this site easy to use and very interesting to chart our races and scout our competition.  It's a lot of fun.  Let me walk you thru the basic process of finding when and where our horses are in a race.

Go to the USTA - United States Trotting Association site . Look for the RACING (entries/results) tab (on the band below the USTA logo)– when you click on you will come to a US entries/results weekly calendar – click on Wednesday, June 8.

This will take you to all the races on this day.  We are interested in “The Meadows” (today there are two listings for the Meadows, the morning is qualifiers, the evening is real races for money) - click on the qualifiers.

You will see the list of races – click on the word “HERE” to view a scroll of all the individual races.  This will show you each race, the horses entered, driver, trainer, post position, etc. in each race.   Look for our fillies! This will be the first time Fantail and Mariko will be listed (let’s hope it is a regular happening).  We are in the fourth and fifth race.
Tomorrow..after the race...you repeat the exact same procedure.  Except tomorrow you will see a detailed recap of the race – which horse finished where and how fast they raced the mile (this is called "the charted line").  Thursday I will recap the charted lines for the fillies. So we are off to qualifying races!

It occurred to me that we throw around the term “qualifying” all the time but you guys may not know for sure what we are talking about. 

A qualifier is a race that looks just like a regular race but where winning is not the objective.  There is no betting and few spectators beside the owners and the trainers. The objective in a qualifying race is to prove that your horse can cover the mile in a specific amount of time.  Different races demand that your horse must meet different times.

For example, Fantail Hanover is a 2-year-old pacer.  Before she can race at the fairs she must prove she can pace a mile in 2:15 seconds.  Before she can race at a racetrack she must prove she can pace in 2:04 seconds.  Until she proves this ability (qualifies) she cannot enter the races. The qualifying times for trotters like Mariko are a few seconds slower.  So cross your fingers…they try on Wednesday.

June 8, 2011

Mariko did outstanding in her qualifier, better than we hoped.  Out of about 60 trotters trying to qualify her time (2:04) she was easily in the top 10.  Most importantly, she stayed on stride.  If you look below at the charted lines, you can visualize the race.  Mariko was in the 6 position behind the starting gate; by the time they reached the quarter mile mark she was second.  Her first quarter was very good for a young horse (around 31 seconds).  At the half-mile mark, the No. 1 horse took the lead and Mariko was in third place.  She trotted the rest of the race very steady and finished a solid third, in a solid time.  This is outstanding for a first effort.  She made the qualifying time for racing in stakes races.  She QUALIFIED.
Fantail was disappointing.   She was 8 lengths back at the start and basically lost ground at every quarter.  The only positive is she made the qualifying time for fair racing (barely).   2:07 and 24 lengths back is not competitive for a pacer.  Many things could have happened....she may have been nervous or upset or maybe she just does not have what it takes.  We have a feeling Marty will try again with her next week.  We have to see improvement in the next month or we will turn her out.  It will be interesting to see what Marty thinks happened.  After all, Fantail did a mile on the farm at this speed - so she should have been about five seconds faster at the racetrack.
So...we are excited about Mariko, a little concerned about Fantail.
June 13, 2011
In her second try, Fantail covered the mile in 2:03.  This means she DID qualify for both fair and racetrack racing.  It does not matter how much she beats the qualifying time by, you can race at 2:04 or ten seconds faster, it’s a very simple metric – you made the time or you did not make the time; you qualified, or you did not qualify.

It’s disappointing if your horse does not qualify but it’s not the end of the world, you can keep trying.   All of the racetracks set aside a day for qualifying races.  Even older horses must qualify any time they have not raced for thirty days.  If they have been resting or recuperating and been off the racetrack, before they can return to racing they must show that they are still capable of racing at a competitive speed.

BTW.  The technical term of a harness race horse is a “Standardbred.”  The standard part of the word relates to a horse being bred to trot or pace to a certain standard of time.  Over the past century, the designated standard time has been lowered because the breed had developed the ability to go faster.  A hundred years ago, Fantail’s modest qualifying time of 2:03 and Mariko’s 2:04 would have been world-class times, today; it barely gets them into a race.

If you go to this site, you can watch the qualifiers [Ed. Note: Click here for YouTube link]. Move the slider to the 7:25 mark.  this will be race 4.   Mariko will be the 6 horse but she will be in the second position soon after the start.  The Driver, Marty, wears a powder Blue outfit, then keep the video rolling to the next race, race 5, Fantail starts in the middle and drifts to the back.
Hey... our horses...racing...very cool!
Next, we try to win some money.  Here is a surprise, Marty is going to try and get Mariko in a race on Saturday.  It will be a race for 2YO's only.  The purse is $7,500.  If she draws in (gets picked for this race) she will race, if she does not draw in she will go to another qualifier next week.  They draw for the Saturday race is on Tuesday.

Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.

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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