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Vet offers thoughts about girls racing against the boys
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

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Freehold, NJ --- Dr. Patty Hogan, of Cream Ridge, New Jersey, is an equine surgeon with a client list that reads like a “Who’s Who” in the world of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. She has treated many top-flight equine athletes in the two sports, regardless of gender. Hogan shared her thoughts on the circumstances that come together when a female horse of any age is able to compete and beat their nearly-always faster and stronger male counterparts.

“The ones that I’ve seen, I liken it to the differences between girls and boys growing up,” Hogan said. “There are certain girls that are like tomboys. I think they are exceptionally talented individuals that are more than just talented pacers or trotters; they’re also very tenacious and focused. They just seem to be horses that have an incredible competitive ability. They’re not just following orders, they really want to win. They seem to be different in that regard.

“I noticed they are all different builds. Not necessarily big or small; all different shapes and sizes. To me, the fillies that I have seen are not extremely feminine looking. They all remind me of tomboys, very gritty looking horses. I didn’t think they were masculine, but they weren’t fine or very feminine looking fillies; very athletic looking builds, but not particularly feminine.”

Hogan said that sometimes the attitudes of the people behind the horses are as important as the ability or gait of the filly or mare.

“I’m not sure it’s because of the horses themselves or because of the people managing them,” Hogan said. “People generally think trotters can be more competitive (against males) because having a good gait is so key. Pacers can get away with not being so finely gaited yet they have incredible speed, so I think that’s where that comes in. There’s been a lot of great (pacing mares) like Handle With Care and Silk Stockings, real tough, tough pacing mares that were competitive against males. I guess that has more to do with thinking the gait would make them more even.”

She brushed off the oft-held belief that a filly may lack the mental toughness to race against males, and might not recover her attitude if beaten.

“I don’t think it bothers those fillies,” she emphasized. “I don’t think so at all. Those kinds of horses are different. They are such competitors, they want to win and they recognize competition. I don’t think they’re like that. They’re not sulky; you point them toward the racetrack and they want to go. I don’t think they’re softies like that.”

Hogan said she would like to see See You At Peelers as much as any racing fan.

“I think she definitely deserves the chance,” she noted. “She has absolutely proven herself of that. We should see it more; in Europe, it’s very common. Granted, they all race trotters, but they always have mixed fields. I think it would be great to see more of an open type racing environment.”

The perspective of See You At Peelers’ trainer, Jimmy Takter, is also a major factor, said Hogan, who has treated horses from his stable.

“He absolutely judges his horse as an athlete, not by gender,” she said. “He’s a fantastic judge of horseflesh as an athlete. He never looks at one and says this is a filly, this is a colt. It’s more this is my competitor, this is my racehorse -- that’s how he looks at it. I think he is very savvy in that regard. He’s a good judge of what these horses can do and he thinks that this horse can do that -- on a half-mile track. He truly believes it, so I think she’s a force to be reckoned with.”

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