Posted by Avram Freedberg
Our season in Saratoga was marred only by the performance of our big girl, Ahvee’s Destiny. She has always loved the Saratoga race course but this summer she has not even been competitive.
After entering her in two Stakes races at a cost of $2K, Linda called us late Friday evening. The discussion was supposed to center on the competition in both races and her evaluation of which race we should actually run in. After telling us, she thought the girls’ race that was the first race on Saturday, she said she thought the horse looked “dull” when training in the morning. Therefore, she thought it might be better to scratch her than to run her in either race.
We had packed up for a last weekend in Saratoga and were raring to go. So, hearing this at the eleventh hour was quite distressing. Linda suggested we see how Destiny trained on Saturday morning and then make a go/no-go decision.
Since Destiny trains early, we expected to hear from Linda by 6:30-7AM. We called her at 7:30 to find her busy schooling horses at the gate. When she called us back with the word that Destiny was still looking very dull, it was almost 8AM. She wanted to scratch her and aim for a big $200K race in late September. As much as I argue my opinion, I’ve always accepted her decision in the end. However, Rhoda pointed out that Linda had told us that Awakino Cat was sore and could not possibly win the last race Destiny had lost. Yet, Awakino won that race. Maybe she was wrong here too. Plus, we were looking forward to going to Saratoga. So, we decided to run.
Well, we decided to run and we had to run fast because it was 8:30 and we had to finish packing, get dressed, etc for our 3-hour trip to the Spa. This was very stressful but we made it easily by putting the peddle to the metal. On this cool day, Ahvee’s Destiny arrived sweaty to the paddock. She was telling us she was not ready to run. Linda was right.
This was confirmed when the race began. She had nothing coming out of the gate and was never in the race. It was a very big downer.
Still, the next morning we gave her some loving and lots of carrots and treats. We did the same for Little Ahvee (It’s Truly Ahvee), Hear the Footsteps and Obviously Tuesday. Millie Money had yet to train that morning, so we didn’t feed her. It’s interesting that all the horses have different ways of eating the snacks… from gobbling up anything (Obviously Tuesday) to gingerly nibbling (Hear the Footsteps).
Tomorrow they will take a blood sample from Destiny to try and find a cause for her condition. Otherwise, she will just rest for a while and aim for a race in mid-October. If she runs poorly then and we have found no other cause, it may be time to send her to the breeding shed.
Another word about the trainer-owner relationship. Surely, Linda did not find out about Ahvee’s Destiny’s dull condition at 8PM on Friday. Yet on Friday, she spent our money to enter Destiny in the race with the boys on Monday. This makes no sense if she was considering not racing her at all. Also, we were gearing up for our visit, a visit we would not have made unless we had a race scheduled for one of our horses. So, is Linda stupid? Is she insensitive? I think neither. However, she is busy… so busy that she doesn’t focus on situations until the last moment. This can be disastrous for the owner’s pocket book – as we saw here and earlier in the meet when we spent entry money in Canada -and for the owner’s psyche. Plus it can be bad for the horse, if the wrong decision is made at the last minute with the stress of an immediate deadline.
I don’t know if this is different with other trainers but it is a real negative with Linda. I don’t think she really gets it, but maybe unhappy owners are viewed as coming with the territory and the loss of an owner is something she figures into her business plan. You may think we sound like difficult owners. However, I think if she would be more forward looking and realize she’s hurting our enthusiasm as well as our pocketbook when she makes these last minute decisions, we’d be wonderful owners… but I guess everyone thinks that way.
After a rough start in a house with a new landlord, we really enjoyed the location. We’ve tried to re-rent for next year but the owners have not been responsive. So, we bid on the house next door that’s on the market. We actually thought we had a deal on Thursday night when received a signed contract. However, they got another offer and there are enough “outs” In our contract to make this into a bidding situation. I doubt we’ll participate but I’ve learned to never say never.
Now, it’s time to celebrate the Jewish New Year and then it’s off to Belmont.
Shana tova (Happy new year) to all,
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