Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Path To The Queen's Plate: Getting Equipped For The Plate Trial

What follows is the fourth installment of my ongoing diary detailing the preparation and hard work that goes into training a contender for the Queen's Plate. While many racing fans only see the two minutes of action that occurs on the track, trainer Ian Black has graciously provided Triple Dead Heat with access to his barn as he conditions Southdale for North America's oldest thoroughbred graded stakes race. Over the coming weeks I will introduce you to the people behind the scenes, provide footage from workouts, and inside access to race day events. I'm thankful to Ian Black and his team for this opportunity and hope the resulting diary will be as much fun to read as it has been for me to experience.

May 9, 2009 Diary Entry An Introduction including a Cast of Characters.
May 13, 2009 Diary Entry A Workout Day For Southdale.
May 25, 2009 Diary Entry Team Southdale Rallies Around Rahy's Attorney

Tuesday May 26, 2009
A workout day brings added excitement to the already bustling place of business that is Ian Black's barn. There is added urgency to the tasks at hand and expectations are high. Southdale's groom, Aline, was very busy on Monday morning putting the colt together for his upcoming five furlong workout. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson arrived early to get instructions from Mr. Black. Even Wilson's agent, Mike Luider, stopped by the barn to check up on the Plate hopeful and say hello.

As noted in yesterday's post, Southdale is busy waiting for a race that does not appear to be going forward. So, rather than preparing as usual for what might have been a mid-week race, Black instead created a workout situation that will leave the horse sharp enough to race during the week, if required, but also ready to step up and face the potential challenge of Sunday's Plate Trial.

As the 8:30Am workout time approached, Aline finished putting the finishing touches on Southdale's equipment. The process leads nicely into this interview with assistant trainer Skip Bowen regarding the equipment and "fuel" that make Southdale giddy up and go.

TDH: What equipment does Southdale wear when racing?
JB: Southdale is simple. Just a D-Bit , nose band and tongue tie. The less equipment the better because that means they're a natural. You hate to see a horse with a cage band and an extension blinker and all sorts of gear because you know that horse has issues. When you can run in just a D-Bit and a tongue tie then you know you're doing something right and the horse is doing something right.

TDH: Does Southdale have a special diet compared to other horses in training?
JB: Every horse is a little bit different. You put the horse on a feed program and we have a feed that's specially made for him called the complete feed. We do add supplements to it, but the only difference is how much they can eat. Rahy would eat ten quarts, Southie eats 12 quarts total at dinner. They all get fed the same, just different quantities.

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There you have it. Southdale is fed, groomed, tacked up, the jockey has arrived and the trainer has put a plan together. All that is left is for Southdale to get out on the track and strut his stuff.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Southdale with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard heads out to the track under the watchful eye of trainer Ian Black

Up, Up and Away! Southdale rockets down the backstretch

Southdale sprinting away under Emma-Jayne's hold

Afterwards, Ian Black and Emma-Jayne Wilson discuss the workout

Skip Bowen leads Southdale back to the barn

Out of the dark, into the light...

I walked back to the barn with Mr. Black after the workout and we discussed how few options there are for distance races for three year-olds in comparison to the importance placed on classic races such as the Kentucky Derby and Queen's Plate which are both run at ten furlongs. Black suggested that when it comes to a mile and a quarter, that genetics may play a more crucial role than the training. Certainly Southdale has the breeding to run a distance, and Black is looking forward to seeing Southdale attempt two turns.

While Southie cooled out after working five furlongs in 1:00.40, I visited with his flatmates who were busy on their own projects.

Hey Toogie, Mine That Bird! Wollemi Pine grazed between the barns amidst a flock of seagulls. Okay, fine, they were pigeons.

A happy Rahy's Attorney, one day after his exhilarating second place finish in the Connaught Cup, asked politely for mints.

Southdale's little sister obliged my request for a photograph

Up next for Southdale is most like Sunday's Queen's Plate Trial which was won in 2008 by eventual Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon.

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NOTE: I will be updating regular features such as Outrageous Odds and the Woodbine Watch List later this week. As well, I'll be posting pictures from an Ontario farm tour on Friday morning. Thank you for your patience!

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