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Monday, December 9, 2013

Can trainers really be that good?

It is no secret that when certain trainers on various circuits claim a horse (or receive a horse from another trainer by the owner) that many of the horses improve dramatically in their next start.  Are these trainers that talented?  Do they know something that most all the other trainers don't know that can make a horse improve more than a few lengths?

Here are a few examples of recent runners on the NYRA circuit who were claimed or switched barns and they improved a lot per their Today's Racing Digest Final Time Ratings in their next starts:

Claimed from Wesley Ward by David Jacobson July 28, Barrister Jim returned to win Nov 1 and improved his Final Time Rating (second last column on the right) from a 108 to a 135.

Moved into the Jason Servis barn after his 7th June 22, Dr. Wesley won his next two starts and earned a 137 and 156 Final Time Rating.

Claimed from Gary Contessa by Rudy Rodriguez Sept 19, Inmyfathersimage won by over eight lengths earning a 125 Final Time Rating Nov 7.

Claimed from Eddie Kenneally by David Jacobson off his win Oct 4, Pass The Tap went from a 105 Final Time Rating to a 129 Final Time Rating Nov 8.

Moved from the Bob Baffert stable to the David Jacobson stable after his 4th vs. $20,000 Maiden-Claimers Oct 5, Spirited Touch easily beat $50,000 Maiden-Claimers Nov 7 earning a 128 Final Time Rating.

As those of us know that go to the races or the OTB, when these runners win and/or improve their numbers dramatically, you will hear from other horseplayers "that trainer knows what drugs to use" or "they have the juice".  Now imagine yourself as a new fan and you hear this.  You might think to yourself:  "Is this what is really happening and that some trainers have better drugs?"

Most horseplayers will assume that this is the case.  They can't explain what happens to turn around a horse like this as we do not know what a trainer does to make this happen.  The trainer doesn't come out and say what they did and who could blame them.  They do not want to give out their methods.  

Unfortunately, this assumption of drug use is difficult to hide as legal medications such as Lasix and Bute are allowed on race day in this country and Canada.  Can these medications hide other illegal substances?  Are current drug tests not finding new substances?  

Until there are new methods to detect if there is any illegal drug use going on, this assumption by many horseplayers will not change.  A recent movement to rid any race day medication has deteriorated.  There are no 24/7 security cameras in the barns on the backstretch to catch any illegal activity.  Because of this, expect to see more of these big turnarounds to continue to happen without any reasonable explanation.

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