October 1, 2023


The Brett Beasley letter of June 9 was so entire in the analysis of the modifications in racing since the 1970s-’80s that I will have to publish to say “Amen.” Our Loblolly Stable was energetic for the duration of that period (1972-’95) and loved some achievement: 3 Champions and 100-plus stakes wins primarily at property in Arkansas and New York.

Having said that, by the 1990s it was important to disperse Loblolly to dissolve a marital partnership. Loblolly disappeared and Shortleaf Steady appeared. (I grow trees for a living­ to afford to race horses.) The two endeavors involve tolerance and lengthy-phrase motivation.

Soon after a dozen several years of Shortleaf racing only a couple head, my pedigree analyst son Ed (experienced by Bill Oppenheim) inspired me to get critical once again in 2010.

What I swiftly regarded was how distinctive the sector experienced turn out to be in the 15 years considering the fact that Loblolly was dispersed and especially due to the fact I entered the sport 50-furthermore years in the past.

The main variance I mentioned was how rigid modern-day trainers have turn out to be about insisting on months and even months in between begins. This is wholly contrary to how Hall of Fame trainers operated in the “old days.” We’ve known and raced from some of the greats: Woody Stephens, Allen Jerkens, LeRoy Jolley, Laz Barrera, Mack Miller, Jack Van Berg, and many others.

I remember Conquistador Cielo in 1982 successful the Achieved Mile on Monday and the Belmont on Saturday for Woody. In fact, in 1980 our colt Temperence Hill ran three races in 13 times for Joe Cantey his third was profitable the Belmont Stakes. “Lazy SOB,” I remember Joe commenting.

Cox’s Ridge at 3 in New York in 1977 from August to November ran nine instances, successful 8 stakes with races spaced at 15, 12, 16, 14, 14, and 12 times. He was generally loaded with 130 lbs in the handicaps. He had 27 starts off in two-plus yrs. But, he was not a Winner. Seattle Slew bought in the way, but he was a wonderful sire.

We could go on and on with Champions Vanlandingham, Prairie Bayou, and innumerable other people producing sound throughout that period, all adhering to the exact same routine. Doc Lavin in Goshen, Ky., was a important issue in our results. Sensible man. Superior counsel.

1 can normally conjure aberrations to the norm to make a point, but the styles of earlier racing are really distinct from nowadays. Nonetheless, irrespective of the trainers’ new suggestions, the horses will not operate any a lot quicker, remain audio any lengthier, or exhibit any important enhancement from 50 several years ago. Racing supporters are missing about 50 percent of what they at the time appreciated in racing. I’ve given up trying to transform their patterns.

And breeding was very diverse then. Syndication of stallions was 36 shares. Four breeding rights were being reserved for the farm. Then the Breeders’ Cup arrived on. Four a lot more seasons. How will the stallion ever go over them all? Vets discovered and devices improved. Credit to John Gaines for his forward imagining in racing and breeding, which was opposed by almost all major gamers. Tradition.

But additional than any other transform is that the media handles the profits and amplifies their relevance far much more than racing. Of study course, that is wherever the promotion cash is. Breeding to race is passé and only a couple of do that these days, unlike the previously era when racing was king and the sales had been considered to be for the main breeders’ discards. Commercial breeding and sales now dictate market affairs and product sales horses are substantially improved.

I also recall the gross sales of the 1970s and ’80s. Most prospective buyers sought only pedigree and normally hardly ever appeared at the horses on the catalog webpage. Great for Loblolly. Cantey had us concentration on the “splendid individual” with pedigree as a secondary consideration with Doc Lavin advising. Cox’s Ridge and Temperence Hill ended up the results. Before long, conformation and scope became the get of the day and now customers mainly hone in on the identical horses. We now predominantly increase our possess horses at Stone Farm, a bluegrass establishment in the Hancock custom, and at McDowell Farm in Arkansas.

I’m even now assured that the “throwback horse” will prevail disproportionately to their numbers, but that would not indicate it is a healthful natural environment for the business in the long expression.

John E. Anthony, President
Shortleaf Stable, Inc.
Hot Springs, Arkansas


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