Training Up to a Specific Race

October 6, 2019

JJ Graci answers a reader’s question about training up to a specific stake or race….

Brian asks, ” How do you train a horse for a particular Stake Race”. Good question Brian. I’m sure you are not the only one who is interested. 

A Trainer really needs to know his horse. There are a few things as a trainer that you have to take into consideration. How far away is the race you are pointing for and more importantly how far is the distance of the race.  

It takes a horse and a trainer to be on the same page. As I said earlier, a trainer needs to know his horse. Some horses don’t mind having months between races while others like to keep fit by running races and not training as hard. 

Obviously the shorter the race the easier it is to keep him racing fit. A lot of horses like to run fresh, meaning they like some time between races. With that being said, to keep your horse in condition, he needs to breeze on a steady basis, usually meaning once a week. 

Depending on their next start is how far you are going to work him and how fast. Some horses need to work in company, meaning with another horse. It’s easier if your horse is a good work horse, you don’t  have to get after him as much. Let’s face it, every time you work him you stand a chance to come up with a problem. Even though it is a controlled work… meaning you tell the jock or exercise rider how fast you want him to go. As I said, some horses want to race not train. Horses are likely humans… you have those who love to work and those who need some urging. It’s really important not to miss works when you are training to a race. Generally, if you miss a work you lose two weeks of conditioning. Each week you increase the distance until you are comfortable he has enough air in his lungs and his muscle mass is there. 

You can figure that by how fast he works and how much water he drinks while he is cooling out. And how long it takes him to cool out, generally 30 to 40 minutes will get it done. I would prefer to race them fit not train them. As I said, too many things happen while training, not necessarily yours or the horse’s fault.
No matter how fit you get them training, there is nothing better than racing. One race is worth 5 works and an opportunity to earn purse money while you’re prepping for the stake. It takes a special horse to go months between races and be at the top of his game. 
As a trainer you want him to peak the day of the race and not leave it on the track training. It all comes down to the trainer and how well he knows his horse. 

I hope Brian that explains how we train a horse months between races. 

Any Questions or something you like me to explain just let me know in the comments below. Remember, you will never learn if you don’t ask. See you at the Races!!! 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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