I’m a bit irritated and, ultimately, it’s my own fault.
Tabby Lane was sidelined a few weeks after she turned an ankle a bit in her last race. Some R&R and she’s feeling pretty good about life and ready to race again, I just needed to find her a spot. The problem is that the spots I’d like to go in simply don’t exist.
Ideally I’d like to see her in a $10,000 or $12,500 claiming race. Those levels appear to be right in her wheelhouse and, while no guarantees, she stands a fair chance at winning. $16,000 would be a bit more problematical as you’re never sure what you’re getting: real $16,000 horses, $12,000 moving up or a bunch of $25,000 horses dropping in. As you can imagine, each race can shape up much differently depending upon the entrants. We won’t get the chance to find out though.
The game plan was to try Tabby at $16,000 and see just how well the old (6 years – no old, but old enough after racing 39 times in 4 years) mare was doing. If she could handle it, then great, that would work out well as there was another shot at it the last weekend of the meet. That race didn’t fill, however. Not even close. Then our choices became a $7500 claiming race going her preferred distance or a $7500 starter allowance (not up for sale) but only going 6 furlongs . I opted for the latter. I lost.
Lest anyone think I’m ripping on Canterbury or the racing secretary for this, I’m not. You have to write races that will fill with horses. The last time a straight $16,000 claiming race was written only Tabby and 2 others entered. This Saturday, six of the eight races are for horses worth $5,000 or less. The smallest field is eight while one has 10 and a couple of have nine. I don’t begrudge them writing those races – they fill. That’s the point of writing the races! I get that. However it also means that I need to possibly reevaluate my strategy moving forward.
Claiming around $10,000 and coming up here and racing has resulted in 10 wins over three years with earnings of over $100,000. Unless the new purse structure attracts better stables and horses then that strategy – at least as racing at Canterbury goes – makes no sense. It could mean I need to go cheap or go elsewhere.
It could very well be that the lower classes of horses are staying here until the end of the meet because they can’t run for more elsewhere. That makes sense. I need to keep an eye on the winter and see what the spring is going to bring before deciding on what to do for the 2013 season. It’s hard to read the tea leaves and make the right call, but as Tom Hanks once said in A League of Their Own, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”