I’m praying that it won’t rain tomorrow.
If it does, and the Grade II Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes is taken off the turf at Saratoga, trainer Richard Dutrow will send his recently claimed three-year-old filly, Indian Tale, to the starting gate for what will be her fifth race in 14 days. What in the world is he thinking?
The controversial conditioner must not have been in the room at the Gideon Putnam last Sunday when the University of Glasgow’s Tim Parkin delivered his compelling presentation on The Jockey Club‘s Equine Injury Database (EID), highlighting what are now becoming predictable causative factors leading to race-related catastrophic breakdowns.
Based on an analysis of 1.5 million starts between November, 2008 and October, 2010, EID researchers have been able to identify certain variables that put thoroughbred racehorses at greatest risk of fatal lower limb injuries. Among these is the number of starts within one and six months prior to a particular race, with a positive correlation between a higher number of starts and a higher risk of injury. Having made four starts within an 11-day period this month alone, Indian Tale seems to be moving rapidly into a high-risk category, and that’s a shame.
Purchased for $65,000 by Flying Zee Stables at the 2010 Midlantic Two-Year-Old-In-Training Sale, Indian Tale had been slowly and carefully nurtured by her original trainer, Carlos Martin, who had her perfectly primed to win her debut: a five-and-a-half furlong maiden special weight contest at Aqueduct last November. She didn’t race again until April of this year, when she finished a tiring seventh against $50,000 claiming foes at Gulfstream.
After that lackluster effort, Martin worked with the filly for three months before entering her again at Saratoga, in a five-and-a-half-furlong Allowance/Optional Claiming race on August 7th. Indian Tale rewarded the trainer’s patience with a sharp second place finish, but when she got back to the unsaddling area, she was led to Dutrow’s barn, rather than to Martin’s, having been haltered for $35,000.
Dutrow wheeled Indian Tale right back four days later in a $75,000 claimer at seven furlongs, and her new owner, J. W. Singer LLC (Jose Singer) collected the $33,000 winner’s share of the purse after the filly demonstrated a strong closing kick and got up to win by more than three lengths.
Far from being content to have virtually broken even on Indian Tale’s purchase price in a matter of days, the Singer/Dutrow team apparently figured that they could keep squeezing the lemon until the game filly ran dry. So Dutrow waited only two days before he entered her again, this time in a one-mile contest originally carded for the turf. And on August 15th, just four days after her second career victory, Indian Tale entered the starting gate again, in a seven-furlong allowance race that was switched to the dirt when the rains intervened. Once again, she ran her heart out, and in spite of having been bumped at the break, she finished a willing second while contributing another $12,720 to the coffers of her connections. But they wanted more.
As racing fans watched in disbelief, Indian Tale was led to the starting gate yet again just two days ago, on August 18th, in a one-mile grassy starter handicap. This time, though, the filly had finally had enough. After colliding with another horse soon after the start, she never got into the fray and was eased in the stretch, crossing the finish line some 40 lengths behind the winner. The lemon had finally been squeezed dry, or so it appeared to everyone but the Singer/Dutrow camp.
Undeterred by the exhausted filly’s performance, they’ve entered Indian Tale to run in tomorrow’s Lake Placid, but she’s listed as “main track only,” and will only go if wet weather forces the race off the turf.
By Storm Cat‘s high-class son, Tale of the Cat, out of the A. P. Indy mare, Indy Power, Indian Tale was bred to be a good one. Her third dam is a half-sister to influential sire, Clever Trick, and her fourth dam, Kankakee Miss, is the ancestress of Queen’s Plate-G1 winner,Alydeed.
Though she may not have quite lived up to her lofty genetic heritage, Indian Tale has shown courage and heart and a modicum of talent, giving and giving until she had nothing more to offer. She deserves better than to be run into the ground.
Special thanks to photographer Tod Marks for the use of his win photo of Indian Tale.