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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Opinion: Give Me A Break


By Dick Dowey

On Tuesday, trainer Joe Sharp was given every chance to fully explain why he postponed Girvin's workout on Monday. In the opinion of this writer, he didn't.

During a teleconference sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, instead of saying why he skipped the workout, Sharp twice said the reason he didn't have the workout was because he decided not to have it. He was given two explicit opportunities to be specific.

A link to the transcript of the teleconference is here.

Fast forward some 28 hours, and rarely have I seen such a group of bewildering statements about a prominent race horse in such a short period of time. In fact, I can't remember a comparable example as I write this.

A story posted Wednesday at the Blood-Horse website reveals the horse didn't train that morning at Keeneland. Sharp told the reporter it was a planned day off. However, an official at Keeneland reported to media on Tuesday that Sharp said during the teleconference that Girvin would gallop Wednesday on Keeneland's synthetic training track.

In that story, Sharp revealed to Blood-Horse that Girvin was taken earlier this week to the Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center facility in Versailles, Ky., to use its hyperbaric chamber. Not a word about that was uttered during Tuesday's teleconference.

Sharp told Keeneland officials on Monday at Keeneland that Girvin would work on Friday. At least that's what Keeneland told the rest of us. He told Blood-Horse on Wednesday that the workout will be on Friday or Saturday. He told Daily Racing Form on Wednesday it will be Saturday.

The Blood-Horse reporter, Alicia Wincze Hughes, asked Sharp a direct question as to whether Girvin is having foot issues. His response was non-responsive: "He had an issue we made public back in January, so yeah, he has a history of having some issues," he said. There was no mention of Z-bar shoes in Hughes' story.

Yet Jay Privman at DRF reported the same day that Girvin was seen wearing Z-bar shoes and that he asked Sharp why Girvin was training in Z-bar shoes when he had not raced in them. Sharp replied, “He’s never raced in Z-bars, so that wouldn’t be accurate anyway.” Huh? Again, non-responsive.

No matter what Sharp does or does not tell the media, and thus the betting public, about Girvin, it's not going to change the horse's status or fitness one iota. So what is all this about anyway?

We all recognize that horses at all levels have issues from time to time, and we all recognize that not all those issues are disclosed to the public even with the top horses. We know that training horses is a demanding job requiring much skill, patience and time.

But when a Kentucky Derby horse has a major hiccup in his routine, such as missing his penultimate Derby workout, it's time for the trainer to make disclosure to the betting public in a direct and timely way. Were it not for the betting public, race horse trainers would have a pretty hard time making a living.


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