Pressure on Triple Crown hopefuls: Shaikh Hamdan

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Pressure on Triple Crown hopefuls: Shaikh Hamdan

Most horses break down, says top thoroughbred owner

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 25 May 2015, 12:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:34 PM

American Pharoah is another Triple Crown contender that will try to avoid California Chrome’s fate on June 6. — AFP

Sir Bu Nuayr Island — Horses attempting to complete the elusive Triple Crown over the last four decades failed because they often face too much pressure to perform in a short space of time, Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, said.

“At this time of the year, to me the reason is that they are still young to run three times in five weeks,” Shaikh Hamdan, one of the world’s top thoroughbred owners and breeders, told Reuters in a rare interview aboard his yacht Al Fahedi. “That is a lot of pressure. To me it is very difficult to see the horse run in top races three times in five weeks.”

Last year, California Chrome joined the long list of three-year olds to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, only to miss out on the Triple Crown by failing to win the final longest test in the Belmont Stakes. Since Affirmed last completed the testing race series in 1978, 13 Triple Crown hopefuls have come up short in the Belmont. “Good horses sometimes have so much pressure. Most of them, they break down,” said Shaikh Hamdan. “The point is (anti-bleeding medication) Lasix they give to the horses. Sometimes the horses do not perform. They force them to perform and they say no, it is for bleeding,” he said.

“But I think it is much safer for the horse in Europe. They look after the horse (more) than America. That is my own opinion.”

US racing officials have been heavily criticised in international horse racing circles for allowing their horses to run on various medications, including anti-bleeding diuretics such as Lasix and Salix.

All of the world’s major racing regions, apart from North America, ban the use of these drugs in the belief they unfairly enhance performance and pose health risks to horses. They can also mask the use of other medication.

American Pharoah is another Triple Crown contender that will try to avoid California Chrome’s fate on June 6 after a comfortable seven-length victory in the rain-soaked Preakness Stakes on May 16.MAsked how he saw American Pharoah’s chances to finally break the vicious circle, Shaikh Hamdan said: “He won the Preakness much better (than the Kentucky Derby) but it was on the sloppy track. “When he won the Kentucky (Derby), he hit the front in the last 150 yards. So he might find another gear to complete the Triple Crown. But do not forget it is 37 years since Affirmed.”

Some owners have criticised in the past the practise of some contenders skipping the second leg if they do not succeed in the initial race, making the Triple Crown hopefuls face fresher rivals in the most testing 1.5-mile (2.4 km) run.

Godolphin’s Frosted, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby but did not run in the Preakness, could be such a challenge for American Pharoah. “I think it is His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who’s got a horse that has a chance in the Belmont. He ran in the Kentucky Derby and finished strong and I expect him to run a good race,” Shaikh Hamdan said, referring to his brother and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

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