Horse Conformation

You may have heard the term “conformation” many times as we refer to Yodeler or Ana. And as we move into the yearling sale, you’ll hear it even more frequently.

“Conformation” simply refers to how the horse is “conformed” or built. Just like us, all horses are built differently. The reason we are so concerned with conformation is that it can ultimately affect performance and efficiency of movement.

Are you pigeon-toed, splayed footed? Walk like a duck? If you have any of these conformation “faults” then you may put stress on your joints and be more prone to injury. The same applies to horses. It’s not to say that a horse with one of these faults can’t be successful or fast, it just may mean that they may be more susceptible to injury because of their structure.

When the “experts” talk about conformation, they are tending to compare to certain ideal standards. They are also looking for proportion and balance. Both lend themselves to performance.

I’ve included some diagrams here as a reference. Forgive the spelling mistakes on the images – I pulled these from elsewhere online.

Leg Conformation 

horse-front-leg horse-rear-leg

This video was produced by Purdue University students to explain conformation and is worth a watch even though it isn’t Thoroughbred specific. Good conformation is applicable for all breeds and disciplines (this video won’t display in your email, so visit to watch it within the blog).

It is perhaps easiest to talk conformation when you are able to make comparisons. For this, see the image below and weigh in on which order you’d place them in based on their conformation!


Have your favorite? Check this link for the expert’s evaluation of these three horses and see if you picked correctly!



Broodmare of the Week

Broodmare of the Week

Dancing Yodeler continues to receive accolades after his win Sunday. Military Hawk blog, in addition to naming his race the number one moment in Washington racing last week also crowned his dam “Broodmare of the Week.”

For an excellent read about Dancing Yodeler’s pedigree, visit the Military Hawk Blog. Author Will Brewer will be in attendance at our August 2 Sales Seminar event and will also make himself available at the WTBOA Yearling Sale to answer any questions.

He’s an excellent resource and mentor for anyone looking to further their ownership endeavors.

WTBOA Yearling Sale

The “Catalog” is now available online of the horses entered in the WTBOA (Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association) Annual Yearling Sale to be held Tuesday, August 26 at the Sales Pavilion at the North end of the Emerald Downs property. The catalog is the listing of every horse in the sale.

At the Sales Seminar we will teach you how to read a catalog page and also preview it here on the blog using Anelina’s catalog page. Sales are a big part of ownership. As discussed before, you can claim a horse, purchase it privately, or buy in a sale. Over the next month, we will be delving into the sales side of things as we lead up to the yearling sale.

Even if you don’t plan to buy, the Yearling Sale is a fun event  to attend. There is a lot of action and it’s a great way to see a lot of horses in one place. Just don’t get too excited and throw your hand up or you might walk away with your own baby racehorse!


Hip 17 (this refers to the number placed on the horse’s hip to identify it in the catalog and as it goes through the sales ring, it is a sticker that displays the number and is placed on the hip). Yearling colt by Hard Spun out of Sweet Fourty. Sold for $55,000 at last year’s yearling sale. Had it’s first start July 12 at Los Alamitos – finished 5th in a maiden special weight. Bred by Blue Ribbon Farm.

Foal by Hard Spun out of Sweet Fourty

Same horse as above but as a foal with it’s dam Sweet Fourty. Photo at Blue Ribbon Farm.


Both horses are doing well. Ana’s abscess broke last week and is draining like cottage cheese, but it looks much better. Yodeler is in fine fettle and is back on the track jogging this week. Sharon will give him a week before she decides what race he’ll be pointed to next. A reminder to continue to follow the barn protocol with petting Ana last and not touching any of the other horses. She is still contagious.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to visit the barn on Sunday, please do so before 11 am. The barn will be closed to visitors after 11 am – the Ross’ have three horses in on Sunday including Stryker Phd in the Mt. Rainier Handicap and have asked for the horses to have quiet time.

 Breakfast at the Wire

A reminder for you “rail birds” that love to come out for morning training that Breakfast at the Wire continues every Saturday in July and August. The program is 8 am – 10 am and is an opportunity to get a hearty breakfast for $6 and watch the racehorses train. Just walk on in!

Last week we had visits from trainers, gate crew, and more!




Syndicates and Partnerships

Congratulations to the Emerald Racing Club! You were named Emerald Downs’ Owner of the Week for Dancing Yodeler’s win!

We have a Winner’s Circle Presentation after the 5th race Saturday, July 19. If you’d like to be part of it, just come to the Winner’s Circle after the fifth race wearing your lanyard. We’ll make a quick presentation. Our owner of the week prize is dinner for four in the Redhook Turf Club and we have opted to pass this along to Yodeler’s groom.

The Emerald Racing Club also made the Military Hawk blog’s top ten racing moments at Emerald Downs. You can read more from Will Brewer at his blog here.

Syndicates and Partnerships

A “syndicate” is a group of individuals combined to own a horse. Any horse could be “syndicated.”

Historically, in horse racing, racehorses were owned by a single person or organization/farm. You could easily see why it was called the Sport of Kings given the costs of racehorse ownership that we’ve been reviewing monthly.

The most famous syndication was when Secretariat was retired to stud at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. He was syndicated as a stallion for 32 shares at a total price of over $6 million dollars.



We could also classify the Emerald Racing Club as a syndicate. With 128 owners, you each own 0.78% of Anelina and 0.78% of Dancing Yodeler.

Syndicates evolved to spread the costs of racehorse ownership among multiple individuals. It’s a great way to “buy-in” on a racehorse without huge financial outlay and you can find the level that is appropriate for you – whether it’s 50% ownership share, or just 5% ownership share.

Say for example, a group of you got together to buy a yearling. That’s a syndicate. Or one person could purchase a yearling and then seek out partners to campaign the horse – that would also be a syndicate.

A syndicate or partnership would be a logical next step if you’d like to continue to dabble in racehorse ownership outside the realm of the Emerald Racing Club.

For your convenience, we’ve gathered together a list of Syndicates and Partnerships that race at Emerald Downs and the contact person. This is by no means a complete list, but it is a starting point. Each syndicate is a bit different, so find the one that is right for you!

Here are some questions to consider to enter a syndicate responsibly:

  • Ask questions! It’s your money and you are entitled to know how it’s being spent. What percent of the horse will you own? What percent of expenses will you pay?
  • Understand the structure – who will make the decisions regarding the horse? Is there a syndicate manager? Will the trainer make the decisions? Or will it go to the person with the majority interest in the horse?
  • What expenses are involved, how much will you owe, and what can you earn back?
  • What type of horse or horses do you want to own? A yearling that may take two or three years to make it to the racetrack (if it makes it)? An actively racing horse? A first time starter?
  • Will you be able to visit your horse? Is this important to you?
  • Where will the horses race? If it’s important to you to see your horse race in person, then a local syndicate is a good option.

Some of you have indicated a desire to further your interests in racehorse ownership, be it this year or in the future.

If you could email me at, I will begin putting you in touch with each other in case you’d like to band together to start your own partnership.


I also wanted to pass along an excellent video series produced in the UK “How to Make a Racehorse.” It follows four youngsters as they develop for the races and is quite a good little online series. Keep in mind some of the terminology and methodology is a bit different in Europe versus the US.





Dancing Yodeler Wins Big


Dancing Yodeler did it! He won in breath stealing fashion. At the 1/4 pole, we all surely were rooting for him simply to get fifth. At the 1/8 pole, we would have been happy with fourth. But then suddenly, in the final 1/16th of a mile, something happened. Something in that big chestnut’s heart came to the surface and with his tongue flying, the game gelding bellied down and gave it his all. With his ears pinned he dug in, found another gear and closed between horses to find the front – and the crowd went wild!


The grand experience in racehorse ownership couldn’t possibly have had a more fairy tale ending than it did today on a hot, humid day. With the slightest hint of rain threatening, our California boy got the win in the 10th and final race. It capped a fantastic day for our new jockey, Leslie Mawing (three wins including the Seattle Slew Handicap).


Many thanks to trainers Larry & Sharon Ross, jockey Leslie Mawing, exercise rider Brian, and Yodeler’s groom Gumaro Martinez. It really is a team effort to get each and every horse to the races and a superb job by everyone in the Ross barn.

At the end of the day we all have our memories of the experience, but we also have the very official (and coveted) “Win Photo” taken by the track photographer.

You may order one from Reed Palmer Photography (official track photographer) for $10. This is a special promotional rate offered to Emerald Racing Club members. Email to request your photo.

For future reference (and wins), the track photographer is located on ground level of the Grandstand to your left before you exit the main gates. The photos are copyrighted, please don’t print from here.

If you captured your own and you’d like to share, please email and we’ll collect them together.

Dancing Yodeler copy

The race replay can be found at>Racing>Race Replays. DVD’s of the race are also available for $10. To order those, please just email and I can assist.

You can read the track press release on his victory here. And Official Chart from Equibase is here.

Thank you to all that attended today – and CONGRATULATIONS on your win!

YOU officially broke your maiden!






Paddock List for Sunday

Please meet at the entrance to the paddock Sunday immediately after the 9th race. You’ll be escorted in by our customer service staff. Please just check in with them, because then we know if we are missing someone.

Because it is a short field of 6 horses we are able to accommodate more people in the paddock:

  • Donna Edwards
  • Shirley Wagner
  • Cedra DuFlon-Heide
  • Annie George
  • Michael Monelli
  • Ed Milo
  • Gina Goodyear
  • Liz Ayers
  • Mark Babin
  • Shelley Davis
  • Eric Burton
  • Jim Engstrom
  • David Pitts
  • Deb Lee
  • Roberta Pease
  • Robert Crowe
  • Arve Glenn
  • Joy Carlson

The analysis in the Daily Racing From by Nick Rousso has Dancing Yodeler predicted to run second: ” But if War Wizard is at less than 100 percent, then Dancing Yodeler, the people’s horse, can get his much anticipated first Emerald victory. These horses are a cut below the scorpions he faced in his first two starts of the meeting.”

Speaking of victories – if we are fortunate enough to have Yodeler’s head in front at the wire, you ALL (plus family) can come down for the Win Photo. We’ll do it old school – on the racetrack by the finish line. Customer service will be on hand to assist at the entrance gates to the winner’s circle.

But as always, we hope for a safe trip and a healthy, happy horse. See you Sunday!

Paddock RSVP for Sunday

If you’d like to RSVP for the Paddock on Sunday – please click here. The link will be available until noon on Saturday and then I’ll post the paddock list Saturday afternoon.

If you have already had the privilege of visiting the paddock, no need to RSVP.

Weather looks like it will be hot, so here’s hoping our California boy likes the sunshine!

Ana Update:

Ana’s ankle appears to be doing well and the swelling is almost non-existent. We had planned an ultrasound earlier this week with Dr. Schneider on a new ultrasound machine. However, the new machine has not yet arrived at the clinic. As of now, we will likely wait until the end of her 30 day layup and then take another ultrasound with the new machine to see where we are at in the healing.



June Financials and Yodeler to Race Sunday

June was a productive month for the Emerald Racing Club with three starts between the two horses. June Budget Actuals shows the club earned $3,075 while incurring $4,554.25 in expenses. Statement of account, training bill, and vet bills are here: June Bills The Cavalli Equine Veterinary Services is a great demonstration of the vet bill you expect to see regarding the race day medication. The bute (butazoladin) is administered as an injection the day prior to the race. And the Lasix is administered the day of the race. Most horses race on Lasix and it is indicated as an “L” in the race day program to the right of the horse’s name. If the L has a circle around it, then that indicates the horse is a “first-time Lasix” and will be running on it for the first time. yodeler page Lasix is a diuretic (makes you lose water) and is used in the treatment and prevention of EIPH (exercised induced pulmonary hemorrhage) also known as “bleeding.” When a racehorse is at full speed the capillaries in the lungs are under extreme pressure and can burst – leading to blood in the lungs and making it difficult for a horse to breath. The Lasix is believed to lower the blood pressure in the lungs and thereby reduce or prevent EIPH. Severe bleeding and damage in the lungs can also lead to an infection. Yodeler has received it each time he’s run, and you’ll also see it noted on the day that he scratched. Lasix must be administered at least four hours prior to the race, so he had already received the Lasix before scratching. For Anelina’s race on June 21, we see the same treatment program, but then also the immediate results from her injury: a bute/banamine injection administered after the race when we determined she had hurt herself. The two act as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. The tranquilizer kept her calm while the cast was applied. We don’t have her bills yet for the x-ray and ultrasound that were taken in the week after. They will be posted with July’s financials due to Dr. Stenslie’s billing cycle. Yodeler’s Next Race: Yodeler’s race is a go for Sunday, July 13. He is in race 10, post 4 in a 6 horse field. Here is the link to the overnight. The race distance is 6 1/2 furlongs. He has been “dropped in class” from an open $5,000 claiming to a $3,500 conditional claimer. The conditions are that the horses must not have won two races in 2014. He’s only won one, so he is eligible. Three of the five competitors he’s against he faced in his first race here at Emerald (and defeated); Snooper Dauper, Buddy Dave, and Rezar. So those horses are also stepping down in class to find an easier spot. We also have a jockey change from Felipe Valdez to leading jockey Leslie Mawing. Tickets will be left at the Will Call Window under Emerald Racing Club for those of you planning on bringing additional guests, so no need to email the Horsemen’s Liaison unless you are looking to make reservations in the Rainier Terrace restaurant or in the boxes. Section 15 is open seating and a reminder that Sunday is Wiener Dog Day! Leave your own Dachshund at home, but come watch the four-legged furballs race down the track. We’ll have the wiener dogs on the track after races 3, 4 and 5. Ana Update: Anelina has streptococcus, a virus caused by natural occurring bacteria. It manifest itself in the lymph nodes and has resulted in an abscess under her jaw. The abscess had not popped as of this morning, but once it does, it will drain all the bacteria out and she will recover. As long as there is no fever, there shouldn’t be a need for antibiotics and it will clear up on it’s own. ana_abcess IMPORTANT: If you visit the barn, pet all the other horses first and then pet Ana last. DO NOT touch any other horses after touching her as it is contagious and we do not want to infect any other horses in the barn. Wash your hands well after petting her. This is extremely important - if Yodeler (or any of the other horses) were to contract it as well, he will not be able to race.    

Breakfast at the Wire

Happy Fourth of July!

We thought that our new program “Breakfast at the Wire” might be of interest to Emerald Racing Club members that enjoy coming out to watch the morning workouts on the weekends.


From the Emerald Downs press release:

Breakfast at the Wire debuts Saturday, July 5 at Emerald Downs. Breakfast at the Wire offers race fans an insider’s glimpse of Thoroughbreds in training, with appearances by prominent jockeys, trainers, exercise riders, agents, gate crew and more. Patterned after similar programs such as Clocker’s Corner at Santa Anita and Del Mar, attendees get a close-up look at the racehorses and the “racetrackers” – the hard working people behind the scenes.

Hosted by Dean Mazzuca, Breakfast at the Wire is from 8 – 10 a.m. every Saturday during July and August and is located just past the finish line in front of the Trackside Deli on track level. The location offers optimum viewing of the horses’ workouts.

The program will offer a more leisurely format than the popular and structured Emerald AM programs offered once monthly.

“Breakfast at the Wire is a great way to experience the morning atmosphere at the track. No reservations are required – just show up and enjoy the culture of the racetrack,” said the program’s creator Vicki Potter.

With Mt. Rainier serving as a towering backdrop, Emerald Downs will serve breakfast priced at only $6. Breakfast features a choice of scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns or scrambled with biscuits and gravy, and includes free parking and entry through the Paddock Gate from 8-to-9 a.m.


Yodeler Race Recap and Ana Update

Full chart from Yodeler’s race is here. The chart comments say it best “3-w turn, no factor” for his last place finish (3-w means three horse paths wide from the rail). Sometimes, there’s just no explanation. Yodeler didn’t fire on Sunday. He came back from the race great, ate well and was squealing and bucking on the walker this morning indicating that he’s in good spirits. He’ll return to the track to train starting tomorrow.

Sunday’s blog regarding the claiming ladder came at an opportune time. After consulting with Sharon, we will be “dropping him in class” for his next race and looking for $3,500 claiming NW [Date]. This should find him easier competition where he can be successful. As of now, there is one in the condition book for July 13.

Ana Update

Ana has continued to walk since her race and further diagnostics were done today. This morning Ana was walked over from Sharon’s barn to the Vet Clinic by the WTBOA Sales Pavilion (if you’ve been on our morning tours, you may have stopped there). Dr. Stenslie conducted an ultrasound on her left front ankle.


Initially, after palpation, Dr. Stenslie believed he would find a blood clot at the ankle which had resulted in the swelling. He did find the blood clot, but upon a more thorough examination, he also found some damage to the branch of her superficial digital flexor tendon where it ties into the pastern below the ankle.


The area is not considered a crucial supporting structure and prognosis is good for a return to the races after time off for it to heal. We will ultrasound her again next Wednesday when another vet will be available to offer further consultation.

Ana is officially on “lay-up” for thirty days of walking. If she heals well, she will return to active training and we’ll gauge how she is at that point. As of right now, the option for treatment is time off to let the tendon heal itself.

Because she is not actively training, the training rate per day drops from $55/day to $45 per day, reduced by the exercise rider fee since she is not being ridden. It will reduce again to $40/day when the grooms stop poulticing the ankle. You’ll likely notice this change on the next round of financials.

If at any point Ana indicates that she is not sound, healthy and happy for racing, she will be retired. Her health is our first priority and as racehorse owners, the horse always comes first.

Going Up and Down the Claiming Ladder

You may have heard the term “going up the ladder” or “dropping in class”. Both these phrases are referring to a horse moving up or down in claiming price.

You think of the different claiming prices ($2,500, $5,000, $7,500, $10,000, etc) as rungs on a ladder. We can refer to Yodeler’s race today as a good example showing horses moving up and down the ladder in order to find a “rung” or price at which they are competitive.

A quick glance at the Condition Book Index page we learned about a few blogs ago and we can easily distinguish the rungs on the ladder. These may not be all the rungs, but they are the rungs available for this current edition of the Condition Book.


  • M=Maiden race
  • (WA)= Restricted to Washington bred horses
  • NW=”Non-Winners of”, followed by a number.
  • NW2 = Non-Winners of 2 races and so forth.
  • NW1{Date}=Non-Winners of a race since a certain date. 
  • ALW=Allowance race. No claiming price. 


For an example of the claiming ladder, I referred to the “open” claiming prices in the most recent condition book. “Open” refers to any claiming race without conditions. C4000NW2 translates to “$4,000 Claiming for horses are Non-Winners of 2 Races”. That is a “condition” whereas C5-4000 has no restrictions and is “open”.

  • $50,000-$40,000 (this is same level whether it is for $50K or $40K, but an owner can opt to list the horse for the lower claiming price in order to get a break in the weight allowance. But it is the same “rung”)
  • $20,000-$18,000
  • $15,000
  • $10,000-$8,000
  • $7,500
  • $5,000-$4,000

If we look at Yodeler’s Past Performances we can see that he has essentially stayed at his spot on the ladder. The $3,200 level he was claimed for in California could be equated to our $5,000 level here.

We can feel pretty confident based on his past performances that he can be competitive at the $5,000 level here and he showed us that by finishing a game third against Hip Hop City during his last out.

However, we now have to account for his competition and determine if they are moving down a rung or two to his level, or moving up. His greatest competition would likely come from horses moving down the ladder or “dropping in class” OR a horse performing extremely well at a level below “moving up in class.”

Storming Kentucky is a great example that shows a horse moving up and down the ladder.

For comparison, I’ve charted both horses Claiming Price over their last six starts to better illustrate the ladder concept.

Claiming Chart

Nothing here will predict how one will fare against the other, it just demonstrates the different paths a horse can take to get to where they are at.

So the next question is, why would you move a horse up or down the ladder?

Each claiming price runs for a different purse. The higher the claiming price, the better the purse. So if you can jump a horse up in class, you are rewarded with more purse money.

The following example is of purses for our wide open claiming races, three year olds and upwards. All of this information I found in the newest edition of the Condition Book.

Claiming Price Purse
 $50-$40,000  $       20,475
 $20-$18,000  $       14,800
$15,000  $       12,700
 $10-$8,000  $       10,500
$7,500  $         9,300
 $5-$4,000  $         7,200
$2,500  $         5,900

We reference the condition book a lot, but the truth is a lot of owners aren’t familiar with the condition book at all. It is really the realm of the trainer. However, as an educated owner, the condition book can help you better understand the earning potential for your horse as well as understand how certain races make it from condition book to actual race day.