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Old 01-27-2010, 07:04 PM   #1
only11
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Horses changing leads..

Do horses only change leads in the stretch??Can they change leads around turns?Do they do it on there own?

And how important is it when it comes to capping the races/ how come i never see a trip note stating " the horse refuse to change leads"
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by only11
Do horses only change leads in the stretch??Can they change leads around turns?Do they do it on there own?

And how important is it when it comes to capping the races/ how come i never see a trip note stating " the horse refuse to change leads"

Horses should run the straightaways on the right lead and the turn on the left. They should swap leads as they start the turn and end it. It does require some coordination to do it and some horses find it hard to do when they are getting fatigued by the top of the stretch.
I follow NY and at Belmont you see alot of horses turning for home on the "wrong" (outside) lead. They can and do switch on the turn but at their peril. They are less balanced that way. It seems to happen alot at Belmont because the turn time is longer than at most tracks.
Horses can change leads on their own (they do it when turned out in a pasture, even as foals) but in a track setting they learn to do it when the rider shifts his/her weight sometimes accompanied by a slap on the shoulder and a tug on the rein. Sometimes they don't swap, even when asked and then you'll see the rider stop shuffling about and just keep riding, figuring that he'll swap eventually. Usually if they don't change leads it's because they are getting fatiqued and can't seem to figure out what to do with their legs.
Changing is important because it "refreshes" the horse, shifting the burden of pushing off to a different set of muscles. The human analogy that best fits is this: You are walking carrying a heavy bag. You carry it in the right hand because you are right handed. You feel fatigued and shift it to your left and get a (short but sweet) burst of energy because you are no longer carrying the burden with tired muscles.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:26 PM   #3
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Horses usually race on one lead on the turn, and a different lead on the straightaways. If you watch a replay of a route race, horses will switch leads on the backstretch and then switch leads into the turn and then switch back in the stretch. Some horses don't know how to switch and some horses just don't switch because of heredity and the way their legs are built. There are very few horses in today's game that never switch leads.

I would say that this is not something to really worry about as most horses do switch leads when they are supposed to.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by only11
Do horses only change leads in the stretch??Can they change leads around turns?Do they do it on there own?

And how important is it when it comes to capping the races/ how come i never see a trip note stating " the horse refuse to change leads"

They switch their leads when they get tired on the front lead. Like we do with our arms when carrying something heavy.

Last edited by tzipi; 01-27-2010 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:50 PM   #5
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Most, but not all horses do it. The chartmaker doesn't every often because they don't what to look for. Not that it matters much, because if horse doesn't switch leads once it never does. There used be some old time horsemen who could sometimes figure out away to get them to do it. The only time I would worry about it is when a horse changes trainers. Maybe the new one has a trick up his sleeve, but probably not.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:27 PM   #6
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To Linny,

Thank you for your explanation. I've always heard about changing leads but didn't understand what was involved.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:38 PM   #7
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If you want to see an outstanding slow mo of a horse changing leads, check out the final stretch run scene from the movie Seabiscuit at the movie's end. You can see the lead change very clearly.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by only11
And how important is it when it comes to capping the races/ how come i never see a trip note stating " the horse refuse to change leads"
For the charts, there are usually 2 people, one with their binoculars focusing on the order of the horses and their distance apart as they reach particular poles/points of call, and the other is quickly writing those down as the first caller tells them outloud as the race unfolds. Anything else they happen to see and note is a helpful bonus, secondary to that main purpose. Complicating things is that the caller is looking down almost straight down the stretch from the press box area or near the top of the granstand, and trying to judge distances between horses coming at him at a nearly-straight line, so quite hard to get the distance right - which probably takes more focus to make a decent judgement call, so the cadence of the legs, let alone watching a couple-three strides at the leg level is likely not an option for them, especially with fields of any decent size.

On the other hand, others (handicappers and/or private note makers) are free to watch the race without concern about the fractional call estimates, and have the luxury of reviewing the replays mulitple times to be satisfied in picking up what notes they care to make, whereas the chart callers have to get the photo finish picture and margins, the results & prices, and all that chart information, updated online within the 20 minute standard plus get ready for the next race.

Last edited by Steve 'StatMan'; 01-28-2010 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 01-28-2010, 12:22 AM   #9
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Changing leads is not a requirement for winning, but it helps IMO. Some horses never change leads and still win though.

Wasnt Affirmed or Alydar a non changer? May not be one of them, but I'm sure it was a famous horse (or two). Someone out there knows.

I pay attention to first time starters who run well but come up a little short while failing to change leads. If they do so next time that may be all they need to get up.

My question on the subject is this:
Do trainers worry about and try to correct horses who dont switch? I see jocks trying to get horses to switch all the time in the lane. Some are 'aided' by getting into trouble or bumping and they switch leads as a result. I have seen horse hanging and then a rival bumps them, forcing a lead change, and then they go on to win.
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:16 AM   #10
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Alydar was the horse that oftened failed to change leads in the stretch.

One thing not brought up is that failing to switch leads or, perhaps even more so, switching back to the left lead in the stretch is often a sign of unsoundness.

In addition, a lot of acute injuries (catastrophic or otherwise) occur at the time of a lead change.

It is not necessarily always an issue of greeness.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhantomOnTour
Changing leads is not a requirement for winning, but it helps IMO. Some horses never change leads and still win though.

Wasnt Affirmed or Alydar a non changer? May not be one of them, but I'm sure it was a famous horse (or two). Someone out there knows.

I pay attention to first time starters who run well but come up a little short while failing to change leads. If they do so next time that may be all they need to get up.

My question on the subject is this:
Do trainers worry about and try to correct horses who dont switch? I see jocks trying to get horses to switch all the time in the lane. Some are 'aided' by getting into trouble or bumping and they switch leads as a result. I have seen horse hanging and then a rival bumps them, forcing a lead change, and then they go on to win.

Alydar didn't switch and he seemed to pass that onto his offspring. When Strike The Gold (By Alydar) won the Derby, he didn't switch leads until very late in the stretch.
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Old 01-28-2010, 04:01 PM   #12
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WOW...I was gonna jump in here...but I see I don't need to...great replies for only11
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #13
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You'll see it now that you know what to look for. It's subtle, but you'll see a light stutter step right at the lead change, followed by acceleration. Horses get challenged in the strech, and then draw off, usually right after the lead change. Same with closers, they move on even terms and then change leads and blow right by.

There are some very astute announcers who will say when a horse is on the wrong lead or refuses to switch in the stretch.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:10 PM   #14
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It is effectively a "skip" step when the horse swaps. His forelegs appear to be striding in a "right-LEFT pattern and then switch to "LEFT-right."
I don't like to see alot of lead changes in the stretch. It means the horse is very fatigued or feeling some discomfort that he's trying to ease.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhantomOnTour
My question on the subject is this:
Do trainers worry about and try to correct horses who dont switch? I see jocks trying to get horses to switch all the time in the lane. Some are 'aided' by getting into trouble or bumping and they switch leads as a result. I have seen horse hanging and then a rival bumps them, forcing a lead change, and then they go on to win.

Sometimes when a horse who is adept at changing leads all of a sudden won't change them during a race or training, a trainer will look for something that might be bothering the horse physically...suspensory or something. Young horses who run green, yes they will work with the horse during the mornings to get him to change leads.
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