The pheasant that could have ended my life this morning chose not to, for which I was grateful. Far away into my own thoughts, I didn’t see him preening alongside the trail until the last second – Hard Way was nearly on top of him, bowling along toward home in a huge extended trot. Too late to stop, all I could do was crouch lower to the saddle and hope he didn’t choose that second to fly off, which would have resulted in me flying too, probably straight into a stone wall. The pheasant stayed put, and Hard Way coasted past – he probably didn’t see him, either.
It all started with a f*cking flu shot. A day later, Triple Tonic started coughing. No big deal, we thought; she’s a two-year-old having a bit of a reaction. A little vitamin C, slow down for a few days and it will all be fine. But she didn’t get better. After about two weeks of intermittent coughing, in a completely unrelated incident, she decided to unhook her metal water bucket with her head, necessitating five stitches (and a change to a plastic bucket). Fine. She had to have antibiotics for this, so maybe we kill two birds with one stone and clear up the cough. One week and seven injections later, her head was perfectly healed, but she was still coughing, and the stuff coming out of her nose was not pretty. A sample was sent off to the lab, the vet was sure he had the right antibiotic and we started again. Ten days later, no change. Off to the clinic for a scope and possibly a head x-ray to make sure it wasn’t in her sinuses. Bad scope, but clean sinuses, another lab test and a third kind of antibiotic. No luck, but poor Tonic was starting to feel like a pin cushion.
Meanwhile, despite doing our best to keep her isolated and disinfect everything that came in contact with her, King next door started coughing, and Rue B down the line thought she might join in. We put all the horses on a course of a broad spectrum antibiotic to try to contain things. I have never, ever done this because I hate to compromise the immune system and contribute to the development of resistant strains of crap. But this time it seemed called for. Triple Tonic, meanwhile, will move to the country tomorrow for an old-fashioned, unpleasant but effective treatment: The “abces de fixation,” a provoked abscess in the chest cavity that draws all the nasty stuff into it and is then drained. It’s akin to leeches, and for me it is definitely a method of last resort. But pumping more chemicals into this poor filly’s system just seems the wrong way to go.
King obviously is a scratch for his debut tomorrow; we’ve given him a second dose of Iodure, an IV iodine designed to clean out the respiratory system. He will be rescoped on Thursday, when we’ll send swabs to the lab. So far, it looks like we might catch him before it’s too far gone. He’s also more advanced in his work, and might have a stronger immune system. Let’s hope. Rue B, too, seems to be fighting it off. For now, all the horses that have raced seem fine. They are tougher and older, so they might not come down with…whatever it is this is.
George, Hi Shinko and Birs are heading to Deauville tomorrow to help close down the August meeting. George is running 2,400 meters in a handicap on the fibersand, Shinko goes 1,500 meters in a claimer for amateur riders and Birs stretches out to 1,900 meters in a claimer. George probably has the best chance of the three; Shinko was truly disappointing last time out and I don’t know where we are with him. He’ll have blinkers for the first time tomorrow, so I’m hoping he just decides to bolt and get on with it. Birs will get more distance, which he needs, but I would have preferred to get him on the turf instead of the fiber. In any case, he’s the last of the runners from the Irish contingent. They will head home Wednesday after running a good four-month season here.
Our numbers so far this year are pretty good: seven wins and 47 places from 120 starts, which puts us in the money 45 percent of the time. Things will slow down a bit now that the Irish are going home, but we still have a solid stable that should keep the percentages up. Meanwhile, it’s already time to start thinking about yearling sales and prospects for next year. The Deauville August sale is behind us, but other sales with more realistic prices are ahead, including the Osarus sale at La Teste on Sept. 15. The catalog is quite good and the prices are usually affordable. Anybody out there interested in yearlings should get in touch.
Gallop France in the news
By John Gilmore
Gina Rarick doesn’t mince her words, as readers of her online blog will testify. The American journalist who became a French racehorse trainer has strong views on all aspects of the sport – from the struggle to make ends meet in Europe, the problems of being accepted in France and the admin issues at France Galop to the medication situation back in the U.S. – as John Gilmore found out in this recent question-and-answer interview. Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – August 14, 2015
By Céline Maussang
Ella Diva reste invaincue et décroche sa première Listed à Vichy. Achetée à réclamer, elle empoche le Prix des Jouvenceaux et des Jouvencelles. Equidia Live – August 2, 2015
By Kristin Odegard
Le Festival de Galop de Vichy est devenu incontournable, pour les professionnels comme pour les amateurs de courses hippiques. Cette semaine entièrement dédiée au galop a été bien préparée par Gina Rarick qui descend plusieurs chevaux, avec la nouvelle arrivée Ella Diva en attraction. Equidia Live – July 18, 2015
Carnet de piste ELLA DIVA – Gina Rarick
By Equidia – July 17, 2015
Rencontre avec Gina Rarick à Maisons-Laffitte
By Equidia – July 17, 2015
By Sonia Donadey
Après les coulisses de l’hippodrome (lire nos éditions précédentes), voici les coulisses du centre d’entraînement. L’Américaine Gina Rarick possède une écurie à Maisons-Laffitte. Courrier des Yvelines – April 13, 2015
By Lissa Oliver
American Gina Rarick, a former international horseracing journalist, has been training racehorses in Maisons-Laffitte, France, since 2002. 46 percent of her runners were in the money in 2013, and that percentage has been rising steadily for the past four years. Total earnings for the yard have already topped €750,000. Gavelhouse.com – March 1, 2014
By John Gilmore
Hard Way, an 8-year-old gelding who made a remarkable recovery from a crushed vertebrae in 2010, is continuing to amaze French racing fans.
By Eleanor Beardsley
At the famous Hippodrome de Longchamp just outside of Paris this month, crowds came to cheer and bet on the sleek thoroughbreds that opened horse racing season by galloping down the verdant turf course. NPR – April 23, 2013
By John Gilmore
As the horses galloped up the finishing straight in the 2,400-meter (11⁄2-mile) Prix de la Lomagne Handicap at Saint-Cloud on a gloomy, rain-sodden evening May 5, Hard Way cruised to the front, eventually winning as he pleased. Racegoers enthusiastically cheered his every stride to the wire and beyond. bloodhorse.com – May 15 2012.
By Mark Cramer
Film directors take note–Gina Rarick is an unusual character and in the treatment we also have a most unusual horse: Hard Way. No novelist could have conjured up a more symbolically accurate name. In August 2010, after 16 races, Hard Way endured a crushed first vertebra and was basically lucky to be alive. Rarick sent the horse to friendly pastures, gave him time off. Treatment involved only one pharmaceutical product, Tildren, for improving bone density. Thoroughbred Daily News – Thursday, May 10, 2012.
By Gina Rarick
Avant de devenir entraîneur professionnel en 2008, j’ai été journaliste pendant plus de 20 ans et je collabore toujours à différentes publications, dont le New York Times. L’année dernière, c’est avec fierté que j’ai écrit un article sur le système français de mise à la retraite des chevaux de course, conjointement mis au point par France Galop et la Ligue pour la Protection du Cheval. Ce système a fait l’admiration et a été envié par de nombreux lecteurs américains qui se désolaient de la triste fin réservée aux champions de leur côté de l’Atlantique, du fait de l’absence de tout régime de mise à la retraite. Jour du Galop – Lundi 1er Fèvrier, 2010
By John Gilmore
As the horses galloped to the turn at Chantilly racecourse, shooting past the grandeur of the Château de Chantilly and into the home stretch, a dark brown filly, easy to recognise thanks to the small diamond of white hairs on her forehead, surged to the front of the pack. To the shouts of the crowd, and urged on by her jockey, she raced past the post in first place. The French Paper – January 2010
By Mark Cramer
You will not have heard of Gina Rarick because she trains in France, and in fact is the only American trainer operating in that country. However, the handicapping portrait of this best-kept secret in the training profession can be applied universally wherever races are run. American Turf Monthly – December 2009
By Alan Shuback
She is racing’s American in Paris. Or, to be more specific, racing’s American in Maisons-Laffitte, the training center west of Paris where she maintains a string of American – and British-owned horses, the only Yankee — male or female — currently training in France. Daily Racing Form – Sunday, November 29, 2009
Le parcours de Gina Rarick est un des plus atypiques. Cette Américaine de 46 ans a commencé à monter à cheval à 30 ans, ne connaissant rien aux courses. “Je suis la seule Américaine à entraîner en France. J’ai décroché un permis d’entraîner en 2001 avant de devenir entraîneur public en septembre 2008, suite à un licenciement économique qui m’a permis de me jeter dans le grand bain.” Le Parisien – November 25, 2009
By John Gilmore
Former Turf writer Gina Rarick has only been training in France professionally for a little more than 18 months, but the American-born former International Herald Tribune editor has proven as adept with horses as she was with a pen. Thoroughbred Times – October 17, 2009
A woman in a male-dominated business is not a unique situation, but an American woman in the very closed world of French horse racing is certainly a more unusual proposition. I met with the racehorse trainer Gina Rarick who gave me an insight into both the sport and how she has managed to find her place in this business. Invisible Paris Blog – September 20, 2009
Gina Rarick has been training racing thoroughbreds in Maisons-Laffitte, France, since 2002, alongside her work as a journalist at the International Herald Tribune. In March of 2008, she decided to leave her career in journalism to devote herself to training full time.
The results have been more than solid: 46 percent of her runners are in the money this year, and that percentage has been rising steadily for the past four years. Total earnings for the yard have topped 750,000 euros.
Raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Rarick attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and began her career in journalism at the Milwaukee Journal in 1984. As turf writer for the Herald Tribune, Rarick covered major race meetings around the world, including the Dubai World Cup, Royal Ascot, the Hong Kong International Races, the Breeders’ Cup and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
She rediscovered her rural roots in Chicago, of all places, by taking weekly riding lessons at a downtown carriage-horse stable. The attraction to horses made the move with her to Paris, and she continued riding at clubs in the Paris region before discovering thoroughbreds after moving to Maisons-Laffitte in 1999. She was a latecomer to racing, riding her first race – a winner – in 2001 at the age of 38!
RATES (New starting Jan 1, 2015):
Training fees are €55 a day. That amount includes everything except shoes, veterinary and racing costs.
Discover the fun and excitement of thoroughbred horse racing in France, where big purses and low training fees combine to make this country one of the most attractive in the world for horse owners.
Why race in France?
Prize money in French racing is among the highest in the world. The winner of a mid-level race will take home between €9,000 and €15,000, compared with £1,000 to £1,500 in the U.K. In addition, French racing offers premiums to French-bred horses that add 64 percent to prize money for two- three- and four-year-olds, and 43 percent for five-year-olds and older.
Costs are comparatively low. French racing authorities subsidize travel expenses for horses, there are no entry fees for non-pattern races and jockey fees are minimal. Training fees in our yard are €55 a day excluding shoes and racing costs. That means no extra fees for things like rugs or nutritional supplements.
Another factor to consider: France does not allow any medication in a horse’s system on race day. That means lower vet bills for owners and sound, drug-free horses.
This year’s winners
Deauville – January 6, 2017
Cagnes-sur-Mer – February 1, 2017
Come racing in France –
we’ll have a bottle of Champagne on ice for you!
Visit our gallery of previous winners at Gallop France.