Cape Tycoon won his race last Thursday in Deauville, but the victory was bittersweet because that race will be his last. As I’ve noted here before, his knees were always iffy, and he came home lame on the right side. He was extremely courageous and won easy, and Greg Benoist walked him off the track babbling on about how fast he was and how much you could do with him, which made things all the more difficult. He cooled out fine, but after we left the vet box for the drug test (which took nearly an hour; Tyke has a thing about peeing under pressure and they finally took blood, as they had to after he won in Lyon) he was slightly favoring it. By the time we left for home about 20 minutes later, he was starting to show lameness and by the time he walked off the truck he was a sore kid. I put him on bute to keep him comfortable and we took x-rays on Saturday, which offered a mixed picture. There was no major fracture, which we had feared, but the limited about of cartilage he had cushioning the joint had all but disappeared on one side, leaving the bone to start fragmenting. He is gradually getting more comfortable, and he will continue on bute for two more days before we’ll have to stop because of other risks. He does not seem to be in distress, is eating his hay and can lay down and get up, all good things. This leaves the prognosis for him to be a riding horse somewhat limited, so we will look for suitable retirement, I think. He is a lovely big horse with a great personality, and that helps in finding a good home for him. Tyke posed more than a few ethical questions for me as a trainer. I knew he had bad knees and that they were getting progressively worse, and I also knew there was a good risk that race would be his last. But I also knew he was dead fit to go and he certainly felt like he wanted to give it a last shot. I rode him on Wednesday, the day before the race; we were passed by a canter on the straight track and I had all I could do to hold him back. I decided that maybe he was like Brett Farvre, the U.S. football quarterback who kept retiring because his body is in pieces but kept coming back and winning. I think maybe I was right. He won the race, which is what I had prepared him to do, and despite his injury, he isn’t looking too sorry for himself just now.
We also took Hard Way and Email Exit to Deauville. I thought Hard Way should win, but he finished only sixth, the first time out of the money in five starts. There was no pace in the race and he got stuck trying to move on the rail in the stretch, which seems to be totally dead and no winners were coming from there. That said, he didn’t pull for the first time and didn’t show signs of trying to gain much speed in the stretch, so I think he’s tired and now definitely needs his break. I have taken him out of training, changed his feed and am treating him like a hack, which seems to suit him. He will stay in the yard for the winter; maybe I’ll change my mind and send him out for two weeks or so at some point, but not more. He likes his double rugs, his prime place in the barn, his trail rides and his Guinness, so there’s no reason to change that.
Poor Email Exit got one of the worst rides I’ve ever seen. He was entered in a race reserved for jockeys that hadn’t won 15 races this year (keep in mind this IS December…) and let me tell you, there’s a reason why some of these guys haven’t made it. An agent found me a guy called Aurelien Malenfant, who should change his name to Malmonte. My first warning signal was when I picked up the saddle and found out he was not a kid, but a grown-up of about 35. If a kid doesn’t win 15 races, it might be because he’s just getting started. But it makes me nervous to see adult still hacking away. I explained to Aurelien that the horse had never run more than 1,200 meters in England, but that he seemed to want more distance in the way he was working at home and had condition. I told him to let him get out of the gate, find a spot behind other horses, do your work in the stretch and see what happens. When the gate opened, this guy gunned him forward like the fires of hell were behind him (don’t forget, he had been a 1,200 meter horse – this would be the very last thing you should do). Not surprisingly, he quickly found himself in front. Then he seemed to remember that this is not where he was supposed to be. So he hooked the horse back so brutally that I think the poor colt thought it must have been a false start. Email quickly dropped back to the back third of the pack of 16. Then the jockey panicked about being too far back and proceeded to start riding the horse again ENTERING THE FINAL TURN. As soon as they got out of the turn, Aurelien dropped his hands and gave up. He pulled the horse up not more than a stride after the wire, then proceeded to babble on about how the colt was afraid of other horses and maybe I might want to try blinkers. I said thank you, now get off. I was stunned, and so was the horse. I have never seen a look of more abject confusion on a horse’s face. Email walked back to the showers with a “what the hell just happened to me out there?” look. I had planned to run him just once and then send him off for gelding, but he has come back fine and I will probably look for one more race because I hate to send him away with such a bad lesson.
Next up in Deauville should be Derringbay, who is working gangbusters, Turfani and hopefully Versake and Belle if we can get them in.