NTRA Teleconference Focuses on Equine Health, Final Derby Preps

In an NTRA Road to the Triple Crown teleconference April 17, equine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage discussed equine health and safety issues while trainers Phil Sims, Dick Small, and Mark Shuman talked about their plans for the upcoming Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) and Federico Tesio (gr. III) Stakes on Saturday.

Bramlage, who will be serving as the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ On Call spokesperson for the 2007 Triple Crown, said he believes the breakdown of 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro served to put the national spotlight on equine health after the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), but he stressed the fact that the AAEP’s On Call program – designed to deliver accurate veterinary information through trained veterinarians who respond to crisis situations with answers about the health of the equine athlete – has been operating successfully for 17 years.

“The fact that people don’t realize our veterinarians report is a compliment to the success of the program,” said Bramlage. “Our job is to add a note of calm to the situation and give people layman’s statistics as to what the injuries were, the horse’s chances at recovery, etc. It’s a tribute to the fact that the program is successful that it becomes sort of a non-episode after we do our job and explain what happened to everybody.”

Bramlage also touched briefly on the advances that continue to be made in the field of veterinary science as it relates to Thoroughbred race horses.

“There have been notable advancements that Barbaro shone the light on,” he said. “Nothing they did to him at New Bolton Center was experimental, it’s just that the severity of the injury required bringing to bear many state-of-the-art situations, from pain management to anesthesia and podiatry, all things that have come of age in the last few years. Fortunately [those techniques] were available for Barbaro, unfortunately they all worked except in the area of laminitis, which is a tough one to cure. I hope someday, maybe 20-30 years in the future, treating that kind of injury will be routine.”

On Call veterinarians will be present at Keeneland during the Lexington, when WEBN Stakes winner Joe Got Even looks to launch a late bid at a place in the field of the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Phil Sims said the 3-year-old son of Stephen Got Evenshould improve off his third place finish in the March 24 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II).

“He’s never been off the board in six Polytrack starts,” Sims said. “He likes Polytrack, he trains on it since we’re based at Keeneland, and I think he prefers this surface over the surface at Turfway Park. I thought this race would be a little easier than the  Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I); this colt likes to come from off the pace so I’d really prefer to see some speed in the race. If he runs big on Saturday we’ll still very seriously consider running in the Derby.”

Also on Saturday, trainers Dick Small and Mark Shuman will send out rivals Etude and Xchanger, respectively, in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico. Often used as a launching board for Preakness  contenders, the Federico Tesio will serve as a test for Etude, who is coming off three consecutive wins and has never been worse than second in six lifetime starts.

“The race will be a logical progression,” Small said, “A little longer, a little more difficult… but so far with what the horse has done, he should be ready for it. He’s really a nice mover, he’s a beautiful big horse.”

Xchanger, meanwhile, will attempt to rebound from his tough fourth place finish behind Curlin in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III).

“Etude was the main reason I was going to go to Lexington [instead of running at Pimlico],” Mark Shuman said. “I’d rather not run against him but so be it, we should be the second choice, and if I have to finish a good second to a nice horse I can’t complain.”

The Lexington and the Federico Tesio  will be broadcast on ESPN2 as part of the NTRA’s Road to the Triple Crown coverage April 21 beginning at 6 p.m. (EST).