All the time, trainers map out a schedule for a horse. Sometimes it works out. Other times it doesn't. And when it does work out, there is always one very important thing at work.
"The best horse doesn't always win, but racing luck always does," said Dennis Manning, who will send out Valid Video Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). "Especially in the Sprint, you have to have luck."
Valid Video has certainly had his share of racing luck, but there is obviously plenty of talent inside the 3-year-old Valid Wager gelding.
"He's unbeaten at six furlongs (three for three) and unbeaten at seven furlongs (two for two)," Manning pointed out.
As Manning spoke, Valid Video was standing comfortably in his stall. The 3-year-old Valid Wager gelding is as laid back a horse as anyone will ever see.
"You could take him in your living room to watch television," Manning joked.
"He looks lackadaisical like this all the time...except when you ask him to run. He will look like this in the paddock, in the post parade, and in the gate. But when you ask him to run..."
With his pedigree and build, Manning always thought Valid Video would be a sprinter. But you never know until you put them to the test. A graded stakes winner at two, Manning knew when he tried Valid Video around two turns at Gulfstream in early April that sprinting was his game.
Manning planned a route to Santa Anita, and Valid Video obviously liked the script. He won the Carry Back (gr. III) at Calder on July 12, going the six furlongs in a swift 1:10 while wide, and then came back to take the seven-furlong King's Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga.
"After he won at Calder, they wanted him for the Amsterdam (gr. II)," Manning said. "But I wanted to run him in the King's Bishop."
After the Aug. 23 King's Bishop, Manning stuck to the plan of not running Valid Video again until the Breeders' Cup. "This horse gives you 150% every time. I thought it would be good to give him time off after a couple of tough races."
Valid Video was selected at the 2000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's October sale as a foal by owner Mac Fehsenfeld's farm manager, Paul Tinkle. Purchased for $29,000, he was gelding because of a problem with one testicle.
"I've had a great year with Valid Video and Grand Hombre, and both are geldings, Manning said. "I remember years ago Charlie Whittingham saying, 'If we had gelded them all, we would have only made one mistake -- Sunday Silence.' "
Manning, 56, spends the winters in Ocala preparing young horses. He operates the Classic Mile Training Center there and keeps about 40 horses at the track. He is based in New Jersey.
When Valid Video won the King's Bishop, it marked Manning's first grade I victory. He hopes for No. 2 on Saturday.