The first schooling races for 2-year-old Quarter Horses took place Friday, February 3 at Louisiana Downs, and another round is set for Friday, February 8 at Remington Park.
What is the purpose of these 220 to 250 yard races? For a young racehorse, the experience of entering a steel enclosure and running in close company with other horses can be intimidating. Most horses need a fair amount of schooling in order to master how to load and, most importantly, how to break from the gate.
Schooling races are invaluable in preparing horses for the race day experience. Horsemen get key insights from the warm-up to the load to the break, and of course, the manner in which they finish. They can note whether the rider is vigorously encouraging the horse to run or just letting the horse run on his own. Trainers will be observing if a horse maintains a straight line or zig-zags throughout. Not all horses will master the process at first asking, but if you observe a horse that loads calmly and breaks alertly, tab him for an upcoming trial race.
However, don’t dismiss a horse from consideration based on an unruly schooling race showing. Additional gate work in the morning can be added to their training schedule to ensure improvement prior to their racing debut.
Both Louisiana Downs and Remington Park will post replays of these training races online, and it’s certainly worth the time and effort to use those replays as part of your handicapping process.
Louisiana Downs hosts the first “official” futurity of the year on March 18 when they run the final of the Mardi Gras Futurity. Trials will be run on Saturday, February 25.
Remington Park’s first training races will take place on February 8, starting at 11 a.m. (CST). The 250-yard schooling races can be viewed on www.remingtonpark.com. The 2017 American Quarter Horse Season at Remington Park will begin on March 10 and end on June 3. Several futurities are part of the Oklahoma City racetrack, including the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity on the final weekend
Clearly, schooling races offer tremendous value on many levels. They are advantageous for the horse, his connections and handicappers as well!