This first instalment of top thoroughbred trainer Reade Baker’s “Training to Win” in Canadian Thoroughbred shares his insights on techniques and strategies for bring a horse back to racing fitness after a winter off. He looks at two groups of horses: those who raced in the fall of the previous year, and those who haven’t raced since the summer, stressing the need for patience when dealing with the latter group or horses who have never raced.
Baker’s 50-day plan designed to have a horse race-ready for a 5-furlong test begins with getting limbered up and ready to begin building fitness, followed by jogging either in the shedrow on the track. Once they begin galloping he prefers that it is done on a busy racetrack to take advantage of the nervous tension caused by the other horses and the resulting eagerness that will make the gallops much more beneficial. Short breezes are interspersed with longer gallops, and gate workouts will depend on the experience of the horse and the length of its season debut.