Greetings Race Fans,
“As the filly surged forward to hold off the challenger from behind, the jockey noticed she started making a funny noise, like she was choking, then she ‘ran out of steam.’ She dropped from first place to fourth place in two strides.”
The above description is typical of a horse which has displaced her soft palate during a race. Right when the horse needs a last burst of energy, it appears as if someone turned off a switch. Horses with dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP) characteristically make a “choking” noise as they slow down from the resulting partial airway obstruction, hence the term “choking down” to describe them. This is exactly what happened to our young filly, Mary Jeans Wildcat, on August 19 at Arlington Park.
In her debut on July 29 MJW was reluctant to load, then made a closing run in a “dead heat” photo for fourth. The opposite was true in her second start. Mary Jeans Wildcat loaded comfortably and broke with the leaders as jockey Carlos Montalvo attempted to find out how she would respond on the lead. Young MJ threw caution to the wind and battled bravely for the lead only a head behind in 2nd after a half mile. She remained a serious threat when #9 Bridgie the Bull and #12 Euroboss turned for home and MJ showing her “class.” With Montalvo giving strong encouragement MJ showed more “try” than ever before. Just when fans were locked in for a classic stretch run, MJ began “choking down” as the favorite, #4 Brisson, came storming from 7th to reach our filly’s right shoulder. Because of the stress of the moment, and an all out effort, MJ displaced. Our Wildcat could no longer get ample oxygen and sputtered to 6th place 8 3/4 lengths behind Euroboss and 7 1/2 behind Brisson.
Concerned when Carlos told us he heard a noise from MJ in the lane, we rushed to the backside to check on our filly. Trainer Ed Essenpreis had already ordered an endoscopy to determine if MJ bled or displaced. Race friends Peggy Sheehy and Tracy Rouch joined Maureen and I to gratefully discover that MJ was not in distress. Dr. Peterson inserted a flexible tube through her nostril, with a light and camera attached to it, so the upper airway and associated structures could be examined. We soon learned that our filly had not bled but suffered a soft palate displacement.
After much discussion we have decided to take a conservative approach and initially avoid surgery. MJ will now train and race with a tongue-tie and/or a figure-eight noseband. Additionally, she may switch to a bit that aids in holding the tongue down and in place. About 60% of the horses seem to respond to conservative and/or minimally invasive surgical approaches. This is a relatively common occurrence in race horses and not career ending. We will experiment with our young warrior to determine the best course of action. We did discover that Mary Jean has considerable heart and ability…and she relishes Peggy and Tracy’s peppermints!
Blue Grass of Kentucky:
Our well traveled and versatile filly, Cocoa Bandita, will attempt to run on grass for the first time. Cocoa is entered in Race #1 on Friday, August 26, at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky. The race is for fillies and mares three years old and above, non winners of three, going five and one half furlongs, on turf. The purse is $11,600 and the claiming price is $7,500. Post time is 12:50 pm (CST).
Trainer Dawn Martin has secured top notch, and multiple graded stakes winning jockey, James Graham for the mount. Cocoa will depart from the #5 post at (6/1) morning line odds. #2 Aftermarketspoiler is the (3/1) morning line favorite in the eight horse field.
It will be interesting to see how well Cocoa takes to the grass. She has a turf pedigree from her dam, Royal Bandita, who was a Roberto line mare. We know that CB has natural speed but it will be a challenge to keep up with proven sprinters in this short eye blinker. It is a quick (2 1/2 hour) drive to Henderson, Kentucky, just across the state line from Evansville, Indiana. You are welcome to join a caravan of Cocoa supporters, at the friendly country confines of Ellis Park… where the grass is blue and Cocoa is gold. Chocolate for everyone in Cocoa’s winner circle!