The Age Old Battle of Experience vs Age
We see it in almost every aspect of life, but nowhere is there more of a debate between “who’s the best” between age and experience than in sports. Whether the athletes are humans or horses, both the mind and body are being tested simultaneously and independently at the same time.
First, there is the older athlete, who is physically mature and strong, battled-tested, and has the wisdom of years to know the game, to conserve energy when necessary, to strategize, and to remain cool under pressure. This older athlete has already been through the rigors of injuries, set-backs and failures. He knows when he has an advantage on his opponent and he uses all his strengths for victory.
However, the biggest asset for the younger athlete is his fearlessness. He does not know his limits yet, he’s aggressive and he is willing to take chances. While not physically at his peak, he is still strong and can respond quickly to changes without having to think through every aspect of the game. He likely does not have the physical pains associated with time and the pure joy of the game is more fully actualized in the younger athlete.
And so, the stage is set for the equine contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Classic!
Majestic Harbor: What My Horse Brings to the Game
Our horse, Majestic Harbor, while new to the spotlight, is not new to the game. He always showed early talent, but was plagued with set-backs and injuries. During those set-backs, we have watched him mentally mature over the years and now he really knows what is going on and what is being asked of him.
Read my firsthand account about my horse, Majestic Harbor, qualifying for the Classic at the Gold Cup>>
What is especially unique for my horse, is his body is now healthy enough and strong enough to take him to the finish line. He is as strong as he’s ever been and that is giving him heretofore unknown confidence. He has always liked his job as a race horse, but now he loves it because he is feeling so good.
Majestic Harbor will have to take on other older horses like him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic from his “Win and You’re In” victory in the Gold Cup which is challenge enough, but the biggest unknown factor in the race will be the “rookies.”
Preparing for the Rookies
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes Champion California Chrome dominated his three-year-old division much like an early developing high school quarterback. California Chrome ran the grid iron amongst kids his age, but it becomes a whole different game when he moves into the big leagues. Chrome has been tested at the Classic distance, but whether this boy can raise his game against older talent is the question.
Also part of the all-star rookie line-up is Shared Belief. He is interesting because he too was that high school quarterback – he was super impressive as a two-year-old, but had to be sidelined with an injury for the Triple Crown races, what could be compared to as “his senior year.”
That time off allowed him to mature too, and he is undefeated on his return to racing later in the year. The biggest question about Shared Belief is whether he can get the distance. Much of getting the distance can be attributed to experience and knowing how to conserve energy.
Our trainer, Sean McCarthy and I had a lengthy conversation about whom we think is the bigger threat, and Sean humanized the whole debate on another point.
“Those young horses bounce back quickly too. That’s why the Triple Crown Series really has to be for 3-year-olds. I used to be able to go out every night and be ready to gallop horses at 5 a.m. Once you get older, you just can’t do that anymore. I will still be at work on time, but not in good shape till I get some coffee,“ Sean laughed.
“I have tried to space out Majestic Harbor’s races so he’s got plenty of time to recover,” Sean continued. “Our next goal is the Pacific Classic, and I will just wait and see after that. It’s possible that we stick another race in there before the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it also wouldn’t scare me to just train into the race too. He’s been running hard for us and a big unknown factor for any horse, old or young, is how much an extended campaign takes out of them. While I would not train a young horse any differently than an old horse, I would have to say that all you can really do is one race at a time.”
Regarding Majestic Harbor’s current condition, Sean added, “He handled the move to Del Mar without a problem and seems to handle the poly- track really well. This cooler weather has really been a huge benefit too. Just like us, when it’s cooler, it just makes you feel good and it doesn’t sap the energy out of you. He seems to love the change of scenery too, so all systems are on go as long as I have a happy, healthy horse.”
See footage of Majestic Harbor training at Del Mar below:
See Majestic Harbor Race in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic LIVE!
My Majestic Harbor has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and it is without a doubt a dream come true! Nothing would make the experience even more special than if you celebrated his run LIVE at the 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships with us!
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