NUR­TURE OVER NA­TURE: TRAIN­ING A WIN­NER

EQUUS - - Special Report -

A ma­jor point that may be gleaned from the above dis­cus­sion is that all of the races com­pos­ing the 2015 Triple Crown were es­sen­tially “clone wars,” races con­tested by very closely re­lated horses. Ge­net­ics, there­fore, can­not lie at the heart of Amer­i­can Pharoah’s vic­tory. It is not “na­ture” but “nur­ture”---skill de­vel­op­ment, ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing and con­di­tion­ing, and the more sub­tle fac­tor of the horse be­ing “OK with life” that, it seems to me, are the el­e­ments that made all the dif­fer­ence.

Hav­ing looked at his pedi­gree, we can also an­a­lyze Amer­i­can Pharoah on a num­ber of other lev­els, be­gin­ning with con­for­ma­tion. Body build is more heav­ily de­ter­mined by ge­net­ics than by up­bring­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the case of ex­pen­sive live­stock such as this horse, who re­ceived the best vet­eri­nary at­ten­tion, feed­ing reg­i­men and man­age­ment prac­tices that mod­ern science can de­vise.

Un­for­tu­nately, I can­not present a full con­for­ma­tion anal­y­sis of Amer­i­can Pharoah be­cause, like ev­ery other 3-year-old horse on planet Earth, he is still three years from phys­i­cal ma­tu­rity. The latest avail­able con­for­ma­tion photo shows him as a long year­ling, which is the gawki­est and least “har­mo­nious­look­ing” phase of any horse’s life. What can be said is that at that stage Amer­i­can Pharoah shows big, mus­cu­lar hindquar­ters, a well-cou­pled and fairly strong back, a deep chest and a some­what short neck. The knees and hocks are well-formed and broad, though not let down as well as in Sec­re­tar­iat (but bet­ter, it must be noted, than in most other Triple Crown win­ners; see pages 72 to 74).

The same points may be ob­served in wean­ling photos of the two horses: Sec­re­tar­iat has much the pret­tier neck, an even stronger back, longer fore­arms, and cannon bones that ar­tic­u­late bet­ter at the knees. As a baby, how­ever,

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