Colt has winning feeling

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

In sports, inexperience brings chance with it to the area of play.

Toss inexperience into horse racing and picking winners blindfolded could prove to be just as successful doing it with all the available information at your fingertips.

Such is the life of trainers when it comes to teaching two-year-old horses how to speed around the track.

In tonight's seventh race at Assiniboia Downs, the local trainers will once again test the two-year-olds they have been working against each other recently.

The favourite for tonight's two- year-old allowance race is trainer Aaron Sayler's Mikayla's Baby.

"He's a two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt," Sayler said of the horse he bought last October.

"He's been running good. I've started him twice and he's won two.

"He's won two sprinting, so we're hoping he will stretch out to the seven and a half (furlongs), but time will tell."

But Sayler is quick to give credit to the half a dozen other horses in the field.

"There are six other two-year-olds that are going to take a shot at him (tonight)," said Sayler.

Although it is early in his racing career, Mikayla's Baby already has that winning feeling flowing through his veins.

"He's won both by over five lengths," Sayler said of his horse's victories. "You just hope they get better. Some get better the older they get, some get worse. It's a hard way to tell, but the way this colt runs and the riders that have been on him, they like him. He can sit right off (the leader) or he can go to the front and just lay there."

Being in Winnipeg and at Assiniboia Downs, Mikayla's Baby is holding a little higher company than if he was racing at a more prestigious track in the United States.

"If he goes to New York or Kentucky, you have to place him differently," Sayler explained. "Just because they are allowance and stake horses here, doesn't mean they are going to be allowance and stake horses there. We all pray and wish to God they are, but it just don't happen.

"Then there's the odd horse that comes out of here that go to bigger tracks and win stakes. You don't know till you really try them."

REALLY WANTS TO TRY

According to Sayler, Mikayla's Baby really, really wants to try.

"He watches other horses go out (to run) and he's bucking and playing in the stalls," Sayler said. "He wants to go out and play, so that's a good sign. He's not leaning back in the stalls with his head down, tired looking. He acts like he's wanting to run again. That always makes a trainer happy."

The biggest unknown about the horse right now is if he can go the distance after two sprint-style wins.

"We get to test him out going seven and a half (furlongs)," Sayler said.

The two-year-old season really picks up at the Downs during the later part of August and the final month of racing here in September. It's a time when trainers get a good look at their crop of next year's three-year-olds, but the behind the scenes work has been going on all season.

"With two-year-olds, you're training them all summer," said Sayler. "I've started off with seven heads of babies and I've only run four. The other three I turned out for the year. They were just too big for their body. They're all like 11-year-old kids with size-12 feet, they just don't know how to use them yet. They need time to grow into it.

"I think they will be decent horses for next year, quality to hopefully being stake horse. The key is always hoping and dreaming you have that stake horse."

It's also the time for upsets, as some horses need a few races to learn how the whole racing thing works.

"Some horses it takes two or three times to figure it out and the next horse, they figure it out from Day 1," said Sayler.

But these young horses still need an off-season to develop.

"Anytime you run a two-year-old horse there's a chance of hurting them because their bones aren't full developed yet, they're not full hardened. By the time they are three, they are a lot stronger horse," Sayler said.

"If he (Mikayla's Baby) wins this, we'll look at running him the Winnipeg Futurity. If I run him in the Winnipeg Futurity, that's it for the year. That's four starts and plenty of races for a two-year-old. I'll just turn him out, let him be a horse and bring him back here next year.

"Sometimes if you keep running and running them, they break down or hurt themselves and I don't want that."


Photos