Huge Longshot ($105.20) Ky Derby Winner Trained in High Altitude
If you're a racing fan or a fitness guru, you should find this interesting. The upset winner of the Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird, won by 6 3/4 lengths, the largest winning margin in 60 years.
I dug this up. This could possibly explain how much more fit Mine That Bird might have been than the rest of the field. Much of this below makes sense to a novice like me.
Mine That Bird did his pre-race training at Sunland Park, NM which has an altitude of 3730 ft.
High-altitude Horse Training
"Breathtaking Performance" at the 3,000 Foot Elevation
Horses training at high altitudes show a marked increase in stamina compared with horses that do not. High-altitude training enhances athletic performance & health. Period!
At sea level, air contains 20.9 percent oxygen but at 7,100 meters, oxygen content is reduced to only 8 percent. This reduced level of oxygen stimulates the physiological changes that lead directly to an increased oxygen-carrying and utilization capacity.
This in turn leads to increased energy and higher levels of physical and mental exertion for longer periods.
The Mexico Olympics of 1968 forced the professional sporting world to acknowledge the advantages conferred by altitude training. Convened at 2,240m above sea level, athletes born in countries of high altitude dominated the Games. Records were slashed with seemingly simplistic ease.
Not long after, the same benefits came to the attention of the horse racing industry when in 1971, an outsider, Canonero II won the Kentucky Derby with ease. The colt was prepped in the high altitude of Venezuela before coming to the Derby.
Pursuing these benefits, athletes first incorporated living at high altitude for extended periods as part of their training programs. When it became apparent that training at high altitude forced them to decrease the intensity of training due to accelerated fatigue, the live high - train low model of altitude training was introduced. This achieved the desired increase in oxygen carrying capacity, without sacrificing the need for continued, high intensity training.
For equine athletes the advantages are obvious: increased speed, endurance, stamina, and improved recovery. The overall benefits of high-altitude training are:
Improved uptake, delivery & utilization of oxygen
Improved stamina & endurance
Reduced recovery time
Reduced resting & exercising heart rate
Greater breathing control during high intensity activity
Reduced fatigue & build up of lactic acid
Effective pre-acclimatization to high altitude competition
Increased energy levels and a significant increase in oxygen uptake
Improved performance at higher altitudes