Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carolina Fuego Wins At Aqueduct

Most of what I write here focusses on the big picture in racing -- how Magna, Churchill or NYRA are doing, what's happening at the sales, what the economics of various niches in the racing industry are like.  But every once in a while it's fun to just celebrate being part of this great game.  Today was definitely one of those days.

My partnership operation, Castle Village Farm, had been pretty quiet over the winter. We'd retired a couple of horses, sent our better runners off for winter vacations, and had a couple of babies getting ready for their debuts.  And the there was Carolina Fuego.  We'd claimed her as a three-year-old back in June of 2007, and in 17 sytarts before today, she'd been in the money eight times, including a good second in the 2007 Delaware Certified Distaff Stakes. But she hadn't won for us, and the partners were, understandably, getting restless. In fact, back last summer, when her performance tailed off, we'd decided she needed a rest after two straight years at the race track, and gave her a couple of months of R&R at an equestrian facility on Long Island, just for a change of pace.

We brought her back to the races last month, and, despite being left flat-footed at the start, she made a nice run through the stretch to get third.  Today, we entered her back in a claimer for horses that hadn't won in six months -- in most cases, they hadn't won in a lot longer than that -- and she came through for us.

Sent off by the public at Aqueduct at an overlaid 11-1, Carolina bided her time toward the back of the eight-horse field, moved up into the turn, and pushed through to the lead in the stretch.  She then held off a late challenge and prevailed by almost a length.

Lots of high-fives in the box area, where a dozen of us were watching. Lots of smiles in the winners circle, and lots of win photos for the two dozen other partners who couldn't find a good enough excuse to get out of work and come to the track today.  And lots of appreciation for Leah Gyarmati's training and Sheldon Russell's very smart ride.

Sure, the first at Aqueduct on a winter Wednesday isn't the Kentucky Derby, or even the Empire Classic.  But, if you're in this game, there's nothing better than a win.

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