Friday, January 11, 2013

Wire to Wire

Rhoda truly loves It’s Truly Ahvee. So, even though his race was a $20,000 claiming race, it was her baby’s race.

He looked great in the Paddock, by far the best looking horse in the race. Then, as Rhoda said, “look how nicely he went into the gate!” Then the bell rang and the gate opened. Cornelio Velasquez, who already had two winners (and one breakdown!) earlier on the race card, got him out quickly from the 6-hole. His first steps were a little erratic – out, then in – but Cornelio got him on track, crossed over the horses to his inside and brought him to the head of the pack. We were excited, but we’ve seen him go to the front before and then empty out and fade.

John Imbriale, the track announcer yesterday, pronounced Ahvee as Ahvay (I guess like Renee), but we couldn’t hear him anyway. We just stood and watched It’s Truly Ahvee on the lead and waited with bated breath. Would he fold? Would another horse come up and pass him?

They come around the stretch turn and he continues to lead. As they head into the stretch, he’s still on top. As they near the 1/8th pole, he clears the others by 3 lengths… but by the 1/16th pole, the number 5 is coming on the outside. Cornelio finally uses the crop for the first time. The 5 horse closes the gap a little… but he cannot overtake It’s Truly Ahvee. Cornelio and It’s Truly Ahvee win by 2 lengths. I was sorry that one of my partners got delayed by road problems but happy to be in the Winner’s Circle… especially happy that Rhoda is in the Winner’s Circle with her beautiful baby! YAY!

It may not have been an important race but this 5-yr. old horse has been through a lot. He had two tendon tears, surgery, bled through Lasix and has only run 7 races in his career… 2 third place finishes as a 2-yr. old and, now, 2 wins in his last 3.  He’s beautiful to look at and has a lot of heart. Congrats to It’s Truly Ahvee… and his “mom!”



Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I apologize for not getting this missive to you right after Awakino Cat’s race on Thursday. We were excited to have 12 friends join us for lunch at Christine Lee’s at Gulfstream, including Don’s wife and parents. So, I really wanted a Winner’s Circle photograph… even more than usual. It would be a perfect ending.

After the third race, we met Awakino, Ass’t Trainer, Samantha and Hall-of-Fame rider, John Velazquez in the Paddock area. It was good to see them both… reminds me of Saratoga.

As Johnny was riding out to the track, I said to him, “Don’t let Awakino fall back!” He said, he’d been so instructed already. So, when the starting gate opened, I was excited to see Awakino Cat among the leaders in third place. However, it didn’t take long to see him falling back, staying ahead of just one runner. To me this meant the short five furlong race was effectively over. When they came around the stretch turn, Awakino was guided wide around slowing competition. He closed to within 3 lengths of the winner in third place. Johnny said that in the early part of the race, Awakino couldn’t keep up. You always wonder if it’s the horse or the jockey. Well, it’s hard to question Johnny’s ability. So, we’ll just chalk it up to a good race that might have been an excellent race. If Don placed a bet in heaven, I know he would have won. He liked making “show” bets. I was happy that his family was there. Wish we could have had that storybook ending.

Tomorrow, we go see Rhoda’s favorite horse currently in training, It’s Truly Ahvee. You may remember him as being almost named, “Stuck with You,” since it turned out that way when no one wanted to be involved. He is a beautiful specimen. He came back from a long layoff due to a serious tendon issue to eventually win a maiden race. Now, he’ll have to do as well as when he ran in that race to have a chance to win this 6 furlong $20,000 claiming race. We’ll be rooting him on with my colleagues and spouses. Then, we’ll either drink to victory or, more likely, leave a donation at the Resorts World casino!