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THE MAKING OF A LONGSHOT

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 3/17/2010 4:37:40 PM

The movie Let It Ride came out the same year Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby, 1989, and one of the key moments of the film came when star Richard Dryfuss, as cab driver Jay Trotter, polls the fans in the grandstand for his final longshot bet and then goes the opposite way for the windfall.

First though a word must go to the royal ladies and sophomore warriors that performed last weekend.

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra was trying to make it 10 in a row in the New Orleans Lassie at Fair Grounds while Zenyatta tried to carry 127 pounds to victory in the Santa Margarita for her 15th straight.

Two horses that started with Z and end with A got the money as the bubble burst in the Big Easy for Rachel. She got a solid 2-hole trip after chasing a 42-1 shot and was obviously not 100% and an obvious short horse. Revenge came in the form of the winner Zardana, who is also trained by Zenyatta’s conditioner John Shirreffs.

Shirreffs then got a double dose of adrenaline as Zenyatta kept it perfect as the runner overcame a traffic-filled trip to rally inside and nail the leader. 

The Rebel at Oaklawn, the San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Tampa Bay Derby stole the 3-year-old  spotlight last week and the best of the best could have been Lookin at Lucky. The champion checked, was forced to take up, lost 2 or three lengths yet still got up by a nostril.

He posted a solid 97 Beyer figure.

Odysseus was a Greek leader in the whom after the war wanders for a decade before reaching home but the runner Odysseus had a more immediate thing in mind when he won the Tampa Bay Derby.

With a quarter mile to go he appeared to have no chance of catching Schoolyard Dreams but got up by a nose recording a 93 Beyer in a way that suggests he’ll run all day long.

When Sidney’s Candy went :48 and small change for the half mile in the San Felipe, the race was virtually over. He cruised home unchallenged and held on by a half-length with a 95 figure. Bred to run till the cows come home, he may have a much harder time down the road controlling the pace.

Now into Freaky Friday, except it was Sunday. A not so dissimilar thing to Let It Ride happened on March 7 at Aqueduct and also at Gulfstream when on this same day a 63-1 runner broke her maiden and a 163-1 performer beat 11 rivals for her first score.

First off, the logical thing to assume is that neither of these runners had anything going for them but that is where the Perry Mason’s of the world go to work to try to live and learn so that a gold mine like this could be all theirs.

The New York winner, Alykela, had some hidden virtues that were not known by her 8th place finish in her debut. She was taking a huge drop in for $25,000 maiden claiming tag after trying state-bred Maiden Special Weight rivals and no way should have paid $129.50.

Alykela is out of a dam that won thrice, banked almost $100,000 and had dropped 2 others, with one winning.

But if you look beyond just the basics you would have found that she is owned and bred by her trainer Glenn Disanto, who owns Summit View Farm.

For those that may be unfamiliar with how things work in the mornings, homebreds like this can be put through their steps and get an great education away from the hustle and bustle of the backstretch at places like Summit View.

And although her works were only moderate at Belmont, she did blowout a sharp 3 furlongs before her debut and was tabbed at only 15-1 on the morning line in her shocker.

When the smoke clears, Alykela got a solid stalk and pounce trip from Jackie Davis to score by a nose.

There could be more to come from this barn.

In Florida, the situation was a bit different.

Alke Green was also breaking her maiden but the likeness to Alykela pretty much ends there. Green was stretching out from 5 and a half furlongs to a mile after getting a horrible trip when shuffled back in her Calder debut. Although her sire never won routing, he was second once at a mile beaten just over a length.

Alke’s dam was a non-winner but she had dropped 2 other winners, who both succeeded going a route of ground.

When the gates open Alke Green again was off slowly but she was catching a race with limited speed and was able to track in fourth early on, just a little over 2 lengths off the lead.

Racing 3 wide, she picked up 2 lengths to nail the leader with a half a length to spare just before the tote board lit up to the tune of $329.

Granted, red boarding and Monday morning quarterbacking is always 20-20 but events like this go to prove that these beautiful animals are not machines with oil in their veins, but performers that bleed, improve, and grow just like any of us.

The real lesson to be learned is to not focus on one win or one loss, but to get better as a handicapper, one must always search for the reasons why things happen, then learn from them.

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