Holy cow! So, War Pass doesn’t get the lead and finishes last—not only did I get the win bet on Big Truck ($16.40), but also the $1 exacta box ($32.40) with Atoned. With all the bridgejumpers on War Pass, I should have placed show bets too though, as they paid better—for Big Truck, $25.20, and $27.80 for Atoned. Third-place finisher Dynamic Wayne (at nearly 50-1) paid a whopping $76.40! The total WPS pool on the Tampa Bay Derby—not the whole card, just this race—was over $1.2 million. So, what “whale” will admit to losing big time on War Pass?
Seriously, I do hope War Pass is healthy—I do like him, and was as surprised as everyone by his lack of response to being headed early on by longshots Gentleman James and Make Me Zach. The various boards and blogs, including Steve Crist’s, are quick to assume injury (and dismiss Big Truck and Atoned at the same time), but why is it so hard to believe that, psychologically, a horse who has never been seriously challenged on the lead would “crack” when things don’t go his way? Nick Zito’s immediate reaction after the race: “You saw what happened (at the break). But he got moving and I thought he was in a good position going down the back, but when (Velasquez) asked him, nothing happened. I don't know what happened. I just don't know.” Cornelio Velasquez said, “He just didn’t go today like he always has. At the half-mile he wanted to go to the lead but he just couldn’t go. Today he just didn’t try like he has in the past. I don’t know. He just stayed back and couldn’t take the lead. He did not run today; he’s a nice horse, but I don't think he liked the track.” However, the most important quote may be from his owner Robert LaPenta, “He had a little fever earlier this week, but we thought he'd be okay. He's a great horse, but he just wasn't himself today.” That’s an understatement.
In the Rebel, Sierra Sunset’s victory flatters Denis of Cork, but I’m more pleased with King’s Silver Son whose late-closing second-place finish returned $11.00 and $5.40. Favorite Z Fortune finished fifth, behind Isabull ($8.00 show) and Golden Yank. Anak Nakal finished off Nick Zito’s horrible day, with his seventh place showing, nearly five lengths ahead of Stone Bird; early leader Sacred Journey faded to last.
Georgie Boy won the San Felipe over Gayego and Bob Black Jack, with slow fractions. Shediak looked a bit nutty, was left at the gate then ran up mid-pack with his head tossing; he finished eighth. Longshot High Stakes Silver was in excellent position coming out of the final turn, but just had nothing to carry on, finishing sixth. Everyone on HGTV was raving about Georgie Boy (and the California three-year-olds in general), but until he’s run on good old-fashioned DIRT, any California horse has to prove himself to me when it comes to being a Derby threat.
In the Cicada, Throbbin’ Heart was compromised by the eventual winner Carolyn’s Cat at the start, but the steward’s inquiry didn’t change a thing, as Throbbin’ Heart was never able to get into the race after stumbling, getting bumped hard and going down on her head. Psycho DJ scratched, so Carolyn’s Cat and Dill or No Dill hustled out to the early lead before the winner pulled away; Ready for Fortune got up for second.
In the Florida Oaks, Awesome Chic can indeed get the distance, as jockey Irwin Rosendo gave her a BEAUTIFUL ground-saving, rail-skimming ride and she easily defeated favorite My Baby Baby who finished third behind a much-better Elusive Lady. Unfortunately, I played it safe and only placed a $2 show bet on Awesome Chic, which still paid $5.60—she went off at 13-1, so those of stronger will enjoyed a nice $28.20 win payout. After her January win in the Gasparilla, her connections—owner Jose Acero and trainer Rafael Ramos—mentioned they were aiming for the Kentucky Oaks and after today’s win I’m keeping a closer eye on her.