Passing time this evening awaiting the New Year’s Eve Stakes at Mountaineer, and imagine my surprise when I notice after only half-heartedly watching the beginning of race 7 on HRTV that the field begins a second lap around the track! Okay, what’s this? I quickly go to Equibase to see that Mountaineer had actually managed to fill an eight-horse field for a true marathon distance—2-1/16 miles, or 16 furlongs! Okay, so it took them 3:43.32—but winner Spiritwood (El Corredor out of the Rahy mare Waskesiu) looked like he had plenty left at the end.
Unfortunately in the feature race the aged Afleet Angel could only manage a third, as three-year-olds Royale Michele (former Todd Pletcher-trainee) and A Rose for You finished one-two—their combined ages still two years less than the eight-year-old Afleet Angel.
Earlier, in race 3 at Philadelphia, Persuasion was scratched, and, as suspected, Big Silverman was totally crushed, finishing last in the field of eleven—nearly 30 lengths back of the winner. And that winner just happened to be the longest of longshots—106-1 Keep Diggin who paid a whopping $214.80, $51.20 and $22.20. It was actually quite impressive, as Keep Diggin went nearly six-wide around the final turn and put a nose in front at the wire. It’s probably not saying much about his future, but three-year-old runner-up Open Space was making his first start for trainer Michael McCarthy—a $525,000 Keeneland purchase running as a $25,000 claimer. Wow! A well-bred one, at that, with half-siblings including G1 winner Dreams Gallore, and G3 victors Absent Friend and Fateful Dream.
Turns out Keep Diggin wasn’t the biggest winner of the day; at Penn National, in race 6, Ms. Jetsetter won at nearly 123-1, paying $247.20, $64.20, and $24.40. Add to that 78-1 longshot Ongo ($158.00, $94.60 and $34.40) in race 7 at Sunland, and someone could have had a very nice pre-New Year payday. Unfortunately, it wasn't me! :)