A smorgasbord of good horse racing this past weekend topped off with great endings—as well as tragedy.
Starting with the latter, best wishes and earnest prayers to jockey Rene Douglas and his family as he remains paralyzed following a horrific fall during Saturday’s G3 Arlington Matron when his mount Born to Be clipped heels and rolled on top of him. Until the swelling subsides in a few weeks, it is unknown whether he will ever walk again. Jamie Theriot, whose race riding apparently caused the incident in question, has been suspended 30 days by Arlington stewards, yet another example of officials taking action only when tragedy ensues and then usually overreact. Ray Paulick has an excellent post regarding this issue.
And as if evidence for the adage “when it rains, it pours”, two serious incidents occurred on Monday involving Gabriel Saez and Ricardo Chiappe at Delaware, and Inez Karlsson and Uriel Lopez at Arlington. In both cases, the jockeys fortunately escaped serious injuries, but the horses involved—Chanceofshowers at Delaware, and Parade Summer Girl at Arlington—were euthanized.
On the flip side, I’d be hard-pressed to name just one best story of the weekend. Brass Hat’s turf victory in Saturday’s G3 Louisville Handicap is definitely a highlight, as is the red-hot Calvin Borel who enjoyed his second 5-win day of the long weekend on Monday. As commenter Gary noted, how about Autism Awareness and his victory in the G3 Berkeley at Golden Gate? Talk about a great story and a horse who seems to pop a big one just when you least expect it!
The G1 Met Mile played much to expectations, with young Alan Garcia guiding Bribon to yet another victory over his personal playground. After missing last month’s G3 Texas Mile due to colic, it was nice to see Smooth Air finish a game second. Afterwards, his owner transferred him from veteran Bennie Stutts to young Chad Brown, to facilitate a Northeast campaign that may include the July 4 G3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth and the August 8 G1 Whitney at Saratoga. Personally, I put my money on 12-1 longshot Driven by Success who didn’t disappoint, bravely holding on for third and a decent $9.10 show payout. He’d run big speed figures this year, but all between six and seven furlongs, so the stretch-out looked pretty tough especially with his front-running style. However, trainer Bruce Levine had changed his workouts since his last race, increasing them to six and seven furlongs, building stamina—at least that was my thinking. And, of course, Ramon Dominguez was cherry-on-top.
While Borel is the current master of Churchill, his first lieutenant Julien Leparoux nips at his heels. On Memorial Day, Leparoux won three stakes at Lone Star, beginning with Seaspeak in the G3 Dallas Turf Cup, then Pious Ashley in the Valid Expectations Stakes, and finally It’s a Bird in the G3 Lone Star Park Handicap. He was also aboard personal favorite Flibberjibit, who sadly broke down during the G3 Ouija Board Distaff Handicap and was later euthanized. The winner, Wasted Tears with Eguard Tejera aboard, set a new track record in the race—as the racing gods giveth, they taketh away. Godspeed, Flibberjibit.