Sunday, May 4, 2008

This One We Wanted

There was early speed in the race. We had last year's champion jockey on board. We had a couple of bullet works leading up to the race. We had a fast track. It all seemed to set up nicely. I even made sure to wear a nice shirt to Canterbury Park today. Somerset Wish, a 4-year old filly by Gazebo (Unbridled) out of Somerset Blum was making her seasonal debut at 5.5 furlongs. She came close for Star of the North Racing (GRS owns 10% of her and her brother, Somerset Sam) last year with 2 seconds and 2 thirds and we felt the pump was primed for a big effort by our filly today.

Early speed had been dominant over the first day and a half of racing at Canterbury this weekend. With several speedsters in the line-up today, though, we felt sitting right off the pace would be the place to be. The winner got that trip. The winner wasn't Wish.

She broke OK, but she wasn't really hustled up and she trailed the field at the quarter pole by 10 lengths and my heart sank. Yesterday was Sam's first trip over to the paddock and his first time over the surface in a race and I knew he needed one, so though he was behind early I was hoping he just got something out of the experience (he did). With Wish, my heart sinking was a product of my disappointment. I knew the way the surface was playing it would take a miracle for her to get there. She did make a nice mid-race move and got to within 7.5 heading into the stretch, but her luck ran out as she had to be steadied slightly in the stretch and she was done. She made it up for 4th and galloped out well, but it wasn't what we wanted. We wanted the 'W'.

I've since watched the replay several times - apparently I'm a glutton for punishment - and the more I watch the more I tell myself that she just needed a race to be reminded why she was back at the track. I tried to remember that she had been off 8 months. Eight months! A solid 4th after an eight month layoff really isn't bad. Sometimes horses need to remember the racetrack experience. I'm hopeful that this will be an 'AHA!' moment for her. That next time out she minds her business, gets piloted a little closer to the pace and finally gets that elusive first win. She proved last year she has a lot of heart, now we just have to get her a little luck.

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