Ask my wife - I'm a very competitive person. I've really tried to tone it down lately and, in truth, I'm much better than I used to be but I still consider second place as the 'first loser'. That being said, I could not be happier about finishing second than I am about Tabby Lane's second place finish at Tampa Bay Downs yesterday in a $32,000 Optional Claiming event.
She bumped a bit at the break though I don't think that really affected her all that much. If anything it bothered the horse to her inside a bit more, but Dean Butler had her in fine position coming down the backside stalking the leader, Pyrite Gem, who set some nice fractions up front (22.3; 45.1; 1:09.3!). As the field turned for home, Dean had Tabby saving ground and had clear running room. I thought for sure we had it then, but Pyrite Gem never slowed, passing under the wire in 1:16 flat (1:16.16) tying the existing track record (under the old 5ths timing system). Four lengths behind was our Tabby Lane who in turn finished almost 2 lengths ahead of the favorite, Judy Patootie.
Looking back, I should have expected more from the winner than I did. While her first three races at Tampa this season were duds, she did show signs of life in the first of those, a six furlong sprint after a two month layoff in a $22,000 Allowance race. She set the pace for half the race before fading to fifth. No altogether unexpected after a layoff. After that race, she raced in back to back routes where she was less than impressive. Another two months off and WAM! ties the track record holds the engine the entire way. Deeper into her PPs, she has placed in 3 Ohio bred stakes races and won a $43000 Allowance at Presque Isle. The talent was in her, especially at a mile or less. I just missed it - though at 19-1 I had some company.
I also went back over yesterday's charts for all the sprints on the main track. Not one was as blistering fast as our race was, though in fairness they were all lower level claimers and one Maiden Special Weight, not higher level claimers of allowance horses. Interestingly enough, though, all but one of those races was won wire-to-wire and the one that wasn't, the winner stalked the pace a couple of lengths off, took control by the top of the lane and won going away. There may have been a bit of a track bias to contend with as well.
She ran as good a race as we can expect from her. It was the first time she faced adversity and she held up well. She seems to have come back just fine and we'll reload and try again. Fingers crossed, it looks like we have some interesting opportunities ahead of us.