As race day moves along I get more and more nervous. Before I get to he track I go through bouts of the jitters - they kind of come and go. As post time gets closer it gets steadier until, just before the gates spring open, I'm as tight as a drum. as odd as it sounds, I enjoy the nervousness to a degree. The anticipation of post time is like being a kid on Christmas Day waiting to see what Santa brought you. Last night...Santa brought us coal.
Tabby Lane shipped down to Prairie Meadows without incident in the morning. She handled the trip down like she handles most things - calmly and relaxed. She looked great in the paddock as well, high strung is one thing our gal is not.
One troubling aspect throughout the card last night was the lack of movement along the rail. I don't know if Calvin Borel could have made a move on the inside last night. The only horse to win from the inside was in the first race and that was a route. The Quinella Queen, her king, my wife and I spent the evening handicapping the races in the clubhouse. Not only was the rail dead tonight, the observed, but it seemed like the one post is always a hindrance at Prairie. Great, I thought, Tabby's breaking from the inside - it was the first indication that things may be heading south.
As the fillies and mares warmed up, Bernell Rhone mentioned that we may have just enough speed to get in trouble. In other words, we'll break into the middle of the pack and get trapped down along the inside. About three strides out of the gate, we knew that wasn't a concern.
Tabby didn't break sharply and trailed the field early. Soon after clearing the turn and moving down the backstretch, jockey Glenn Murphy slid her off the inside and into position behind the group and into the five path, only about two lengths off the lead. Setting up his run into the turn, Murphy elected to stay away from the dead rail and angled Tabby even more to the outside where she lost about another length on the lead moving out another couple of paths entering the turn. By full bend she was a length and a half behind the pack and seemed to be gaining a bit on the field. However, by the time they straightened out for the drive she was out close to 10 paths from the rail and we knew it was all over but the shouting - and the shouting wasn't from us. She passed a couple of tiring horses and as a bitter epitaph on the race the chart writer wrote simply "Tabby Lane was no factor".
It's hard to fault Murphy for the ride. Granted, it wasn't a very patient ride as the move to the far outside before entering the turn seemed to be a bit knee jerky instead of waiting to see if something opened up a little further along in the race, but he may have felt that he had plenty of horse under him at that point and that she could sustain a bid. Also as he took her wide, no one else wanted to see if there was an opening as well and he kept having to slide further and further outside to get some clear sailing. By the time they straightened out, she was baked.
As I mentioned yesterday, while there was a lot to like about her going into the race, there were definitely some red flags. I don't know how many of those red flags were a part of getting her beat so soundly, but adding in a tough rail when you're breaking from the one spot certainly didn't help her cause either. I guess the two things I feel mostly badly about is how much money she took down with her as the 3-5 favorite and the disappointment I know the partners must feel. We just need to shake it off, get her home and ready for what comes next. Bernell drove home after the races last night, so I won't touch base with him until later in the day or tomorrow but we'll have some options.
The important thing now is to see how she comes back, though she looked pretty solid coming back after the race. You can't win every race and maybe this was her clunker - it happens. Two years ago Fizzy Pop put in a clunker on his first trip north as well and came back to win next out. Hopefully history will be able to repeat itself.