Posted by Avram Freedberg
Thursday afternoon Ahvee’s Destiny shipped to Baltimore’s Pimlico Racetrack. Thursday night it started pouring in Baltimore. We thought it would wash her race off the grass and she would be scratched, but by Friday morning, the rain had stopped and we were told the race would go on the grass if there was no significant additional rain. Thanks to Dave K. and Mike G. who gave us weather reports from Baltimore.
We took the Acela at 7:59 and got into Baltimore’s Penn Station at 11:11 where Dave K. drove us to Pimlico. I got photographed for my license and then we visited Ahvee’s Destiny in the holding barn. Her groom, Jeobani, was busy braiding her mane. He did such a nice job that the owner of Mr. Nightlinger who was in a stall next to Ahvee called his trainer to complain that his groom was doing nothing and Ahvee was getting such a nice job done on her! Mr. Nightlinger won the 8th race which was a $100,000 Stakes without braids.
After our nice visit, we went to the track. Pimlico was very disappointing. It’s about the size of Saratoga with none of the charm. One wag said it lacked the charm of Aqueduct (which is quite rundown). They’re gonna run The Preakness here tomorrow. It’s the 134th running but Pimlico is lucky to have this second leg of the Triple Crown.
We found Mike Geraghty whose working on a painting for us and displaying his art at Pimlico this weekend. Then we went up to the Hall of Fame dining room. Sounded good but was in the spirit of the rest of the track… tired. A few tables away from us were Dave E., Lawson and Rick, the owners of Canadian Ballet. She is also part of the Linda Rice entourage. We beat her by a head in the final strides of last August’s Mechanicville Stakes at Saratoga. By chance, we also met the owners of the classiest horse in the race, Smart and Fancy. Nice people (even Dave).
BTW, who knows the meaning of Canadian Ballet? I just thought it was a pretty name but it has specific meaning to upstate New Yorkers.
As usual, I couldn’t eat but we shared pleasant conversation with the other owners. After the 5th race, we went right downstairs to Pimlico’s indoor paddock which is the size of a large living room. Imagine 9 horses in a large living room… not so large anymore. Dave K. and Ruthie joined Linda and Josie and two grooms and the rest of Canadian Ballet’s group. Heck, it was really crowded. Ahvee’s Destiny was wet, as were a number of orther horse and Canadian Ballet was lathered up. We thought she would leave her race in the paddock. It turned out we were wrong.
We were in post position 3. Smart and Fancy was in 4, Sheets was in 5 and Canadian Ballet was in 8. We thought this would be the main competition. However, when the gate opened the #1 horse, Sentebale went to the lead and almost hung on to the very end. At the head of the stretch, Ahvee’s Destiny tried to make a move on the rail but it appeared Sentebale shrugged her off… but she came again. To the outside of them cam Canadian Ballet and Smart and Fancy launched her bid… four of them across the track. Stride by stride they fought. Ahvee’s Destiny gaining slightly on the inside until with just a few strides left to the finish line, she inched in front. We thought it would come down to a head bob on the finish line but all of a sudden she seemed to slow up. Her lead evaporated but it was still a photo finish. The winner won by a nose. Second place was a head in front of third and third was a nose in front of fourth. Whew! Smart and Fancy had won with Canadian Ballet second, Ahvee third and Sentebale fourth. Sheets was three lengths further back. What a race!!
Mike G. took us to the replay room to see the race over and over again from different angles and look at the photo finish. He thought that C.C. Lopez, our jockey, stood up in the irons a little too early. Josie reported that C.C. said the turf along the rail was softer than the middle of the tack and slowed them up. However, Linda said that Ahvee’s Destiny started drifting out late in the stretch and C.C. corrected Ahvee which set her back a little. That was probably the point where Mike G. thought C.C. stood up and we noticed her slow up. C’est lavie. Even the jockey you want on the horse can make a mistake.
Nonetheless, Ahvee’s Destiny proved she can run with these good horses. Next time, maybe she’ll finish on top. We all like to win but it was one exciting race and we are content that Ahvee’s Destiny showed her mettle, her courage and her heart. Horsie, we love you!
P.S. Canadian Ballet is a term used in upper New York State to denote strip tease clubs. As in, “wanna go to a Canadian Ballet?”