Posted by Avram Freedberg
We were lucky. The rain was no more than drizzle for our round trip from Connecticut. After a few wrong turns, we ended up at the Pennsylvania Racing Commission office, got my PA owner’s license and a day pass to get into the stable area. Then we found that every individual member of our party required a pass. They’re very strict in Pennsylvania.
Finally we got to go to the Receiving Barn to see Ahvee’s Destiny before the racing began. She was wet from anxiety but at this point she did not seem nervous. She responded lovingly to our petting and kissing. Then, she heard the bugle summoning the horses to the next race and her ears shot up. She looked ready to do her job. I told her it wasn’t her race yet.
We got to the restaurant, met our friends and the owners of another horse in the race, Canadian Ballet, whom had finished a head behind Ahvee’s Destiny at Saratoga. Then, Linda arrived. It was a good thing that I’d ordered some food early because as race time approached my stomach muscles got tighter and tighter. If I had a horse race every day, I could probably lose 20-50 pounds… another fantasy.
Now it was time to go to the paddock and see Ahvee’s Destiny get saddled up and meet the jockey, Mike Luzzi, who was riding her for the first time. Linda gave him instructions and off they went to parade in front of the race track customers before entering the gate for the Turf Amazon Handicap. At post time, she was 7-1… a little high but about right, I thought.
They broke from the gate and Mike took her out quickly. She was vying for the lead but quickly eased off into 5th. Mike brought her from her outside post 9 towards the rail and then started to bring her up on the outside of the two leaders.. fourth, third… a great ride.
Then suddenly, he took back. Did he think she was moving too early? Maybe so, but you don’t stop a horse who’s moving. It’s very difficult to get the horse started again. As he “stopped,” another horse went around her, passed her and then cut in front of her. Now, he really had to take her back. By this time, he had clearly lost the race but she still could have finished anywhere from 2nd to 4th. However, he didn’t “get into her.” He tapped her only once and gave her a “hand-ride” home. She finished 6th, her worst showing ever.
Mind you, I was prepared for her to lose. These were really good horses. But, the jockey who rode a brilliant beginning of the race was not the jockey who ran an awful middle to end of the race. Yes, you may remember how I’ve said everyone blames the jockey for their losses. I have to plead guilty to feeling that way in this case. I felt like I was cheated. I felt like Ahvee’s Destiny was cheated. She don’t get any respect, a la Rodney Dangerfield. She deserves some. She’s earned it.
Even with her pre-race sweats and the soft turf, she was running really well. If he’d just let her go once he started moving with her, she would have shown how much she had today. She might not have won but she certainly would have done much better. And she would have earned some money. Even 5th place was worth $6000. It was re-a-l-l-y frustrating! Hopefully, we’ll get to come back next year and show them something more. Maybe we’ll even go to the Winner’s Circle. Hopefully, we’ll see several more Winner’s Circles before next year’s Turf Amazon. Onward!
Tomorrow, Rexy runs in that Maiden Claimer that was canceled at Belmont on Friday. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to be there but I hope she gets to see her first Winner’s Circle.