11 October 2010
It was a fine day at the track yesterday. The sun was shining, the air warm as Anne Murray's surgical smile, yet the track was still wet, rated good, a factor which carried much weight in my handicapping of the races done the previous day.
There were not a lot of people in attendance which was too bad. The Crooked Premier's Stakes is the classiest race held all year at Dope City Downs. At 1 3/8ths of a mile, an 1/8th of mile longer than the Kentucky Derby, it is the only race of the year with both a distance and purse worthy of the title Classic.
I came to the track to do three things that day: empty my wallet into the one stakes race, drink my face off and go home singing, "Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers!"
From a gambler's point of view the best part of the race was the presence of a well thought of horse brought up from Seattle to compete. He would be the favourite, based on past accomplishments, but there was no motherfucking way he would keep running for 1 3/8th of a mile on a wet track. Horse had SUCKER BET wrote all over him. That meant every other horse in the field, except the second favourite who was being bet heavily on the basis of a recent eye-popping six furlong morning clocking, was likely to be underbet.
I had watched my choice, Senor Rojo, very carefully in the walking ring, on parade, warming up, racing and back in the winner's circle a couple weeks back. His body language was easy to understand. He was letting his competitors know he was All Killer, No Filler. That said, he could not have looked more different from last year's winner Rosberg. Rosberg is huge horse, presently at stud at a farm east of Dope City, is very nearly perfectly conformed (his babies will hit the track next season), with the longest of strides. Senor Rojo is smaller, not quite as perfectly conformed, but with a more explosive closing stride every bit as long as Rosberg's.
This year's leading jockey, Richard Hamel, a man who could once drink me under the table who has long since come to his senses, rode Senor Rojo just as he had done in the horse's last race, hugging the rail, saving ground, letting the front runners waste the energy they would wish they still had as they made their way down the backstretch and into the final furlong. The result was never in doubt.
I joined my fellow wise guys by the winner's circle to finish my beer and cheer the great horse, his trainer and wise jockey. Tonight, my friends, Sonja and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner high in the sky overlooking a city that has got nothing to look forward to this winter, unlike last year's international beer blast, but watching the Canucks on tv and killing each other in the streets.