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Strapping Groom wins Forego for Saginaw

I can only imagine what the partners of Drawing Away Stable, trainer David Jacobson, and jockey Junior Alvarado must be feeling right now. In the span of about 24 hours, racing luck served them with the lowest of lows and immediately turned right around and took them to the highest of highs.
 
 
Just one day removed from the tragic loss of Saginaw, stablemate Strapping Groom entered the starting gate for just his second attempt at taking home the lion’s share of a graded stakes purse. Though already a dual stakes winner in his own right, the task he faced was a formidable one. He had to outsprint the fleet Fast Bullet to the lead, have enough left in the tank to fend off the closers, and do it all in the mud against a field full of some of the nation’s top sprinters. Despite the tall order, Strapping Groom did just that and more.
 
 
In what could only be called a performance worthy of the late Saginaw, Strapping Groom surged out of the gate and straight to the lead. He threw down a 22:92 opening quarter, and when Fast Bullet stubbornly tried to stay with him, he simply went faster, zipping through the second quarter in 22:30 to record a half mile in a sizzling 45:22, all while splashing through the lake the main track at Saratoga had become.
 
 
While Fast Bullet faded after the punishing first half, Justin Phillip and Jackson Bend, were waiting to pounce. Though Justin Phillip inherited the runner-up spot when his stablemate backed out, he was unable to retain it thanks to Jackson Bend’s strong closing surge. But even though Jackson Bend finished up strongly, even he couldn’t get to Strapping Groom, who led gate to wire.
 
 
Strapping Groom was clearly tired as he approached the wire, and after the first half, no one could blame him. He began to drift, first out and then back in, but Alvarado soon had him running straight and never impeded his fast closing rival. As Jackson Bend tried to get to Strapping Groom, the chestnut speedster reached down deep and showed his heart to just prevail.
 
 
The son of Johannesburg completed the 7 furlong G1 Forego in 1.22:27, running the final 3 furlongs in 37:05. Jackson Bend and Justin Phillip finished 2nd and 3rd, and the order of finish was completed by turf runner Lea, Sage Valley, Javerre, Fast Bullet, and Golddigger’s Boy.
 
 
Needless to say, Strapping Groom’s upset victory was an emotional one for all his connections. DAS partner Sandy Levine declared after the race that Saginaw had run as entrant “7A” today. “Do you believe in miracles?” he questioned, “I do now. I’m 100% sure that Saginaw was the wings that carried Strapping Groom to win the Grade 1 Forego Stakes. [I am] so proud of our DAS team to pull this win together. Junior Alvarado, the pilot, we love you. Our trainer David Jacobson is so wonderful and takes care of our horses like they are his children. No more words, no more tears! I now know that Saginaw has our backs!”
 
 
Partner Robert Hachemeister was just as emotional. “It’s fitting how it all worked out,” he stated. “John Velazquez had been Strapping Groom’s regular jockey since we claimed him, but he opted to ride Justin Phillip today. It’s just fitting that Junior was able to fill in, and it’s the greatest compliment to him and his ride because he wasn’t going to lose. I’m just grateful that this wasn’t a “Win and you’re in” race, because if Jacobson opts to go that route, I’d rather pay our way to get there [Breeders’ Cup]. He deserves the shot after what he’s done for us because where else do you go from here?”
 
 
“It’s never been about the money,” he went on to say. “Money is inconsequential, and it’s not why we’re in this game. We started Drawing Away Stable so that the blue collar person that couldn’t afford to incur the monthly bills could get involved in the game.”
 
 
When asked about Saginaw and the emotional rollercoaster from yesterday to today, Hachemeister responded, “I would give anything to have him [Saginaw] back. I would write NYRA a $300,000 check and give up this Grade 1 win right now just to have him back. Not even to race again. Just to retire. Everything was etched in stone for his retirement, he had only to tell us it was time…Justin Zayat has been one of our biggest friends and champions. He sent his condolences to us and gave some great advice on how to handle the “haters.” Then when we beat his two horses today, he was the first to send a congratulatory message. I am just floored to have someone like him in our corner.” 

 

What the Nation is saying about Strapping Groom wins Forego for Saginaw...

Anyone who knows DAS knows the love they have for their "children" aka horses. It bothers me that anyone would send bad words to Bobby after loosing the love of his life in the horse world. Sags was his horse but also a beloved Pet. Strapping Groom was amazing ! Well written Ashley
Much <3 for Bobby, Sandy and all partners of DAS. Maybe Strapping Groom will win the inagural running of "The Saginaw Stakes", too :) GB
Still heartbroken about the passing of Saginaw, but this had to help the grieving process, if only just a little.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Since joining Horse Racing Nation as a contributing blogger, Ashley writes as frequently as possible as the Florida Filly. Though she mainly covers racing in South Florida, Ashley also blogs about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offers her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. Most recently, Ashley was selected to participate in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley lives in Central Georgia with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. When she is not covering the races, Ashley works with insurance claims, a job she is able to do from home in order to spend as much time as possible with her family. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is passionate about football, reading, and history and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.