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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Rosario and Hollendorfer Reunite to Win the Met Mile

It was as if it was meant to be – that Joel Rosario and Jerry Hollendorfer would have a reunion at Belmont Park in the winner’s circle for the Met Mile. When Rosario sent Sahara Sky on his closing drive down the long Belmont stretch and his horse met the front-running Cross Traffic at the wire, it just had to be that the California invader would win the photo finish by the narrowest of margins.
 
It was a very popular victory amongst the Belmont Park railbirds. A notoriously tough bunch of racing critics, they honored the winning jockey with a serenade of chants, “Rosario, Rosario, Rosario!”
 
In the past two years the Hall of Fame trainer Hollendorfer and the now New York based jockey have combined only 21 times with a winning percentage of 29%. When Rosario was riding in California they used to work together on a far more regular basis. After the race I asked Rosario about reuniting with the California conditioner. “He always gave me opportunities,” said Rosario. “In California, when I was doing good, he gave me a lot of opportunities on his horses, and I appreciate that.”
 
In the paddock before the race, Rosario and Hollendorfer posed for pictures with friends from the west coast. Then the trainer pulled out the Daily Racing Form and talked strategy for the race with his jockey. Hollendorfer said, “I told him to watch his pace. We knew there was some speed to set that up, and I told him the horse likes left-handed whipping, so I told to hit both left- and right-handed, and he came running and got up the last jump.”
 
Cross Traffic ran another brilliant race on the heels of his narrow defeat to Flat Out in the Westchester a month ago. The Todd Pletcher trainee went right to front, setting fast fractions of :22.40, :44.68, and 1:09.20. Coming out of the turn Sahara Sky was still in last place in the two-path. Rosario started his move and quickly veered his horse to the outside commencing his drive down the middle of the stretch.
 
Rosario was relentless, giving Sahara Sky steady right-handed urging as Cross Traffic dug in and hung on gamely. They hit the wire together with most people feeling that Sahara Sky had fallen short. The replay on the infield screen made it seem very very close. Rosario himself couldn’t tell the outcome, “I was thinking I won, but it was so close and I was so far to the outside, sometimes it’s hard to tell. I thought we had a head in front, but the angle was different and I didn’t know.”
 
Flat Out came into the Met Mile unbeaten at Belmont Park. Trainer Bill Mott and rider Junior Alvarado felt that a bad trip may have cost their horse any chance at another victory on Big Sandy. “At the three-eighths pole I had a hole and wanted to get in a better position so he could pick it up, and it took a while for him to get that position,” said Alavarado.  “And then the hole closed and I had to check him. That definitely cost us the race. He should have won that race.”
 
Mott said, “He got bounced pretty good at the five-sixteenths pole. No doubt about it, they bounced him around pretty good. I think he had a pretty good head of steam going and a horse came [over] and it looked like he went boom, this way, and boom, that way; he was bouncing back and forth a couple of times.”
 
It was the second year in a row that the Met Mile would have a thrilling finish with a closer chasing down the front-runner, but this year it was a nose victory for the horse coming from behind.
 

Hollendorfer said, “My partner and I talked it over, and one of our goals was to win the Metropolitan Mile. I’d never won it, and I wanted a chance to win it.” With the help of his old west coast rider, he was able to win a race that was not part of his other 6,418 victories. 

 

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Older Comments about Rosario and Hollendorfer Reunite to Win the Met Mile...

Pincay's high percentage was not uniform as it was outrageously up there in sprints and much lower on the grass....
Read an interesting study about how riders CLOSE at the wire, did in photo finishes. TOP, not suprisingly, was Pincay at over 75%..Lowest were P Val before one of his manymany rehabs.
No mystery, tw is btw.
What to do. What to do. What if someone doesn't like Orb all that well, but they do think Animal Kingdom moved too soon? It'll be interesting to read the responses to daoddsman. Orb wasn't unbeatable, besides Oxbow turned out to be unchallenged speed. I thought the Gulfstream Park finish would be closer, but I wasn't going to rule out Point Of Entry being able to win at 9f T just because he'd lost at that distance the year before. icy had some analysis of AK moving in the same way in other races. Good jockey, great horse or really nice set up in the Dubai World Cup? You may pick all three, if you wish. tw The Big Guy was glad to have Rosario on Sahara Sky.
Rosario my ass, a jock is only good as his last ride, he looked like a bug boy on ORB in Preakness getting ORB beat with his poor decisions, he also got Animal Kingdom beat at Gulfstream in January
UPDATE -- Sahara Sky got a 109 BSF for the Met Mile.
ALWAYS be aware of somehting when trying to predict a photo....MOST come down in about 30 seconds....IF it is any longer than that it is very very close. Had one last week for show that was occluded by being inside another horse and then the mirror image was blocked by the tail of a horse 1/2 length in front so the judges had to call a dead heat. http://www.woodbineentertainment.com/Woodbine/SupplementaryRaceInfo/Telephoto%20Images/Woodbine%20-%2017%20May%202013%20-%20Matinee%20-%20Race%2004%20-%20Show.bmp
Photo finishes happen when you least expect them. Some cards may have 5 another zero...They are, like most things in racing. RANDOM occurences
Rosario is a good jockey, and is improving and getting better as time goes on. Keeping on the win streak is going to make him
What were the chances of a photo finish in the Met Mile in two consecutive years?? I wasn't excited about this race, but wow what a performance!
What a race! Sahara Sky has to be the early leader for 2013 Sprint Champ.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

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