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Trackside with Trackman

2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint: Hightailing It To The Finish

 Earlier in the week, the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint lost quite a bit of its luster when the connections of marquee names, Beholder and Kauai Katie, opted into the Juvenile Fillies race. Then on race day Friday, the Juvenile Sprint affair, which kicked off the first day of the two-day World Championships, was dulled even more with two additional defections. Both by injury. The first withdrawal came about when the Bob Baffert trained Super Ninety Nine became cast in his stall in the morning and scraped himself up, necessitating the scratch The impressive maiden winner was the second choice at 5-2 on the morning line. Baffert indicated his juvenile colt will be okay in a few days. Secret Circle, trained by Baffert, won the inaugural running of this race last year. The second scratch occurred when South Floyd, trained by Kentucky Derby/Preakness winning trainer Doug O'Neill, was declared out of the running after it was determined the colt incurred a problem with his left front leg while warming up for the race. The two scratches reduced the field to five, the smallest in the history of the Breeders' Cup, with Merit Man keeping his assignment of morning line choice all the way to post time. But when it was all over, it was the longest shot in the field, 15-1 Hightail, a maiden going into the race, rallying through an opening along the rail to prevail in the six-furlong sprint by a mere nose over Merit Man in an exciting stretch duel, earning his first victory from nine starts. It was two-and-a quarter lengths back to Sweet Shirley Mae finishing third. The time for the Juvenile Sprint was 1:09 4/5.

 

Ridden to victory by Rajiv Maragh, Hightail got off to a good start and soon settled back into fourth place along the rail as Merit Man and Ceiling Kitty dueled through fractions of :22 2//5 and :454/5. Hazardous was poised on the far outside in third, while Sweet Shirley Mae trailed the compact field of five.

 

On the turn for home, jockey Patrick Valenzuela asked Merit Man for run, and the colt responded by turning back a challenge from Hazardous and opening up brief lead. But then Hightail came running along the inside, shooting through with a decisive run that saw him open up a neck advantage. Merit Man, sent off at 1-2 odds, tried to battle back, but the wire came too soon. Hazardous and Ceiling Kitty completed the field.

 

Immediately following the race, there was a three-minute inquiry conducted by the stewards regarding the stretch run as to whether the winner, who drifted out slightly to his right, had interfered with Merit Man nearing the wire. Race stewards did not change the order of finish. Hightail is trained by the winningest conditioner in Breeders' Cup history, D.Wayne Lukas, who earned his 19th Cup victory, and his first since 2005. The colt is owned by Bluegrass Hall LLC 

 

Hightail returned $32.80, $7.20 and $3.40. Merit Man paid $2.40 and $2.10, and Sweet Shirley Mae paid $2.40 to show.

 

 

 

 

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Hi, my name is Nick Costa a.k.a. Trackman. As for my "nickname" of Trackman, it came about the following way: When people, either friends or family would inquire as to where I was going, my reply was always the same, "I'm going to the track man." I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, about a 30 minute drive from the racetrack, in Fort Erie, Canada.  I was five years old the first time I attended the races. My father, who was a regular at the track, took me to Fort Erie. My first recollections were of just running up and down the stairs to and from our grandstand seats and the walking ring. Of course, after viewing the horses, I would run back up the stairs, and tell my father who to bet. He would look at me quizzically, and then proceed to place a $2 dollar wager on my selection for me. Through the years, with continuous trips to Fort Erie, and also to Woodbine and the now defunct Greenwood, my father would take the time to explain all the information in the Daily Racing Form. After I learned the basics of handicapping, I never met a racing Form I didn't like. If I had spent as much time on my studies as I did reading the Form, I probably could be sitting on the Supreme Court. Those early horse playing days have  lasted into my adulthood, as I still play the races today on a regular basis. But now I have added a couple of new dimensions. First, I officially became a licensed thoroughbred race horse owner back in 2000, fulfilling a dream come true. Fort Erie, where I mostly play the races and race my horses, is still my favorite track. It's my home track, where I fell in love with everything about the sport. In addition to the tracks mentioned that I visited with my father, I have graced the grounds of Churchill
Downs (Derby 134 and several Breeders' Cups), Saratoga, Mountaineer, Gulfstream Park, Sam Houston Race Track, Presque Isle, Monmouth Park and Belmont Park. Second, I started to write a few years ago when I started my own blog, called Triple Crown Chase.


The blog was established to provide some personal insight about the horses and trainers who compete against one another in the 3 yr old prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. I preview and review the preps races and extend coverage to include the Preakness and Belmont. Last year, my blog previewed the Canadian Triple Crown races for the first time. The second leg, The Prince Of Wales Stakes, is run at my home track of Fort Erie. I am honored and thrilled to be on board with Horse Racing Nation and I want to thank everyone for their support.