After a long drive to begin Saratoga-Fort Erie Road Trip ’12, I arrived at my hotel just in time to place a small bet on the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. Foreseeing a pace meltdown of nuclear proportions, I was looking forward to betting the Ian Wilkes trained, Island Bound. A confirmed rallier, I believe she does not like Belmont, which would explain her last and only bad race recently. I was a little disappointed when she only went off at 7-1, but I still felt good about playing her on top of my second favorite late runner and long shot, Beat the Blues, and the mare I have grown to respect immensely, C C’s Pal.
The ten cent superfecta cost me only four dollars, and offered a chance at something big. Everything was going as planned as the speedy favorite, It’s Me Mom set down blazing fractions with Winning Image hot on her tail. After seeing a :21 and :43 3/5 pop up on my laptop screen, I felt great in Island Bound’s position at the back of the pack. Swinging off the rail, my choice made a strong run down the middle of track and would have been a powerful winner if not for one small fact … C C’s Pal would not let her by.
While disappointed I just barely missed out on hitting the superfecta by a neck, it reaffirmed my admiration of C C’s Pal. Finishing full of run from the middle of the pack, it would have been easy for the second choice to have been swallowed up by the late rush of Island Bound, but that’s not what the five-year-old daughter of little known sire, Alex’s Pal, is all about.
Winning rider, Junior Alvarado came away impressed, “This filly is just amazing. It’s a little easier for you when you ride this kind of horse. Rick Dutrow really had her ready, too. My filly has enough speed to be close if they are going slow, or if they’re going fast I know I’ll be in a good spot. That’s pretty much what happened. They went real, real fast, and I was in a nice spot saving ground. She really gave me a nice kick at the end.”
At one point the career of C C’s Pal seemed to be a story of a decent filly that didn’t really care about winning. A little more than a year ago she was 3 for 18 lifetime, and winning a graded stakes race at Saratoga seemed little more than a pipedream. That was then, this is now. In her last 13 starts, C C’s Pal has scored in six stakes races, including a 5 of 10 record since being moved to the Rick Dutrow barn. Quick, name another horse that has started in 13 stakes races, and has won six of them in the last 14 months … Not that easy is it?
photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese