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Racing's Version of a Utility Player

Caixa Electronica wins 2012 True North.

By Matt Bernier

 

In baseball, almost every team has their share of stars and superstars that garner the majority of the attention. The corner outfielder that hits 35 home runs, drives in 100 RBI’s and bats cleanup for a team in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles is going to be the focal point for the media. However, as vital as that superstar outfielder is to his team, it could be argued that the versatile utility player who has the ability to play three different positions equally well may be as important to the team’s success, if not more. The utility player isn’t likely to be the shining star, but he’s easily one of the most respected players in the clubhouse.

 

Horse racing has its fair share of superstars scattered throughout the country. Fort Larned, Wise Dan, Royal Delta and Mucho Macho Man hold down the fort on the east coast, while the likes of Game On Dude, My Miss Aurelia and Amazombie take care of business on the west coast. They generally make up all the big time headlines, and rightfully so. They are your heavy hitters that peak the interest of the racing public. Just as is the case in baseball, horse racing also has its own version of the utility player. Horses that can run at any track, on any surface, at any distance and put forth a respectable effort. They may be a cut or two below the superstars as far as ability is concerned, but there is no question they’re going to put forth an honest effort each and every time they step foot into the starting gate. In my opinion, there is one “utility player” currently in training today that stands head and shoulders above his peers.

 

The only horse to win a graded stakes race at both six and nine furlongs in 2012 was Caixa Eletronica. Owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, Caixa Eletronica amassed $1,116,000 over the course of his 2012 season, which was highlighted by victories in the Grade II Charles Town Classic at Charles Town, Grade II True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard, and the Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. As impressive as these victories are on their own, the fashion in which Caixa won each of these graded stakes is what leads me to consider him the best of the best when it comes to the “utility players”.

 

In the Charles Town Classic, Caixa Eletronica tried nine furlongs for the first time since he took a Starter Handicap at Saratoga nearly eight months prior. The thing that makes the Charles Town Classic so unique is the fact that it’s run around three turns, which is almost unheard of in dirt racing in the United States. Stalking a very mediocre pace, CE kicked clear at the eighth pole and never looked back, winning by three convincing lengths at the wire. Following a dull effort in the GI Metropolitan Handicap, Pletcher wheeled CE back on eleven days rest to run on the Belmont Stakes undercard in the GII True North Handicap. Sitting fourteen lengths off of the scorching pace at first call, CE charged down the Belmont stretch to take the True North by three-quarters of a length. The run was so visually impressive that track announcer Tom Durkin had no choice but to proclaim it, “An Amazing Finish!” After a Saratoga campaign that included three unplaced endeavors in the GIII Marvin, GI Whitney and GI Forego, Caixa Eletronica ran one of the biggest races of his career in the GI Vosburgh at Belmont, closing into another hot pace, only to come up a length and a quarter short to the very promising three year old sprinter, The Lumber Guy. The huge run in the Vosburgh was followed with a very flat effort in the GIII Bold Ruler, only to see him come back the following month in the GIII Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. Carrying the co-highweight of 133 pounds, CE showed that he isn’t simply a one run closer. Instead, jockey Javier Castellano had CE much closer to the pace, sitting less than two lengths off of leader This Ones for Phil. Once the two horses hit the eighth pole, This Ones for Phil gave way, while Caixa Eletronica continued on strongly to the wire, capping his 2012 season with the best performance of his career.

 

Caixa Eletronica is as cool as a racehorse comes. He’s faced some of the best horses in the country this year, including the likes of Shackleford, Caleb’s Posse, To Honor and Serve, Fort Larned, Ron the Greek, Flat Out, Jersey Town, Emcee, and The Lumber Guy. He’s raced in graded stakes races at six, seven, eight and nine furlongs this year. The three graded stakes he won were won on three different tracks. He registered his highest career Beyer Speed Figure, 107, in his final race of the season. By the way – did I mention he’s seven years old, going on eight in January? No matter where you place him, he’s going to give you an honest effort. It may not always be good enough to get the job done, but you can trust that he’ll dance every dance he’s entered in. For all of these reasons, I consider Caixa Electronica to be horse racing’s ultimate “utility player”.

 

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Older Comments about Racing's Version of a Utility Player...

I've always liked this horse. We called them useful horses who raced a long time gave their all no matter what and many times if the circumstances were right could win the big one. Pity is that there are not enough of these guys racing.
His Charles Town Classic win shocked me. When handicapping that race, I threw him out because I considered him to be more of a sprinter. Boy was I wrong!
I just love the fact that he's still taking on and occasionally defeating top level fields at the age of 7/8. The definition of a blue collar horse.
Great analogy, Matt. I really like this "Cash Machine" and love that he is churning out starts and wins for a full calendar year. I hope he crosses paths with Saginaw again next year.
Very nice write-up, Matt. I like that they don't seem to shy away from competition with this horse. All but one of his '12 starts were in graded stakes when he probably could have dropped down and won more often. He came out just fine dollars-wise though.
Caixa Electronica is one of the horses I always root for. He's not flashy, but he picks up the checks!

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