There was a sure thing Wednesday
afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack, and everyone knew it.
A gray (or roan) horse was going
to win the first race.
No question about it.
Of course, even a novice
handicapper could have figured that out, considering the conditions of the race.
Named for a horse called Arromanches, it required entrants to be gray or roan,
and indeed, the seven starters who ranged in age from 4 to 9, were all various
shades of gray.
“It was,” said track announcer
John Imbriale, “interesting.”
a gray winner was assured, which gray winner was still to be decided.
Najarans Star (a dark gray mare) was the favorite, but
jockey C.C. Lopez, aboard longshot Good Karma (a light gray gelding), thought he
might have just that working in his favor.
because, back in the day, Lopez was the regular rider of Arromanches, a
hard-knocking (and light gray) claimer who once won eight straight races
the horseplayers who sent Lopez and Flying Zee Stables’ Good Karma off at
13.50-1 might have been surprised when he crossed the wire a half-length in
front of Najarans Star, Lopez was simply elated.
“Arromanches!” he said triumphantly as Good Karma was led
to the winner’s circle. “My big
Arromanches was a consistent
horse, winning 31 of 78 lifetime
starts and earning $807,924, much
of it at Aqueduct. Appropriately,
it was at Aqueduct in 1997 when Lopez first climbed aboard to score the first of
17 wins the pair would share; Arromanches was retired after finishing second in
a $16,000 claiming contest at the Big A on December 7, 2002, with
Lopez in the irons.
“He was a really cool horse,”
Lopez said. “I rode him for nearly
everybody that had him – and I can’t tell you how many people had him – and he
made money for all of them. I was
very fortunate – he was a great horse to ride and I really loved him.”
Lopez was so fond of the horse,
in fact, that he had a pair of riding pants embroidered with Arromanches’ name
at the back of the waist, which he proudly displayed after Wednesday’s win.
“I had these other pants on and
when I saw this race was named for him, I ran back inside and put my Arromanches
pants back on,” Lopez said. “I
can’t tell you how proud I am to win this race for him.”