Race of the Week 2017
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The Dark Horse

Pool Play Makes A 16-1 Splash! – Hawthorne Gold Cup Recap

Jockey Miguel Mena drives home Pool Play to an improbable victory in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Saturday for William S. Farish. 









































Now, why not Pool Play? I mean the horse was a perfect 1-for-1 on the dirt and that lone victory was in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster last summer at Churchill. Obviously there were not a lot of people who thought he could repeat the feat today at Hawthorne. As the second longest shot in the field, at 16-1, Pool Play watched the field ahead of him and was very relaxed through the first mile. Post time favorite and the class of the field, Alternation, had the lead for 6 furlongs but he was unexpectedly challenged by Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer. Even though the times were slow (24.3, 49.2, 1:13.4) the pressure might have been too much for him as he eventually faded to last.


At the top of the stretch Eldaafer actually had a half-length lead for a moment before ultimately fading to third. Cease and Pool Play were the ones to come from behind as expected. Pool Play took the five path and Cease took the four path down the stretch to battle for the victory. Ultimately Pool Play had enough left to defeat them all, and getting ahead of Cease by half of a length.
Winning jockey Miguel Mena noted, “I won the Stephen Foster the last time I rode him. I had confidence in him because I knew he could handle the dirt. He loved the long stretch here. He just keeps coming. He got a good trip even though the pace was slow. When we got to the three-eighths pole, I was pretty excited. I was trying to stay away from Cease, who was also coming late.”




































I was thinking the scratch of Nates Mineshaft would have allowed Alternation to get free and clear, but that was not the case. In fact in a bit of controversy before the race, Hawthorne’s Jim Miller tweeted, “Per stewards, ‘There was a disagreement between the owner and trainer concerning Nate's Mineshaft.’ thus leading to the scratch…my guess is fitness possibly a concern with only four works leading into the race.” Well I’m glad that the connections made the right decision for the horse, but I am still surprised by the outcome of the race!

And how about the value provided by a six horse field?! The exacta paid $127.60, the trifecta paid $878.40 and the superfecta paid $1,529.50! Not bad!!

There were also two other great races at Hawthorne yesterday! The Indian Maid and the Robert F. Carey Memorial stakes each went two turns on the turf for purses of $100,000 each. In the Indian Maid, leading rider Cisco Torres guided Romacaca to an easy victory by almost two lengths on the lead the whole way. In the Carey Memorial, Chris Block’s Suntracer won as expected charging home from dead last to win by a neck over Nikki’s Sandcastle and Tazz.  Block said of Suntracer, "We're proud of the horse. He trained really well coming to it, and ran like I hoped he would. He got a pace today which is unusual for him. A lot of cases he'll get a slow pace like he did last time, so when he got those fractions I thought that it set up nice for him. He likes to win, he's tenacious. He comes from the family of Taxable Deduction, his mom, Leading Astray, Free Fighter and Corrupt." Check out the photos and videos from Saturday’s adventure!!!
 (Cisco wins again!)
My other photos from the day!  Click HERE
My videos from the day!  I do promise next time to tilt the phone sideways to get the wide angle...

Don’t forget, next weekend is the Hawthorne Derby for 3 year olds! I’ll be previewing the race, but I’ll be at Keeneland for the first time ever, thus missing the derby… L 


Still, you can catch all of the racing action here on Horse Racing Nation!! 


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Older Comments about Pool Play Makes A 16-1 Splash! – Hawthorne Gold Cup Recap...

16-1, my bad
I didn't play the race, but how did Pool Play go off at 14-1 in a 6 horse field & his only other dirt start was a grade 1 win!?!? I think the waters in the BC Classic will be a tad too deep, but he's a solid contender in the BC Marathon.
Nice win and ride. Solid exacta payout for Pool Play and Cease exacta!
Glad to see Mena win a big one!
Hey, Eldaafer, my friend from Monmouth Park, ran a damn good race and helped Zipse cash a big superfecta.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
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