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Finest City Upsets the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Finest City_BC F&M Sprint_Mary 615X 400
Photo: Mary Cage

In what proved to be the finest hour for trainer Ian Kruljac, his four-year-old filly, Finest City, came through with her finest performance in winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint by 3/4 of a length.

Involved in a three-way battle going down the backside, Finest City was on the outside of Gloryzapper and Paulassilverlining, and the trio slugged it out around the far turn. They were joined by last years Filly & Mare Sprint champ, Wavell Avenue, who was making a bid at the leaders from the back in the pack out in the four path. 

As the field turned into the stretch, Gloryzapper backed away and Finest City made the lead, but Wavell Avenue came calling on her outside, while Paulassilverling battled to her inside down along the rail. Mike Smith, aboard Finest City asked his mount for more and the filly responded, maintaining her lead through the Santa Anita stretch, safely holding off the determined bid of Wavell Avenue. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Paulassilverling in third in a winning time of 1:22:37 for the seven furlong affair.  Race favorite, Carina Mia, finished a disappointing ninth.

For conditioner Kruljac, who has been a licensed trainer for just two seasons, it was his first Breeders' Cup win, while it was the 24th Championship victory for jockey Smith. 

"She sends herself out of there (gate) and Mike chose not to take her back and it was absolutely perfect. She has high cruising speed and I could tell she was in hand. It is such an honor to compete with all these top trainers and have a top filly," said Kruljac.

Winning rider Smith was pleased for the man who gave him the mount. "I was happy for the trainer and his first big opportunity".

The winner is owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds LLC. Finest City, a four-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip, won for the first time in six starts at Santa Anita. She now has a record of 14: 4-4-2 with earnings of $925,924. 

Sent off at 8.70-1, Finest City paid $19.40, $10.00, $6.60 across the board. Wavell Avenue paid $13.80 and $8.80 and the $2 exacta paid $216.40.


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                                                                              MEET THE TRACKMAN




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.

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