Race of the Week 2017

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Dandino Dashes Home

Dandino 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Arlington's International Festival of Racing once again lived up to its billing. European horses took two of yesterday's four major stakes, including the second running of the $400,000 American St. Leger. Named after the oldest of the British classics, it is fitting that English-bred Dandino took the local rendition this year.


The St. Leger itself is the British equivalent of the Belmont: it is the last and longest race of the Triple Crown, dating back to 1776 and run at a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs, and 132 yards. It is run each september at Doncaster racecourse. The American version is slightly shorter and much newer: it is run at 1 mile, 5 ½ furlongs and was first run in 2012.


Thus far, the European horses are two for two in our Leger: Irish-bred Jakkalberry, stablemate of Dandino, won the inaugural and this year's winner Dandino has done most of his racing in England, including two starts at Doncaster. Despite encountering some trouble, the veteran Dansili horse was able to split foes at the end en route to a half-length victory.


Marco Botti's charge was certain to be favored with the vet scratch of Dark Cove, who had some filling in a tendon. He was 4/5 when the gates opened. Ojos de Hielo broke fastest, keeping Ioya Bigtime from his usual spot up front. Longshot Ojos de Hielo took the field through a 26.28 opening quarter and raced clear of the field around the far turn. The field was bunched at the half-mile call, made at 53.82 seconds.


Coming down the straight for the first time, Ioya Bigtime put a head in front of the pacesetter and those two drew off from the field to a ¾ time of 1:18.01. Code of Conduct led the trailing group as the two leaders continued to draw away going into the backstretch. Dandino was content to sit off of this pace throughout, letting the two leaders go theoigh a mile in 1:42.53.


Ojos de Hielo was done soon after the mile call, but Ioya Bigtime kept on. As they entered the far turn for the second time, the field caught up to that leader with Conde of Conduct heading the charge. As Code of Conduct came up on the outside of Ioya Bigtime, Naajjar went out three-wide. Dandino was stuck behind this group with Suntracer inside him on the rail as they hit the top of the lane.


Code of Conduct began to draw off before Naajjar began making a move in second. Dandino was steadied at this point, but then was able to shift outside. Once he got clear, Dandino ran right by the two in front of him. Suntracer tried to keep up but could not, though he was good enough to overtake Naajjar who held on for third.


The 1 ¼ call was made at 2:07.25 and the final time was 2:50.78, slightly slower than Jakkalberry's 2:49 flat last year. This was Dandino's eighth career victory from 25 starts. It was also his first time racing on Lasix and first start in the U.S. He has now earned $985,399 in his career.  Trainer Marco Botti has won both editions of this race.


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Meet Alex Fawell 

Unlike many, I did not grow up with horseracing. My first time at the races was the 2008 Kentucky Derby. I bet on Colonel John. That fall, I had the good fortune to go to England, where I visited Ascot and Kempton. When I returned to the U.S., I was hooked. I started reading handicapping books, studying historic sire lines, watching races and going to Portland Meadows regularly. While the purses there were small, I was able to be close to the action and see firsthand the day-to-day operations of an average American racetrack.


Last year I moved home to Chicago. I went to Arlington for the first time this year. In the interim, I have devoted my time to understanding all aspects of horseracing  I hope to provide unique isights on handicapping perspectives and multifaceted analyses on the state of horseracing today. I will strive to write with an open mind and a willingness to learn through the writing process. I will not claim to be an expert, but I will read thoroughly, write carefully, and be honest.


To me, the all-time greats are Kelso, John Henry, Round Table and Yeats. Horses I like because they have won me money include Raven's Pass, Alternation, and I'll Have Another. The greatest horse I have even seen live is Zenyatta. I also enjoy the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, Mexican food, good Bourbon, and old-time music - specifically that played on the 5-string banjo. Thanks for reading!

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