Gov. David Paterson of New York is ordinarily a pretty good public speaker. But standing in front of the television cameras following Colonel John’s slimmest of Travers victories, Paterson talked too much and said little, and, in fact, got his geography wrong.
New York is only the capital of Thoroughbred racing in August, and only on days like Saturday when the sport shines as brightly as the gold on the Man ‘O War cup, does the State deserve praise such as this. The owners of WinStar Farm will return to Kentucky shortly, and with them, goes unmatchable glory. Tomorrow, NYRA officials will still be looking to New York for bankruptcy relief, a new racing bill, solutions to problems with OTB and the choice of a group to operate the Aqueduct racino.
None of these issues, however, was on anyone’s mind Saturday. There was too much sensory stimulation from other sources to confuse the situation with politics. Travers Day was without this year’s box office 3-year-old, but it had 12 other worthy actors in the $1 million feature, and 12 races overall that every track’s general manager would die for.
As for the 139th Travers, just as everyone in the crowd of 40,723 delirious fans, shocked by the splendor and excitement of a dream day afternoon, was prepared to accept Mambo in Seattle as the do-over for Grasshopper, Garrett Gomez, here on sabbatical from Del Mar, managed to lower the bay son of Tiznow’s nostril an inch in front of him, providing the most lasting surprise of all.
Favorites were beat in each of the last six races on the card, in addition to four of the first six races. The string of extraordinary payoffs began when Alan Garcia, successful in finding the winner’s circle with five of his mounts, rode 30-1 Missinglisalewis to victory. In recent days, there have been several superfectas to flirt with the $100,000.00 mark, and this one, the 14-8-2-5, hit for $89,625.00.
Then Channing Hill took Slambino past Blazing Dynamo in the seventh, and that’s when “lights out” became more than an expression. The tote board went dark for long pauses while the unfathomable calculations were being made.
Hill began Slambino’s frantic dash down the homestretch at the quarter pole, persisted down the middle of the track, and swerved toward the rail and to the left of the leader with 100 yards to go. When 30-1 Key Event came in third, it set up an astonishing superfecta, perhaps the biggest in history. The 14-13-8-3, combination paid $1,523,188.00.
In comparison, the 2-9 exacta in the Travers paid only $86.50. But anyone who witnessed the race should have paid $86.50 to the track for the privilege of being there.