Hallandale Beach — We truly never experienced anything like this at a racetrack–any racetrack–before. Think South American cultural festival with a little horse racing on the side.
Well, the racing was the reason that brought out all the people, from South Florida to Caracas and beyond. And not to forget the afterparty at the new Gulfstream Park that currently gets a little newer by the day.
“Think South American and Caribbean Breeders’ Cup, or Equine Olympics of the Southern Hemisphere,” offered Roberto Rodriguez of El Potro Roberto.com.
That just about gets it–and don’t forget the flags. On that point, think soccer, not horse racing..
The Clasico Internacional if a five race series topped by the Clasico del Caribe, their Breeders’ Cup Classic, won by The Brother Slew from Venezuela which, to that point, could have the termed the “Revenge for Trump,” as Mexico, to that point, swept the first four races.
The Brother Slew, a 45-1 long shot ridden by Paco Lopez, had to survive a foul claim by Javier Castellano aboard Ferragamo. At first, the incident look like mucho ado about nothing, Castellano taking up on the fence jumps from the wire. A clean trip would not have changed the result.
But as often happens, the head-on told an entirely different story. Under strong right handed “cropping,” The Brother Slew bore in about three paths, put Ferragamo in tight before the bump for good measure at the end.
Veteran reporters and officials who watched replays from trackside on the new large video board in the infield all nodded that their inquiry and Castellano’s object would have resulted in a demotion. Handlers of the #2 and #11 circled their horses outside the circle awaiting the result.
Many were stunned when the result remained “as is.” After the kind of year American stewards had had. maybe they didn’t want to DQ a horse in South America’s biggest event.
And what were the Florida stewards to do? Give Lopez another 30 days, the suspension levied late last week?
In any case, a complete sweep by Mexico was avoided and the victory was a popular one based on final odds of 5-2 and the raucous cheers that followed Ferragamo around the walking ring before the field was led to the post.
“This is the best thing that ever happened in my life,” owner/trainer Paul Valery said through an interpreter. “Just the opportunity to win with this horse and come to Gulfstream Park and win here, it’s a dream come true.”
Valery, a large man, lifted Lopez out of the saddle and put him on his shoulder, carrying him around for a bit. Yeah, Valery indeed was having the day of his life.
Good for the owner/trainer and good for the event. Good for fans, too. I bet on Papa Candelo as I had some good inside information on the 15-1 chance that opened 5-2 on the tote’s first flash.
Leading comfortably throughout, looking like a winner at 9-2 tired soon after entering the straight, as if a mile and an eighth was going to be one furlong too far.
I’ll go back, knowing what to expect next time, a little more of the happy raucousness from a huge crowd yesterday, a group that clearly was enjoying the day. It didn’t seem to be about betting at all.