|Say this for Spanish Mission: To overcome his handling yesterday, he has to be a good horse.|
It appeared as if Pedro Cara had an insurmountable lead in the $1 millionJockey Club Derby Invitational with a sixteenth of a mile remaining in the nominal feature at Belmont Park.
But Spanish Mission was coming strong in deep stretch after finally angling out into the clear at the head of the lane. And then jockey Jamie Spencer dropped the reins!
Spencer deserves credit for keeping the three year old alive while literally out of control. With heads bobbing up and down, Spanish Mission got the fortuitous nod at just the right instant.
Already a group winner in England, Spanish Mission won his U.S. debut for trainer David Simcock and in winning gets an all expenses paid trip into the Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
A Thread of Blue, who led throughout, tired abruptly in midstretch which is where Pedro Cara beneath Tony Piccone took over. Spencer was back in last place and waited to make his move. He finally did before everything that could go wrong in the midst of a stretch drive did.
But the colt got the job done as the 2-1 favorite and completed the 12 furlongs in 2:27.58. I doing so, the Noble Mission colt improved his lifetime mark to (7) 3-1-2.
“He’s a good horse ad I think he’ll get better with age,” said Barry Irwin post race, founder co-winning owner Team Valor along with Earle Mack.
Interestingly, the Breeders’ Cup Turf is not the major goal. “We’re looking at the Melbourne Cup with this horse. Earle would rather win that race than anything and I’d like to win it as well.”
Meanwhile, Spencer described the proceedings this way: “Going into the final turn he was giving me all he had. I dropped my right rein and even though I was using the crop, when you drop your reins in a race, it typically signals to the horse that the race is over,” explained Spencer.
“I would’ve been mad with myself had we lost but he got back on his game and finished strong. He was a very game horse today.” He needed to be.
David Simcock assistant Ian Russell described the events this way: “As the race developed it was just beautiful to watch. “The further he went the better he got into it and he just gets his head down.
“Jamie dropped his rein but the horse stayed on and kept to his job. He knows his job and the further he goes, the better he’s going to be. He’s a lovely horse for the future.”
If that’s true, he just might be able to handle the grueling demands of theMelbourne Cup. Based on Saturday’s scenario, the question is whether Spencer can.