On Aug. 15, Hurley’s Way ran sixth in a Del Mar sprint and afterward Bob Baffert claimed him for $100,000. Over the next five months, Baffert raced his new runner in three route races, two of which were in the maiden special weight ranks, but Hurley’s Way never hit the board.
Finally on Jan. 19, Baffert bit the bullet and dropped Hurley’s Way into a 7-furlong maiden $32,000 claiming sprint, and the colt responded by almost winning after an extremely wide trip.
The race must have showed Baffert that his best chance with Hurley’s Way would be in the claiming ranks at 7 furlongs. So, the trainer spent the last few months tuning up his runner, then waited for the racing secretary to write a 7-furlong race for $32,000 claimers.
And like a baseball player waiting for his pitch, when Baffert finally got a fat one down the middle he knocked it for a loop.
When this race began, jockey Joel Rosario took Hurley’s Way to the back of the nine-horse field then made his move by riding the rail on the turn. In the stretch, Hurley’s Way rolled by pace setter #9 Olympic Magic with Rosario giving his mount a couple of swats of the whip 50 yards from the wire just to let the colt know that the race wasn’t over yet.
About the only thing wrong with this whole scenario was that Hurley’s Way’s price dipped below my 2-to-1 minimum acceptable odds. What can I say, but that I’m greedy. Not only do I want the best horse in the race, but I want good odds on him, too.
So, I ended up going to Plan B, which was to forget about my $250 Hurley’s Way bet and put $200 on the longer of #4 Mont La Salle and #9 Olympic Magic. Since Mont La Salle was 7/1, he got the money.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.