At 77-to-1, it should come as no surprise that Spartan Jet’s only two past performance lines were ugly. In both races, he broke slowly, made no move on the turn and had no rally in the stretch.
But on Wednesday, Spartan Jet broke alertly and virtually led this 12-horse field wire-to-wire, lighting up the toteboard with a $157.60 win payoff.
Before being awarded the official victory, however, owner-trainer Juan Lopez had to sweat out a claim of foul by jockey Martin Pedroza. Pedroza, who ironically rode Spartan Jet in his first two starts, claimed that his mount Red Door Drive was impeded when rider Kyle Kaenel allowed Spartan Jet to swerve out approaching midstretch.
Red Door Drive, trained by Bob Baffert, had last raced in September 2008 and nine of his 10 lifetime races were on the turf. In Wednesday’s race, Red Door Drive moved from last place on the turn to a good stalking position about two lengths away from the leaders.
As the field moved into the stretch, Pedroza tried to take Red Door Drive outside of Spartan Jet, but that horse unexpectedly swerved suddenly, so Pedroza went inside. Red Door Drive had plenty of time to pass Spartan Jet but — perhaps because he was inside of him — Red Door Drive never went by and lost by a head.
At 7/2, I bet $300 on Red Door Drive, wagered $150 more on #8 Good Newsman at 3/1 and another $100 on 23-to-1 shot #10 Little Heater.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.