But amazingly, the debuter with the no-name jockey — Alonso Quinonez — and the low-profile trainer — Myung Kwon Cho — got the job done.
Although lots of these eight debuters had quick workouts and great connections, each one seemed to have strong drawbacks, also.
By looking at years of past results, I know that Florida breds have better records for precociousness in Southern California than horses bred in Kentucky or California. So, I prefer them.
But in this race, Florida breds #4 Rock So Hard and #6 The Phenom were both May foals, which are usually a money-losing propositions when debuting. Other information sent me mixed messages, too.
For example, trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled Rock So Hard, also ran #7 Prayer for Relief, who was a February foal with good workouts – both positives.
Baffert has an outstanding record when he uses jockey Martin Garcia on his first timers. But Garcia was on Rock So Hard and not Prayer for Relief. So Baffert’s money horse was unclear to me.
In the race, #10 Premier Pegasus, who is a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, shot out of the gate at 44-to-1. As the field went down the backstretch, Rock So Hard took the lead, but some seven runners were within two lengths of each other. On the inside, jockey Tyler Baze tried to make a move with #1 Red Sharp Humor, but that didn’t work, so he backed off.
Throughout the turn and at the top of the lane, the running order didn’t change much. Rock So Hard led on the inside, Premier Pegasus was a head behind in the two path, while #9 Just Imagine was looming three wide and a half a length away.
The field remained compact as race caller Trevor Denman told the crowd “this one’s wide open.” In deep stretch, Garcia was wailing away with his whip on Rock So Hard, while Quinonez was essentially hand riding Premier Pegasus, although the rider did give him a few taps of the stick as the wire approached.
Just Imagine disappointed his backers by hanging in the stretch as the even money favorite. I’ve heard race track myths that when first time starters are bet down below 3-to-1 they are great bets. But, in reality, they are some of the worst wagers in racing.
I had $200 on #1 Red Sharp Humor at 16/1, $300 on #6 The Phenom at 8/1 and $300 on #7 Prayer for Relief at 10/1.