The ultimate winner, #4 Jim’s Decision, was no surprise as I noted in my race preview that he was one of the three top contenders expected to cross the finish line first.
However, getting the money wasn’t easy, as jockey David Flores was all out through the length of the stretch to outgame #3 Smart Hombre and to hold off the late rally of #1 Crestatorre.
Jim’s Decision looked good because he was steadily dropping in class and, in several of his previous six races, he earned Beyer Speed Figures that could win a bottom-level maiden claiming race like this one. I planned to wager $200 on him to win, but it was contingent on his price being longer than that of #14 Salty Robbin.
Salty Robbin showed recent dramatic improvement, but was breaking from post #14 on the far outside. This gelding missed by just a nose last time after going wide on the turn, but was no factor today at 6-to-1. As the 9-to-5 favorite, I couldn’t bet Jim’s Decision to win in this 13-horse field.
But I did combine him with two longshots that I keyed for second in the exacta. Fortunately, one of those runners, a 25-to-1 shot named Crestatorre, came on the outside and hit the wire a neck behind Jim’s Decision. Battling on the inside in this three-horse blanket finish was #3 Smart Hombre, and both he and Crestatorre seemingly hit the wire together. The photo finish showed Crestatorre nailed Smart Hombre by a long nose, keying an exacta that paid $62.60.
In $20 exactas, I used both Crestatorre and #12 Warren’s Tiger — who was 21-to-1 — for second place only underneath Jim’s Decision, #13 Indian Knight and #14 Salty Robbin. The result allowed me to collect $1,252, which gave me a $682 profit on the race after subtracting out my $120 in exacta wagers, a $250 win bet on Indian Knight and another $200 to win on Salty Robbin.
In the running of the race, longshot East Sky knocked heads with Smart Hombre as they led the field down the backstretch. As usual, Indian Knight did not break alertly so jockey Martin Garcia tardily brought his mount into contention as the field swung into the turn.
By the time they hit the bend, Indian Knight was three-wide with Garcia asking the gelding for more run, but the horse wasn’t giving him much of a response. Meanwhile, Jim’s Decision was sitting just behind the leaders while Flores looked for a running lane.
Flores saw his opportunity at the quarter pole and surged to challenge Smart Hombre for the lead as the field entered the top of the stretch. Jim’s Decision looked like he put away Smart Hombre at the eighth pole, but the inside runner was game and Smart Hombre came right back at him. Either horse looked like they could win as the wire approached.
Also, on the outside, Crestatorre rallied to be on even terms with Smart Hombre.
But a few jumps from the finish, Jim’s Decision accelerated for the neck victory.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.