Greetings Race Fans,
Cocoa Bandita gave all she had to offer on Saturday, November 12 at historic Churchill Downs. When the dust settled, however, our filly was a distant 3rd behind some very experienced older mares.
#2 Shut the Gate went from gate to wire and never looked back. Her resume now includes 9 wins and 5 seconds with over $142,000 in earnings. #6 La Crema Rouge, the morning line favorite, was 6 lengths back in second. Cocoa continued to surprise the experts, who gave her no love at (14/1) odds, by breaking well then chasing the leaders three wide around the turn. CB was all out in the stretch run holding off several well credentialed opponents in the eight-horse field.
Following the race jockey Orlando Mojica asked if he could ride Cocoa again. He was impressed that she never quit on him and ran with such a big heart. 100% is all you can ask from any athlete and Cocoa was handsomely rewarded on the backside for her effort.
Maureen was joined at Churchill by Jim Nelson, our good friend and horse-player from Lexington, Kentucky. O’Fallon friends Tracy Rouch and Peggy Sheehy, Bandita’s biggest fans, showered their heroine with hugs, peppermints and more love than any odds maker.
I was told that only 3% of all race horses win their first time out and only 1% follow that up with a second victory. After her debut win Tiz Gallatin fell victim to those tough percentages and some quality opponents.
Jack Mc Dole and I arrived in Chicago just in time to watch Cocoa Bandita do battle at Churchill Downs on the simulcast screen at Hawthorne. We then greeted the ultra-calm Tiz in her stall on the backside. Our fragile filly had not been prepped yet for Race #3 but by the time she reached the paddock to be saddled, she was wound up tighter than “nuts on a new bridge.” Tiz was a handful for the “pony person” and jockey James Bielby as they made their way to the starting gate.
Much like her first race Tiz broke a step slow and was last at the break. TG and Bielby tracked off the second flight of foes until she was asked to accelerate four wide on the turn. In a carbon copy of her first race Tiz began to make up ground on the bend but in upper stretch she failed to rally. Tiz was unable to close the gap on #1 Vilaro, finishing 5 1/4 lengths back in 4th behind #2 Mayor Byrne Rocks and #6 Allaire. Bielby felt Tiz was too keyed up which could have been a factor.
In evaluating the race: (1) a step up in class to a $25K claimer made for higher quality opponents, (2) the fractions were not as quick which allowed the leaders to have more in reserve for their finishing kick. This made it even more difficult for Tiz to bridge the gap and (3) this was only the second race for Tiz and she is still learning her trade.
Connections feel Tiz has the stamina to go longer and may look at a Mile for her next outing. 49 years ago, Jack and I were basketball teammates at SIUE and coached by the legendary Harry Gallatin. It was a special feeling to be in Tiz Gallatin’s presence for this race. We know that as she continues to improve Tiz will be like her namesake…in the upper 1%.