Greetings Race Fans,
While making the direct trip on I-64 East to Louisville, with travel buddy Dennis Svoboda riding shotgun, visions of Churchill Downs and quality racing captivated our thoughts. Even a winner’s circle photo with Cocoa Bandita was not out of the question, after all she finished second on her last visit there.
What we witnessed in race #6 on June 30 was difficult to comprehend. Cocoa broke from the #10 post with the first flight of horses, but after the first 1/4 mile she was inexplicably pulled to the back of the pack and trailed by 6 1/4 lengths. Still last after a 1/2 mile, now by 14 lengths, our filly had no chance and finished a disappointing 9th as a non factor in the race. While walking with jockey, Jesus Castanon, on the dirt track back to the runway, I questioned him about what had occurred. His excuse was that Cocoa pulled back because she did not like the kickback dirt in her face and she was uncomfortable in getting her footing on the track.
A man approached me and asked if I owned the #10 horse then relayed this unsolicited story. He said he rehabbed a potential Derby colt and had Jesus Castanon aboard in a recent race. He said the whip went up at the start and remained there like a flag pole. The jockey never gave an effort or encouraged his colt. After the race he told him to get off his horse and he would never ride him again. The owner told me that he was an iron worker and former Marine and could not stomach such a lack of effort. “If a jockey cannot work hard for a minute and twelve seconds he does not deserve to be on a horse,” he bellowed. This man said he felt compelled to come over and offer his story because the ride Castanon gave Cocoa was very similar to the one he gave his colt.
Cocoa likes the deep smooth dirt at Churchill and has even run well on “off tracks.” Our filly is a veteran of 15 starts and has experienced kickback in the past. It is hard to know if our jockey was injured, afraid or uninterested. This race was a disaster but after locating the ‘black box” we have determined it was due to pilot error! Cocoa had no more than a fitness work at Churchill and we will look for a fair race and honest effort at either Ellis Park, Arlington Park or Indiana Grand. Stay focused CB you will eventually get the chance to show your true form.