Long Time Coming

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 24, 2008 in General Discussion, News | 1 Comment >>

For a hard-nosed guy from Philadelphia, this is a big day. A guy who is an athlete, on and off the track. He is about as tough as a nickel steak. This is a man who has paid his dues. Doubt that not. He has ridden on the smaller circuits, and his pride made him work harder to face the tougher competition.

As he galloped out aboard his mount Karelian, after Saturday’s Grade III River City Handicap, jockey Bill Troilo was feeling pretty certain of himself for all the wrong reasons.

After more than two decades in the saddle, and nearly 20,000 mounts, Troilo thought he had again lost out on his first career graded stakes triumph. He was confident the Paul McGee-trained Demarcation got his nose down first at the finish of the 1 1?8-mile turf test.

But Troilo learned his initial assessment was only half right.

The veteran jockey earned a well-deserved milestone Saturday, when Karelian dead-heated with Demarcation for the victory in the $114,400 River City at Churchill Downs.

Troilo picked up the ride on Karelian late in the morning, after an ill Calvin Borel had to get off his mounts.

Aboard the 6-year-old gelding for the first time, Troilo swept past Grade I winner Thorn Song at the head of the lane after tracking the pace in fourth. He was drawing clear, only to have Demarcation come running gamely under Jesus Castanon on the outside.

The 4-year-old Demarcation appeared to stick his head in front just before the wire, but Karelian bobbed his nose down just in time to create the first dead heat in the 32-year history of the race.

The duo covered the distance in 1:50.06 over a firm turf, with Telling 1 1/2 lengths back in third.

“My honest opinion is I thought I got beat,” said Troilo, who has 2,457 career victories according to Equineline. “He was outside and, at the time, his horse’s head was in front of me. But my horse got his head down again and I guess that’s what saved us.

“I’m thrilled to death. This was my first stakes win at Churchill and this is my first graded stakes win too. Unfortunately, sometimes we benefit from other people’s misfortunes and Calvin was sick today, but I’m happy for myself.”