I bet Animal Kingdom. Flat out, and no take backs…. I thought he fit, and his pedigree screamed run all day. But, when you run into a mishap into the turn. Well, you have to take it and move on.
Right as the runners came past the grandstand, he almost went down. This gave me a lump in my throat, and watching Graham Motion gave me a deeper understanding. Everyone was really dejected, and one person in particular surprised me: John Velasquez.
Johnny V has been a fierce competitor for as long as he has been riding. He has made things happen and always stood his ground. He wouldn’t let you find that crease up the rail, and he would float out just a little bit to toss some dirt in the stalkers face. His agent is Angel Cordero, and he was the master. For the record, Johnny V is one of the best race riders bar none. He is eloquent and a great voice for the game. That is, all except for this past Saturday. I was a little surprised that he said anything at all. He is a consummate professional.
According to DRF, he called out Rajiv Maragh, aboard Isn’t He Perfect, for careless riding and almost dumping him. In racing, there are some bad things that can happen. Maragh may have been riding tough, and even though I bet on the runner that came out on the short end, I have to understand. This is a tough sport, and nowhere on the data forms will we be able to predict a horrible mishap. It was bad, but I don’t think he wanted to hurt or stop anyone.
The track was muddy verging on sloppy, and the outside posts can be tough in any race. Maragh knows that he will have to ride for some of the connections he may have hindered, and folks have a long memory about these incidents. I understand JV’s frustration, and he has every right to be mad about getting a bad trip, but, Maragh is a professional. This is the way he makes his living, and the days of kn0cking riders off is long in the past. The race was on the national stage, and the world is watching. Starting to get the idea?
Velasquez was impeded, no doubt…. But, Maragh was race riding and not about to let a super horse have an easy path. They will all convene in the stewards office on Wednesday to talk about the race. At the end of the day, both are incredible riders. One is more established at this time, and they represent what is good about our sport. They hold promise, and will provide many great finishes.
As I bang the gavel in this case, I think it was just a tough race, and a bad mishap. Great riding by Johnny V, and thank the racing gods that nobody was injured. Get back to it fellas, and make it happen. We are waiting for two bright stars to shine for years to come.