At Calder, 'Prediction'
turns dream to reality
by Dave Joseph - The Ft. Lauderdale Times
MIAMI - Against all odds, dreams
can still come true. Just ask Janet Del Castillo.
Two years ago while visiting the Florida Horsemen's Children's Home in Citra,
Del Castillo bought two horses on loan from the home's administrator Ed MacClellan
for $5,000. One, an On To Glory filly donated by breeder Paul Marriott so
the home's neglected children could ride her for recreational purposes and
later breed her, not to become a stakes-winning filly at Calder Race Course.
"I remember having no money at the time," Del Castillo recalled.
"I didn't even know if I would be able to keep my farm (in Winter Haven)
at that point. But a voice from heaven said, "Take a shot." I figured
once she started winning I could pay the $5,000 off."
That's how sure Del Castillo was that First Prediction would not only become
a winner, but a stakes winner. Some called her a dreamer, but Del Castillo
wouldn't give in.
On her Winter Haven farm, she trained First Prediction through sandy trails
of orange groves and took her for swims every day in a lake behind her farm.
Despite everyone telling her that she had wasted her money - that you couldn't
expect to win when you ship in overnight from a tiny farm to a major racetrack
- Castillo dreamed on. And Saturday at Calder, her dream came true.
Racing third down the backstretch, First Prediction and jockey Benjamin Green
came driving down the middle of the stretch to nose out Frances A. Genter's
Truly to win the $47,650 Black Velvet Handicap.
A 15-1 longshot, the 4-year old First Prediction took the lead just past the
eighth pole and held game while favorite Truly and jockey Jose Velez Jr. battled
with her neck-and-neck to the wire. First Prediction covered the mile and
70 yards in 1:45 3/5.
First Prediction was second in an allowance race Aug. 15 at Calder. Instead
of preparing her for the Black Velvet by galloping her as she usually does
through the groves, Del Castillo prepped the filly with daily swims on the
farm. During the day, Del Castillo turns First Prediction out in a pasture.
"It's a dream come true," said Del Castillo, who danced for joy
in the winner's circle after the race. "Today she just wouldn't give
"Everyone always told me you couldn't ship a horse in like this and win.
But in this particular case, it's all worked."
Del Castillo's good fortune has also helped the children's home. After First
Prediction's prior victories - she has won seven races and placed in 22 of
36 - Del Castillo has donated $1,000 to the home. "And you can bet they'll
be getting another check tonight," she said.
Breaking fifth in the nine-horse field, Green moved First Prediction up along
the rail around the first turn and settled into third going down the backstretch
behind C'Mon Liz and Merry Cathy. It was an unusual move, because First Prediction's
best running style is usually to close from well off the pace.
"I was closer than I expected to be today," Green said. "But
she was running strong so I let her run."
While C'Mon Liz was setting fractions of 24, 48 2/5, First Prediction continued
inching closer to the front. By the time Green hit the 3/8th pole, First Prediction
was full of run, as was Truly, closing from sixth.
"As we came around the 3/8th pole she was picking up horses and they
weren't really moving away from her too much," Green said. "She
just kept on going."
Two-wide entering the stretch, First Prediction took the lead from Merry Cathy
at the eighth pole. A neck behind on the outside Truly was closing. But First
Prediction would not give in. The filly continued on strongly in the last
sixteenth and to the wire.
"I am so glad she is a legitimate horse," Del Castillo said. "I
am so glad."
So is the Florida Horsemen's Children's Home.
to previous screen