Commoner almost dethrones
by Luther Evans - The Miami
Editor's note - This was amusing! The story covered
the horse that lost more than the horse that won!
FIRST PREDICTION a racing commoner who works out in a Winter Haven orange
grove, almost put the squeeze on aristocratic Fragrant Princess in Calder's
$52,030 New Year Handicap before 12,267 fans Thursday.
First Prediction, purchased in a two-horse package for a mere $3,000 from
the Florida Horsemen Children's School near Ocala two years ago, charged between
horses in the final furlong but just missed catching winner Fragrant Princess
by a head. But her rally from last place in the early going did enable her
to finish one length ahead of Greentree Stable's Perfect Point, who had been
expected by many to deprive Harper Stables' Fragrant Princess of her third
Trainer Luis Olivares sprinted down from the fourth floor just in time to
make the winner's circle. "I told you to expect me here because I was
here after Powder Break won the La Prevoyante last Jan. 1," he said.
"I like to start every year in a big way. And I think my Flying Pidgeon
will win the W.L. McNight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on Wednesday, closing day."
Olivares has gone on from such January success to earn the title as South
Florida's outstanding trainer of the past two winter seasons. "I believe
that three is an even better number," he said.
Fragrant Princess carried 116 pounds over the nine furlongs in 1:55 and paid
$8.60, $5.00 and $4.60. First Prediction (113 pounds) returned $6.00 and $3.60.
Julio Pezua, who rode First Prediction for the first time for trainer Janet
Del Castillo thought that jockey Heriberto Valdivieso had allowed Fragrant
Princess to drift in and shut off his gray mount late in the drive. Stewards
studied race films and decided that the winner had been clear when she lugged
in and did not force Pezua to check the runner-up.
It was a good horse race. And it probably would have been even better except
for heavy early-morning rain bringing five scratches after the 1 1/8-mile
test had been taken off the turf course.
Fragrant Princess disposed of Regal Princess and Donna's Dolly inside the
eighth pole and seemed to have matters in hand when First Prediction began
her powerful bid that made the finish exciting.
There's a financial parity today between Fragrant Princess, a 4-year old Diplomat
Way filly and First Prediction, a 5-year old On To Glory mare. Fragrant Princess'
$34,150 purse increased her earnings to $163,531. First Prediction's $9,050
second-place money increased her winnings to $152,464.
And who, you may ask is nervy enough to get aboard First Prediction and gallop
her through an orange grove? Owner-trainer Janet Del Castillo, that's who.
The Jan. 1 crowd wagered $1,722,256.
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