Rewind to last years Kentucky Futurity Final. In post one was Donato Hanover, driven by Ron Pierce. He was the favourite. In post two was the other elimination winner, Flirtin Man driven by John Campbell. I was particularly impressed with Flirtin Man’s elimination win. It was a scorcher – a back half of 55 and he won impressively. I remember thinking that Campbell would be nuts not to try and grab control of the race and take a shot at beating Donato Hanover in the final – after all this is a race not a tea party for a Coronation. What I did not realize is why he thought he should take that shot (we’ll explain that in a bit).
When the gates flew in the Final he was on top, then when Ron came at him with Donato, he stung him hard. He tried to park him past a decent half, but Donato was too good and went on to victory.
Apparently Ron Pierce took offence to this move and in a piece in Hoofbeats, he said that John’s move “cost Flirtin Man second money”.
John Campbell responded in a recent letter at hoofbeats that is currently being discussed at racing forum Barntowire.com. In the letter John explains his thinking: “Going into the final I knew that Donato was a better horse than Flirtin’ Man. He had proven that all year, but I was very encouraged by the way that my horse raced in his elimination. It went through my mind that if by some slim chance Donato was not at his best in the final, we might have a chance to upset. If that slim chance ever happened, the value of Flirtin’ Man increases another two to three times.”
He was thinking about taking a shot, and increasing the value of his horse. Interesting, because at the time I simply thought it was a good strategy, I had no thought that he was a part owner of Flirtin Man.
In two parts of the letter we get to see how Mr. Campbell thinks of Ron Pierce.
As is usually the case, in my opinion, there is a bigger picture here that Pierce fails to realize or comprehend. Also, it is very easy to be smug and confident weeks later when the race is over and the results are in.
If Pierce ever puts himself in a position to have an ownership stake in a horse at that level, maybe then he will
understand the circumstances and parameters involved.
Maybe . . . or maybe not.
This dislike I kind of enjoy, frankly. John is the best driver we have ever seen, and might ever see, for a reason. He is not one to back down from a good old fashioned tussle.
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