What a great day of racing. I will be getting caught up on Rachel in the blogosphere soon, but the Muscle Hill win today in the World Trotting Derby is one of the weirder episodes I have seen in a long time in all of racing.
1. Rain Delay - The track is clay, and it can not be raced when sloppy. The rain stopped, but post time was pushed to 5PM, then 6PM CDT.
2. Brian Sears has drives in Ontario for a couple million bucks this evening, and the post time would result in him missing them. Apparently trainer Greg Peck says "go and drive up there, no big deal". I was shocked, frankly. If Calvin Borel had five rides booked today for $10M in purses I am guessing he would rather eat bees than book off Rachel. Regardless, the strangeness of that started a weird day.
3. Greg Peck says he is going to drive. Mr. Peck has driven in eight races this decade, but he is ready to take over in the 500k race. Bizarre? Yep.
4. Trainer Peck then runs into someone on the backstretch who suggests he should call Luke McCarthy in Lexington as he might drive (a guy came along and said ‘How about Luke McCarthy?’ I said, ‘Yes, you’ve got a point there.’ says Peck). Luke is a downunder driver and his brother drove Muscle Hill last year. Peck gives him a ring.
5. McCarthy hops into his car and drives a couple hours to Duquoin. On the way he chats with Brian Sears and gets some tips. Sears tells him to float and take the lead and he will be fine. At 11:20PM CDT he is aboard, and post parading world champion Muscle Hill.
6. A minute fifty two seconds later he is in the winners circle, World Trotting Derby Champion. The Muscle wins easily (although not by ten; as Luke says: “He had a lot left. To be honest, I was too scared to let him go. I just wanted to keep him together and make sure we won the race.”) and he is elated.
Sure Rachel was fun today. Jess and his wine, a marvelous performance, lotsa people at Saratoga, spine tingling excitement. But hell, how can you top Muscle Hill, the World Trotting Derby and Luke McCarthy? Only in harness racing folks.
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