Monday, November 14, 2011

Soaring in the Stretch

n. willet a large, eastern North American shorebird, having a striking black and white wing pattern.
Yes, a willet is a bird, but it is also a horse. Both can be found in New York, but only one can parade before the grandstand after the call to the post, load in the starting gate, appear on the outside around the far turn, and blow its competition away in the stretch. The one capable of doing so is a New York-bred filly named Willet.
Most people have probably never heard of the bay filly. Yet, she just may find herself in the big leagues someday.

Willet, though she is three years old, has only raced three times. Her first start came in a maiden special weight for New York-bred fillies and mares at Saratoga. In that race, the daughter of grade two-winning Jump Start looked home free after leading for much of the race. However, on a day that not many horses could last up front, Willet was passed in the very final strides.

Willet didn’t start until about two months later. On September 25, I watched on television as the bay filly dominantly won a six-furlong New York-bred maiden special weight at Belmont Park. Her final winning margin was an incredible 14 ¼ lengths. Despite having Ramon Dominguez as a statue in the saddle, the blaze-faced filly ran the final furlong in 12:43. The time for Willet’s final furlong was nearly 4/5 of a second faster than that of the stakes race that was on the card that day.

On Saturday (November 12), Willet faced winners for the first time as she took on ten other horses in a New York-bred allowance at Aqueduct. At very short odds, the bay filly sat off a wicked pace before going on to win by an impressive 9 ½ lengths. Yet again, Dominguez was like a statue in the saddle.

This talented filly has only faced New York-breds so far, but I look forward to watching her race against open company. She is clearly very dominant at the state-bred level and I believe she has a good shot at being competitive against open company as well. Just like watching a willet on the shore, watching Willet soar in the stretch is a sight to behold.

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