Monday, January 9, 2012

Caracortado Zooms Home in Daytona

As the horses galloped home in the Daytona Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita on Sunday, race caller Trevor Denman said, “Caracortado did not fire today.”
Seconds later, he likely regretted those words. His words as Caracortado crossed the finish line were completely different than the ones he had announced at the top of the stretch: “Caracortado: amazing!”

Photo: Terri Cage
On the day after Christmas in 2009, a California-bred two-year-old galloped across my television screen en route to a beautiful victory in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. He captured my attention and my heart while doing so and seven weeks later, the chestnut made his three-year-old debut when he won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII).
Caracortado remained on the Triple Crown trail and six months after a disappointing finish in the Preakness Stakes, the Mike Machowsky trainee returned, making his turf debut in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming at Hollywood Park. He won impressively, leaving the future 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) winner, Amazombie, behind him.
Eight of Caracortado’s last nine starts have been on turf, three of which have been wins. He even made a start in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII), finishing fifth behind the victor, Regally Ready. On Sunday, he got revenge on Regally Ready, defeating the Breeders’ Cup champion with ease.
After a slow start under Rafael Bejarano, Caracortado – whose name means “Scarface” in Spanish because of a scar on his face – raced last in a field of four as the turf sprinters came down the hill at Santa Anita. He raced several lengths off the leaders, seeming to drop farther and farther back. It looked as if he had no chance.
At the top of the stretch, Caracortado could not be seen on the television. Suddenly, his chestnut form reappeared as he accelerated in jaw-dropping fashion. With ease, the California-bred flew past a Breeders’ Cup champion, a multiple graded stakes winner, and a multiple graded stakes-placed horse without any urging from Bejarano in the final stages, earning a celebratory fist pump from the jockey.
“My horse, he showed me a big kick,” Bejarano told HRTV’s Zoe Cadman after the race.
That was an understatement. The final quarter mile of the race was run in 22.39 seconds and the final sixteenth was run in 6.17.
Caracortado has definitely found his niche on the turf. This horse has an absolutely incredible turn of foot and on the turf, it is even more impressive. I am thrilled to see a colt that I have followed since he was a two-year-old continue to do well as an older horse. I am expecting a great year from Caracortado in 2012. After all, the Breeders’ Cup is at Santa Anita this year.

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