Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bobina's short life ends tragically

Bobina (outside) broke down right after the finish line of the Senorita
Photo: Benoit, Betfair Hollywood Park

It was not an outcome that anyone could have foreseen.  Bobina, a three-year-old Malibu Moon filly, won the Grade III grassy Senorita at Betfair Hollywood Park today, narrowly prevailing after a brave stretch duel with My Gi Gi , but then, just a second after she crossed the wire, her right front ankle shattered and she fell heavily to the ground.

Her rider, Victor Espinoza, got up in short order, but Bobina never did.  In a display of misplaced zeal, Kevin Krigger, the rider of My Gi Gi, claimed foul against Bobina as she awaited the veterinarian’s needle.  The stewards disallowed the claim, but no one could save Bobina.

When track vets determined that her injuries were catastrophic, they euthanized Bobina as she lay, even as the tote board flashed her number on top and bettors cashed their winning tickets.  The trophy that was meant to honor Bobina’s crowning achievement as a graded stakes winner became her memorial, instead.   It’s small consolation to the people who bred and owned her, Haras Santa Maria de Araras, or to her trainer, A. C. Avila.  They had painstakingly brought Bobina this far, only to lose her, just like that.  Horse racing can be cruel.

Bobina didn’t know how to do anything but win.  Unraced at two, she didn’t make her first start until the last day of March, when she outclassed a field of maiden special weight fillies at Santa Anita, rallying to finish more than two lengths the good of her nearest rival at a mile on the grass, the same conditions she faced in the Senorita today.

She came right back two weeks later and did it again, this time over a sloppy mile in an allowance test that had been taken off the turf.  It was that victory that inspired her connections to take a shot in the Senorita, which seemed to be the perfect spot for this up-and-coming filly who had such a bright future. 

Bobina didn’t disappoint them.  Her courage carried her over the finish line today, even as her ankle failed her.  It’s not known when Bobina sustained the injury that felled her; there was nothing to suggest she’d gone wrong until she suddenly went down. 

Bobina was the fourth foal out of the durable Dynaformer mare, Maliziosa, a multiple stakes winner who won or placed in 12 of her 22 starts, while earning $327,581. In an eerie coincidence, Bobina’s stakes-placed half-brother, Tutti Buona Gente (by Aldebaran), broke down and was vanned off just three days ago in a $10,000 claiming race at Churchill Downs.  It’s not known whether, unlike Bobina, he has survived.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don't dismiss Kentucky Oaks contender Jemima's Pearl

Jemima's Pearl (front) works with Bodemeister at Churchill  4/29/2012
Photo:  Reed Palmer Phography, Churchill Downs

Unlike most of her rivals in the Kentucky Oaks, longshot Jemima’s Pearl has never won a stakes race, but based on her running style, and the fact that she’s held her own against her workmate, Derby favorite Bodemeister, the daughter of Distorted Humor shouldn’t be dismissed. 

A $100,000 Keeneland September yearling, Jemima’s Pearl began her two-year-old career in Ireland, where she broke her maiden at seven furlongs in her fourth career start at Dundalk, defeating Homecoming Queen, who went on to win a listed stakes last year and was the recent upset winner of the Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial-G3 for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Repatriated to the U.S. this year, Jemima’s Pearl captured a mile and a sixteenth allowance test at Santa Anita in March, in her first effort on American soil, under the tutelage of conditioner Simon Callaghan.  Switched to the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, the filly ran a creditable third to Mamma Kimbo and Oaks contender Amie’s Dini in the Grade II Fantasy at Oaklawn Park

But it wasn’t until she shipped to Churchill Downs to prepare for the Oaks that people began to take notice.  She breezed side-by-side with the powerful Bodemeister on two occasions, and barely batted an eye.  Jemima’s Pearl may have been overlooked by the pundits, but she was making quite an impression among railbirds.

She’ll get her chance to prove herself among members of her own sex in the prestigious Grade I Oaks, where, in a field of fillies brimming with speed, the race may set up for Jemima’s Pearl to unleash her trademark late surge.  Her style is reminiscent of her dam, the British-bred Jemima, a closer who excelled on the turf, notching the Peugeot Lowther Stakes-G2 in England and placing in stakes company in the U.S. 

As a daughter of classic sire Distorted Humor, Jemima’s Pearl’s ability to get Oaks’ nine furlongs shouldn’t be in question.  In spite of the fact that he never won beyond a mile, Distorted Humor has been a consistent progenitor of high-class stamina, siring classic winners Funny Cide (Kentucky Derby) and Drosselmeyer (Belmont) as well as mile-and-a-quarter winners Flower Alley (Travers), and Regal Ransom (U.A.E. Derby).

Interestingly, Jemima’s Pearl has what Pedigree Consultants’ Alan Porter and Byron Rogers term a “Reverse Parallel Pattern” pedigree, in that Distorted Humor is by a Mr. Prospector-line sire (Forty Niner) out of a Danzig mare (Danzigs Beauty), while Jemima is by a Danzig-line sire (Green Desert’s son, Owington) out of a mare by Mr. Prospector’s son, Damister.  

Whatever happens in the Oaks, Jemima’s Pearl seems amply credentialed for success.