BY JIM WELLS
Athletes of every stripe undergo a similar process every season _ the first hit, the first single or double. Or maybe it’s the first game in double points, the first double/double; it doesn’t seem to matter, there is a start to every season for every athlete that doesn’t always begin on opening day.
Racing might be easier to track in that regard. The first win is a starting point for any rider. Some get it out of the way a lot sooner than others. For Nik Goodwin, it came Friday night, in the first race on the card, a 250-yard dash for quarter horses, aboard Apolls Reign, trained and owned by Mark Wilson.
The first of anything can become a weight that gets heavier and heavier, for any athlete, the longer it takes. They want it in the rearview mirror as fast as possible. The first touchdown. “Or the first catch. Get it out of the way,” Goodwin agreed.
Goodwin, a native Minnesotan, didn’t care if it came aboard a quarter horse or a thoroughbred. He rides both, although he is a two-time leading quarter horse rider in Shakopee.
There were firsts of other kinds, too.
Take race two on the card, a six-furlong dash on the main track, won by a horse called Jeana Baby, trained by Vic Hanson and owned by James Thares. Jeana Baby won for the fifth time, this time under Quincy Hamilton in a hair-raising race to the wire, finishing, oh, an inch or so in front of She’sgotthebeat and Orlando Mojica.
Hamilton needed to ride to the wire in that one. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Whooo!”
The FIRST in this race came via the claiming box, the first claim by a new partnership called the Double A Gap Group, comprising track announcer Paul Allen, a coach named Mike Zimmer and eight others. The Double A bunch claimed Jeana Baby for $7,500, the price for Minnesota-breds in the race. Jeana Baby is a 6-year-old chestnut mare by Super Saver from Start a Revolution. She went into the race with a 4-1 career record from 19 starts
Ten percent of whatever is left in the group’s account at the end of the season will go to Zimmer Foundation.
Allen was ecstatic after the horse’s win, although he stressed that he and his group intend to take it “one race at a time. We aren’t talking Breeders’ Cup or anything that dramatic at this particular point. Like I said, it’s one race at a time. We will discuss where to run her next in the coming days and then make a decision based on what’s right for the horse.”
As for Jeana’s trip to the winner’s circle Friday night, Allen said he was generally pleased. “She ran a defensive race,” he said. “I know that Zimmer likes good defense. So, if he’s happy, I’m happy.”
On a night of various firsts, Allen stressed that the Double A bunch intends to put the horse first.
Jareth Loveberry was aboard the winner of the third race, English Ransom, a winner for the first time after starting out 0-12. It was a welcome change of mounts in this particular case. In his last start, Big Valiant tested Loveberry’s cowboy instincts, bucking his way out of the gate before being pulled up.
“Did he buck tonight ? ” Loveberry asked after riding English Ransom to the first win of his career. No, he didn’t and he finished fourth.
Running for the first time since November, the Francisco Bravo-trained Ibaka was a clear winner under Ry Eikleberry in the fourth race, but had to await an objection by rider Leandro Goncalves.
No changes were made after a review by the racing stewards and Ibaka, finishing off a night of firsts, had his first win since the $50,000 Brooks Fields stakes at Canterbury last August.