By JIM WELLS
Every so often a race without any fanfare _ without much discussion outside of professional handicapping circles, without much attention other than from the owners of the horses running _ will produce a Hollywood finish.
The kind of result that makes horse racing the thrilling sport it can be.
Take Saturday’s third race, a starter allowance with a $12,000 purse. Nothing there to call home about. Nothing to start the adrenaline pumping.
Yet, moments before the race, veteran trainer Bernell Rhone stood on the cement steps outside the paddock and, despite pointing out the modest conditions of the 5 ½ furlong event, stopped just short of predicting a barnburner.
Rhone thus cast himself as someone to consult in the future before placing a wager of any size.
Moralist, ridden by Jose Ferrer, got a head in front of Talk Circuit, with Juan Rivera up, for the second consecutive time, in a thrilling, pulsating stretch dual.
“I was shaking,” said winning trainer Tammy Domenosky.
“I wasn’t sure he had it,” said Bill Kroska, one of three partners in the winning stable, Miracle Logistics, Inc. “It was another heart attack.”
“Best race on the dirt I’ve seen all year,” said America’s favorite public handicapper Kevin Gorg.
Indeed, as he delivered his analysis of the fourth race, Gorg referred to Moralist and Talk Circuit as having “traded punches” for the length of the stretch.
Kroska, Greg Peterson and Stan Krupke are Miracle Logistics and watched their horse win by the same margin over Talk Circuit as he did on Memorial Day.
As exciting as this race was for the fans and connections of the top two horses, that enthusiasm couldn’t match the glee felt by Claiming Crown coordinator Nat Wess.
The two horses are nominated to the Claiming Crown on July 25. Wess was unable to loiter and revel in the excitement of the moment, however. He immediately headed for the upper levels of the grandstand to watch a race in Chicago involving another Claiming Crown nominee owned by Gordy Bredeson.
A RED-HOT DAY FOR RED
You didn’t want to stand too close to trainer Red Rarick on Saturday for fear of being singed.
Rarick saddled four horses; three were winners and the fourth finished second.
With Scott Stevens in the saddle, Rarick sent out Marina Nolan, a Slew City Slew filly and the winner of race one for owners Janie Bishop and Holly Retzer of Grantsburg, Wis..
He struck on two fronts in the fourth race, as the winning owner and trainer with Alex’s Tomcat, ridden by Adolfo Morales.
Rarick was right back in the winner’s circle after race five with Top Authority, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Tom Abrahamson and Kelly Schreurs of Wayzata and ridden by Tracy Hebert.
Rarick had a shot at a perfect day but his starter in race seven, Mister Merz, ridden by Derek Bell, finished second.