BY JIM WELLS
People who knew her quickly sized up the situation Saturday afternoon. “Oh, Cam’s watching from above, as nervous as always.”
What irony! In other words, she was now doing what she didn’t allow herself to do while still here.
The person in question passed away last winter and was known for her inability to watch her horses race until the replay. So Cam Casby, the breeder/owner of Polar Plunge, was doing what she couldn’t do while still alive according to her friends _ watching the $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes.
Naturally there was drama involved, a thrilling photo finish, a stewards’ inquiry involving the winner, Polar Plunge, and, of course, the wait.
The decision rendered Polar Plunge and jockey Denny Velazquez blameless for coming in and causing Justin Shepherd to take up on Gypsy Melody. The No. 8 horse, Stellabrini, broke from the outside post and veered in, causing the entire field inside her to squeeze the horse inside each of them, all the way to the rail.
Nonetheless, Velazquez, trainer Gary Scherer and owner Bill Ulwelling awaited the decision. “If they take this horse down, I’m going to be so blankety-blank, blankety-blanking mad,” said Velazaquez.
The official order of finish, when the decision was rendered upheld the original order: 6/5 choice Polar Plunge, 8/1 Somerset Swinger, 8/5 Sky and Sea.
Bill and Al Ulwelling purchased the horse in the dispersal sale of Casby’s horses last winter and kept her with trainer Gary Scherer. “Cam wanted to breed her so we talked about that, too,” Bill said. “We decided to run her one more year and then go that route.
Thus, in a scenario that only takes place at the movies… or, of course, the racetrack, a woman who never watched her horses run while occupying a table on the second floor of the grandstand, was willing to watch Polar Plunge win in thrilling dramatic fashion from her table up above.
SPARKS QUICKLY EXTINGUISHED
Andrew Offerman, looking none the less for the wear, tried to size up opening weekend from his perspective as racing operations manager. The glitches, minor and beyond, that accompany the opening of any activity, performance, operation or season are expected to a certain extent but nerve-wracking nonetheless.
Sparks fly, lights flicker, power surges…they all occur and more, and managers, mid-level and beyond, begin asking questions in the quest for answers, sometimes creating more problems in the process but eager to get to the bottom of things, even if there isn’t one.
Be that as it may, the problems for Friday night’s opening were minor, the most obvious one a short in the load-speaker system during the first race that was quickly resolved.
Just the same, Offerman, conscientious as he is, was feeling the effects accompanying the start of the race meeting, his adrenalin stores low if not depleted approaching the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
“So, how has it been?” he was asked.
”Well,” he said, “it’s kind of like trying to take a toaster through a car-wash.”