- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Alydar had drawn the outside post position and would have to leave the gate next to J. O. Tobin and Nearly On Time. When the gate opened, J. O. Tobin threw his head into the air and Nearly On Time cut in front of him. The two bumped sharply and moved over on Alydar, who already was in trouble with 1? miles to go.
On the first turn J. O. Tobin's rider, Jeff Fell, forced Alydar extremely wide and Buckaroo took off on the lead. After half a mile Buckaroo and Nearly On Time were fighting for the front-runner's spot with J. O. Tobin moving up on them menacingly. Alydar was back in sixth place but going about his business.
When Alydar made his move it was plain awesome. Velasquez took his mount in along the rail before the head of the stretch. Buckaroo and J. O. Tobin were leading but tiring and drifting out into the middle of the track. Alydar skimmed the rail and suddenly shot past them. Velasquez tapped Alydar once with his whip and then, approaching the wire, turned his whip down the way Errol Flynn used to put his sword back in its scabbard. The margin of victory was 10 lengths.
As Alydar went past the finish line there was a tremendous battle being fought for second place, Buckaroo winning it by a head over Father Hogan. True Statement wound up fifth and J. O. Tobin sixth. But nobody seemed to care about the scramble for second. The old wooden rafters were shaking with applause for Alydar. It was loud and strong, then quieted down and built up again until virtually everyone was standing. Veitch stood in the winner's circle and smiled.
"I heard it all," he said later, "and I was proud for Alydar. I don't know if they were saying, 'Congratulations, underdog' or what. I've heard all the things about if Alydar had come along in any other year he would have won the Triple Crown. Alydar is not in any other year. He's in this one. At the break he suffered a superficial cut behind his left front pastern, but he'll be O.K. in time for the Travers. I think Alydar is stronger now, more seasoned and he's ready. In some ways it was Alydar's best race. Maybe best winning race is a better way to say it."
Veitch walked over to Stall 17 in his barn and hollered in at his top filly, Our Mims, "Mimsie, what did you think about your little brother today? He was superb."
A few moments later Jack Gaver, the trainer of Buckaroo, was asked about the race. "I decided to run against Alydar because I didn't know if Buckaroo was good enough to go against Affirmed and Alydar in the Travers," he said. "I wanted to run against one of them, not both. Now I know what I thought I knew all along. If you can't fight one of them, how can you fight them both? That crowd said a lot today. It said, 'Alydar, you are some kind of racehorse.' It also said, 'We'll be back in two weeks to see you run against Affirmed.' Anyone who runs against the two of them has to be a little crazed. But anybody who isn't there to see it is totally crazed."
And what was Barrera's reaction? "When Alydar shipped to Chicago and won at Arlington, I was happy for him," he said. "If anyone had any doubts about Alydar before that race they shouldn't have them now. He is a great horse because he came back after his three tough losses to Affirmed. But I didn't think Alydar would be able to do what he did in the Whitney. At the top of the stretch he just went swoosh. J. O. Tobin was bothered at the start, but he's never been beaten by as far as 10 lengths before. If Alydar is this exceptional, then how good is Affirmed?"