Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
It’s usually easy to see when a horse runs into trouble during a race.
What’s more difficult to discern is whether that trouble had any impact on the outcome of the race.
Sometimes traffic problems can cost a horse a race. Other times it was a meaningless footnote to a foregone conclusion. Deciding between the two isn’t easy, but one reliable factor involves what a horse shows once he extricates himself from trouble.
Sky Blazer had no lack of problems when he raced on Feb. 2 in an optional claimer at one mile on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Racing 10th in a field of 13 over a speed-favoring course, he was rallying 5-horses wide at the top of stretch when he had nowhere to run for a while. Once clear, Sky Blazer showed his class and determination when he kicked into gear again and rocketed from ninth to second in the final furlong, losing by three quarters of a length.
In closing that quickly, and moving past seven horses in an eighth of a mile, Sky Blazer surely qualified as a determined runner who might have won if not for losing his momentum at a crucial point in the race.
Nearly a month later, on March 2, Sky Blazer returned in the same optional claimer, only at the slightly longer distance of a mile and a sixteenth.
Sent off at 6-1 in his previous race, Sky Blazer was dismissed at a more attractive price of 8-1.
This time, with a clean trip, he once again rallied strongly in the stretch and drew off in the final sixteenth to win by a length and pay $18.40.
THE LESSON: A rough trip is not reason enough to back a horse in its next start. But when a horse shows the ability to overcome that trouble and gain ground after that incident, there’s a strong chance he can make amends when he returns to the races.
SKY BLAZER'S 2014 PAST PERFORMANCES