Go ahead. Just tell weanling Mrs. Murphy you missed her first race because you were playing Aqueduct instead...She'll understand. (Photo by Randy Russell)
Few things match the excitement of a horse’s first race.
There are so many unknowns. Its form is blank, and save from a few workouts and the reputations of the trainer, jockey and bloodlines, how the horse will perform is all but a complete mystery.
It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
As a horseplayer, I tend to avoid first-time starters. Unless it posts some razor sharp works or has slam dunk connections in a field of nobodies, there are just too many unknowns.
But this time, it’s different.
Those of you who are regular readers or have spoken to me for more than 90 seconds in the past week already know what I am talking about, but for those of you just tuning in, I’m going to put it in big type so it’s nice and clear…
Mrs. Murphy is entered in her first race on Friday at Hawthorne Race Course. She is the #8 horse in the 6th race, expected to go off around 3:48 p.m.
Now that everyone is on the same page, I can get on with what I was writing about.
Though I will be unable to attend the race in person due to some rock n’ roll commitments in Detroit, I intend to place a wager on Mrs. Murphy at the Mount Pleasant Meadows simulcast before I leave.
Even though I knew who I was going to bet on as soon as the entries were announced, I picked up a copy of Hawthorne’s Friday program just to see what she is up against. The more I look at it, the better I feel about her chances.
First off, it appears she had another workout at Hawthorne on April 9 that was either overlooked by Virtual Stable or mindlessly deleted in my daily exodus of Facebook notifications and newsletters from bands I don’t listen to anymore.
She worked four furlongs in 49.1 breezing from the gate, the 16th fastest time out of 44 to work the distance. Her mother, Janies Enjoyment won four-furlong races at Great Lakes Downs with the exact same time. Plus, it was an improvement of over four seconds from her previous work at four panels. It appears her trainer is getting her dialed in quite nicely for her first start.
As could be expected from a $15-13k maiden claimer at a mid-level track, the field is not comprised of world-beaters. In fact, all but one of the horses entered with at least one start are coming off double-digit-length losses. The lone horse to finish in the same time zone as the leader was seven lengths back coming back from a 28 1/4 length drubbing at Oaklawn Park. If this were any other race, I would avoid it like the plague.
Only one horse is directly coming down in class, the tentative favorite, #4 – Devils Feather, whose only career start saw her finish 12 lengths behind in fifth after burning out on the lead in a $25,000 maiden special weight at Hawthorne. Just about everyone else has been toiling in this class for most of their careers with little success.
Obviously, I’m a little biased with my picks in this race, but if Mrs. Murphy has any run in her at all, I see no reason looking at this field why she can’t at least hit the board. Granted, that could be a big “if.” Like I said, first-time starters are filed with mystery. But if she was ever going to sneak up and take a race at Hawthorne, this is as good a chance as she’ll get.
Here’s hoping for a safe and successful trip. Let’s go get that money.