BY NIGEL REID
Asencio rides his luck with impressive four-timer
Luck is a word you hear a lot at races and, when you see the trouble horses can get into in a race, it’s frankly a mild shock when the plan actually works as anticipated.
For rider Jose Asencio, the plan is certainly working and he is riding a successful wave with great confidence at present. On Sunday, he booted home a four-timer that included the afternoon’s pair of feature races, a $25,000 maiden special weight and a $20,000 allowance.
Fully Lent, who confirmed the positive impression she gave on her debut when finishing third to the speedy Everything’s Quiet, won the fillies’ maiden special. She led every yard of the six furlongs under Asencio, breaking sharply, burning off some pretenders along the backstretch and then holding off the eye-catching debutante, Sangria.
A graduate of last year’s CTHS yearling sale, where her trainer David Forster bought her, Fully Lent was a second winner by the first-season BC sire, Lent – whose other winner from only a few runners so far, was the impressive Yo Zackly. Owned by Dr. Karl Cha, Forster Stable and Cameron Hill Mortgages, Fully Lent looks the sort to give connections a lot more fun in the months ahead.
That luck we mentioned at the beginning deserted Stoneridge Amber in Fully Lent’s race. She broke slowly and hopped from the gate under Romario Saunders. Then, bustled up by her rider, she clipped heels and very nearly came down at the first turn. Saunders did well to take avoiding action at the last second.
And the racing gods were far from done with Stoneridge Amber’s trainer, Mel Snow. His Slew’s Da Boss stumbled out of the gate at the start of the $20,000 allowance contest, hurling rider Alex Marti suddenly and violently into the dirt. The fall resulted in an injured collarbone for Marti.
To add insult to injury, the horse then proceeded to run his heart out with no rider, getting the loudest cheer of the day for “winning” the mile-and-sixteenth contest in a close finish with the real winner, R W Stanley and Jose Asencio. Trying to get the best position for your horse while second guessing the likely movements of a loose runner is terrifying enough from the stands, and Asencio deserve credit for remaining calm and avoiding further involvement with the “wild card”.
Owned by Nite and Day Stable and Joanne Todd, and trained by Brian O’Connell, R W Stanley, who Asencio kept well positioned in fourth for much of the race before launching his bid on the home turn, made it two consecutive wins after taking a similar contest in July by a nose from the luckless Slew’s Da Boss. Such are the margins.
Asencio’s second winner of the afternoon came in the fifth race. Partnering Harlan’s Angel in the $4,000 “never won two” claimer for fillies and mares for owner Cindy Krasner, he sat just behind the leaders until edging his mount into a lead at the home turn, before taking command and easily holding the rallying Shez Wicked Fast by three-and-a-half lengths.
The four-timer was secured in the nightcap, another $4,000 claiming contest – this one a maiden three-year-olds and up. Quagmire, a three-year-old son of BC-based sire, Storm Victory, has finished third on each of his previous three runs for trainer Steve Henson and owners Lorie Henson, Helen Klimes and Sharon Pring. Smartly away under Asencio, Quagmire saw off the dueling Broadway Dave on the home turn and ran on well to break his maiden by more than four lengths.
It’s taken Saturna a few more runs than Quagmire to lose her maiden tag but, in the second race of the afternoon, the Pat Jarvis-trained daughter of Cause To Believe, seemingly relishing the step-up to eight-and-a-half furlongs, gave little cause for concern to owners The Saturna Syndicate or rider Antonio Reyes.
Settling comfortably off the pace before moving smoothly through to take the lead at the top of the lane, the little grey held a near four-length lead at the wire. The win, at the ninth time of asking, gave her small syndicate of owners a huge thrill, as well as a gorgeous bunch of flowers from the thoughtful race sponsors, PLLR Lawyers.
Jose Asencio’s quadruple rather overshadowed the double for Glen Todd’s retained rider Denny Velazquez. The talented jockey took the first, a $4,000 claimer for fillies and mares, aboard Seeking Bull for Todd and his North American Thoroughbred Horse Company; rallying three wide to take the lead at the top of the stretch and drive clear of recent winner, Mori Girl.
Velazquez’ second winner came in the sixth race, an $8,000 claiming contest over six-and-a-half furlongs for three-year-old fillies only, which he took aboard You Got This for owner/trainer Cindy Krasner, who was also greeting her second winner for the afternoon following Harlan’s Angel in the previous race. You Got This, a daughter of Gio Ponte was winning for the second time in four runs since being claimed by Krasner back in May.
The continued absence of several high-profile riders has heightened the congested look to the jockeys’ table this season. Velazquez’ double moved him on to 22 wins for the season, while Richard Hamel sneaked above the injured Amadeo Perez in terms of money earned when taking the afternoon’s fourth race, a $4,000 “never won four” claimer, aboard Plane Lucky for owner Marty Miller and trainer Mark Cloutier.
Plane Lucky’s win, her second in a row, was another clinic in riding from the front by Hamel. Her victory was also a first off the claim for Cloutier, making it four wins in total for the six-year-old Lucky Pulpit mare.
The damp weather lead to a rather smaller crowd than a sunny Sunday gathering, and the on-track handle of almost $102,000 was some $25,000 down on the 2018 equivalent figure. The off-track gross, by contrast, was yet again significantly up on 12 months ago, coming in at more than $727,500, compared to $522,000 in 2018.