Rosie Napravnik believed that her filly, Caroline Thomas, ran what should have been a winning race.
Javier Castellano thought the same thing about his filly, Watsdachances.
Neither finished first, but both camps were happy, anyway, after 20-1 mid-Atlantic shipper Nellie Cashman and jockey Forest Boyce were taken down and placed third in the Grade II Lake Placid on the Saratoga Race Course turf on Sunday.
That moved 11-1 Caroline Thomas to first for her first victory of 2013.
Nellie Cashman chased down frontrunner Tapicat inside the sixteenth pole, but as Boyce hit her with the right-handed stick, Nellie Cashman drifted to her right as Castellano attempted to squeeze between her and Caroline Thomas.
He lodged an objection, followed by a steward’s inquiry, and when the race was official, Napravnik and Caroline Thomas enjoyed the greatest benefit.
“I wasn’t [affected], really, but Javier got squeezed enough that I was wondering whether he claimed foul on one of them or both of us,” a relieved Napravnik said. “I was confident that I kept my path straight, but I figured he might’ve taken a shot, and I don’t think we would’ve come down if he claimed foul, anyway. I can say I’m glad I didn’t have to claim foul on Forest, because she’s a friend of mine and her filly ran great. But my filly really ran a winning race. as well.”
“I had to stop my momentum because the other horse inside, she drifted,” Castellano said. “I don’t blame [Boyce], she did the best she could. But she hit right-handed and she never corrected the horse to go by. It cost me the place. I could’ve won by a neck, who knows?”
Caroline Thomas won after having her training schedule disrupted by various forces, like weather, that left trainer Barclay Tagg no choice but to take the unusual step of breezing her a mere three days before her race.
After five starts with Luis Saez in the saddle, Napravnik got the mount in the Lake Placid and also worked Caroline Thomas on the Oklahoma turf course on Thursday.
“I thought she was in tip-top shape,” Tagg said. “I had a lot of confidence in her, or I wouldn’t have put her in there.”
That said, Tagg wanted Caroline Thomas to stay in closer contact with the field, and Napravnik did so, even though they were still in last place down the backstretch.
Napravnik got Caroline Thomas going on the far turn, and she spun five wide with clear running room as they got in the stretch.
It appeared to be a matter of whether she would have enough racetrack to catch the leaders, but then it became a matter of also avoiding trouble despite being all the way outside.
She encountered enough trouble to be put up for the win, as Watsdachances, who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, was awarded second.
“Everybody had to move out of their lane and everything, but who knows?” Tagg said.
“My only instructions from Barclay were that he just didn’t want to be 20 lengths behind the last horse,” Napravnik said with a laugh. “So I kicked away from the pony and warmed her up really well. She sat in a great spot comfortably in the bridle and cruised home on the outside and really stuck her nose out trying to get that win.”
Watsdachances is trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown, who was fresh off a disqualification on Saturday that gave him the win in the Arlington Million with Real Solution.
“I’ve been involved in some inquiries this week, they can go either way, and that’s horse racing,” Brown said. “I’m sorry for the connections [of Nellie Chashman], but in the end we got second money, and we probably deserved second money today.”
Tagg said that he has had Grade I aspirations for Caroline Thomas and would like to get her to races like the Garden City at Belmont or Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland, which her dam, Bit of Whimsy, won in 2007.
“She ran a splendid race, I know that, whether we got put up or not,” Tagg said. “She only got beat a couple of inches. She ran the race we’ve been looking for.”