Cavorting, I Spent It Show Big Potential
We spend a lot of time, in America, looking for the next big thing - the up-and-coming pop star, the next big athlete, the politician on the rise.
The, if you're a horseplayer, next great thoroughbred.
And that's what Sunday was about at Saratoga - a showcase of the 2-year-olds, the search for a runner with the potential to make noise in May.
And that is, maybe, what Sunday at Saratoga gave us.
First came the fillies, and, specifically, Cavorting, a Kiaran McLaughlin filly who'd romped impressively in her only start, but who came into the Adirondack Stakes an overlooked third choice. She'd faced only three other horses in that debut win, and no one was quite sure if she could repeat the performance against six better horses.
Fifth heading into the far turn, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. swung his mount wide, swept through the corner and took the fight to the leaders. In mid-stretch, the filly was in a neck-and-neck battle with the favorite - in the type of fight she hadn't faced in her young career. And yet, in the final strides, she was the one who emerged - repelling her competitor in deep stretch and kicking away for the win.
"When I asked her," Ortiz Jr. said, "she just took off."
"She's a special filly," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said simply. "We're honored to have her in our barn."
And as Cavorting returned to the Winner's Circle, the rest of her competition made way for the colts - for, on this day, Tony Dutrow's I Spent It, who wasn't a jaw-dropping winner in his lone race, but the horse left standing after a prolonged stretch battle.
And the horse left standing, after a similar performance, on Sunday.
Rating in just behind the leaders, I Spent It, with jockey Javier Castellano aboard, turned for home full of run, but without the room to do it. But with just over a furlong left to the wire, the rail opened up for the colt, and he showed the type of burst a great thoroughbred needs.
The son of Super Saver exploded along and by the quartet of leaders strung out along the track. He walked away to a potential-laden victory.
"You've got to be a good horse to do that," trainer Tony Dutrow said. "Bad horses can't do that. And he's always led all of us to believe...We really thought we were going to see something like this today."
"The way he did it was brilliant," said jockey Javier Castellano. "It was an impressive run; I think he's the real deal...Driving him home, he just went through and opened up. Not a lot of horses can do that."
Whether any horse will be able to beat either Cavorting or I Spent It in the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby - the biggest races for 3-year-old fillies and colts - or beat them in any race for that matter, won't be known for some time. And, in truth, it's probably too early to even ask such a question - but such is our nature, and such is the nature of their performances.
Sparkling as they are, we're all forced to wonder and hope - especially, perhaps, those closest to them.
"I don't want to trade places with anybody," Dutrow said. "It's one step at a time, but so far, so good.