the greatest three minutes in sports

Today at 3:34 EST, the gates flung open for the 7th race at Mahoning Valley Racecourse, a $5,000 N3L claiming race at a mile over the dirt.

Solar Maximus (Solar Colony, by Pleasant Colony) raced wide into the clubhouse turn after breaking from the 8 hole.  Despite being hung wide, the five-year-old gelding got to the front and entered into a three-way pace battle with Sonerford and Burst of Fire.  50/1 outsider Sonerford tried to get away midway through the backstretch, but could not sustain that run.  As he was dropping back past Burst of Fire, Solar Maximus was decoupling as well — but in the other direction.  Midway through the far turn, Solar Maximus opened a three-length lead in push-button fashion.  Early-money darling Montbrook Storm tried to give chase, but could get nowhere near.  Retaliator made a late closing run, but could only contend for place.  Solar Maximus stayed decisively in front, crossing the wire five lengths clear of Retaliator.

Just as Solar Maximus crossed the wire at Mahoning Valley, the field broke at Parx for the 8th race, a one-mile N1X allowance.

Waynesborough (Bloomy, by Polish Numbers) had shown two starts back that he could splash home nicely in the mud at Parx, so the sloppy track today hardly seemed a worry.  Odds-on Chad Brown trainee Bond Vigilante and 12/1 outsider He’s a Slam Dunk shot out of the gate early, taking the front end.  Waynesborough was more than happy to take back early.  He usually comes from off the pace, but this time he dropped over a dozen lengths back.  He got the rail in early back stretch, and loped along as the leading pair duelled.  Waynesborough started making up ground through the far turn, angled off the rail to evade Behr in the Woods, and came right back inside to run at the leaders.  The five-year-old gelding rolled by easily, prevailing by a widening length over Bond Vigilante.

Waynesborough crossed the wire at 3:37 EST.

Multiple Curlin babies have won on the same day before, but within three minutes of each other?  This is a new one.

To make this even sweeter, Solar Maximus set a track record with his win, stopping the clock in 1:41.44 for a mile.  When I started researching all of the Curlin babies, I feared Solar Maximus might not even still be alive.  He had broken his maiden at Indiana Grand in June of 2013, and returned a month later.  He trailed early, and was eventually pulled up and vanned off the course.  I could find no further information about him…until September 1, 2014, when he returned to the worktab.  I wondered how well he would take to racing again, but was already over the moon that he was still alive and running.  He won second off that layoff, back on November 26.  After a sixth-place outing in allowance company on December 29, he stepped back into claiming company today…won by daylight, and set a new track record.  Even in light of the fact that Mahoning Valley is such a new racetrack?  The fact that Solar Maximus raced again was exciting enough, but the fact that he is racing where he is competitive and winning makes his return all the more fulfilling.

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