Welcome to the first installment of “Spotlight On…”
Plenty of attention is showered on top performances in stakes races. However, day in and day out, horses at all levels of the sport put on great performances: dazzling, game, eye-catching. That is what “Spotlight On…” will focus on: Chicago-area runners who run big under the radar.
On Saturday, July 25, the fifth race at Arlington was a $16,000 beaten claiming race for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. Read To Me got the jump on the field. She broke on top from the 3 gate, got to the rail, and briefly cleared. However, by the time the field entered the backstretch, Follow the Kitten was breathing down her neck. She edged out of the chasing pack, and pressed just at Read to Me’s outside flank. Follow the Kitten edged ahead through the far turn, and had her head in front by the time the field turned for home. She looked put away. To make things tougher, Alittlebitofcandy, Jazzy Genius, and Zumba It were all rallying from behind as well. It looked like the field was going to swallow her up.
Read to Me fought back along the rail, and stuck her head back in front of Follow the Kitten in the final sixteenth. Both she and Follow the Kitten had enough to keep the cavalry charge at bay, and Read to Me proved most game to the wire.
It had been over a year since Read to Me (He’s a Tough Cat – Relish, by Green Dancer) had visited the winners’ circle. The six-year-old Illinois-bred mare last won on July 5 of last year. In all four of her previous wins, she had rallied from off the pace. Early speed has been a relatively new game for her. Last out she got a rider change to Mitchell Murrill, and she set the early pace. No Flowers overtook her in that start, but she gamely held on for second. Especially with the lack of pace in this most recent race, it made perfect sense for Murrill to send her again. The strategy paid off, and she refused to fold.
Both for her ability to try a new style at age six, and for her ability to fight back to win her race, the spotlight goes on Read to Me this week.