Though Saturday’s fifth race at Arlington scratched down to just four, sometimes thrilling performances still happen in short fields.
Goesse drew inside, and looked a lock to be the speed of the speed. The race seemed a good spot for this five-year-old bay gelding by War Chant — not just in that he was early speed, but also that he was coming into the race third off of a six-month layoff. He had shown strong form sprinting over the polytrack last summer. Neither of his two starts earlier in the meet had been wins, though neither had been bad either. First off, he shook off Epic Phelps on the front early, only to fade to third late. He lasted longer on the front end next out, but an in-form Purely Given mowed him down just in time. All signs pointed to Goesse being as good at five as he had been last year at four, but he had yet to seal the deal this year.
Goesse’s biggest threat came from the outermost post. Armando’s Star had the potential to be a gadfly. That grey three-year-old gelded son of Road Ruler had shown speed in some of his starts, but had also proven a rating gear. He had had let a loose speed go early in both of his last starts. Two starts back he had let Lewys Vaporizer wing it on the lead, and sprint almost a dozen lengths clear. Armando’s Star charged late, closing the lead with every stride, but fell three quarters of a length short. His next start worked out a bit better. Though Richiebythelinks cleared early, he did not prove quite as tough an adversary. Armando’s Star forged in front, and refused to let a stubborn Smokey Row Mac by. He was finally proving himself against older, and marking himself as an Illinois-bred sprinter to watch.
Goesse got a rider change to E. T. Baird for Saturday’s race. Baird does his best work on the front, just like Goesse. When the gates opened, they sent forth. Unlike in so many races with short fields, Goesse did not get an easy lead here. Mitchell Murrill did the smart thing with his charge: he sent Armando’s Star along with Goesse.
Goesse settled on the front, but Armando’s Star glued himself to his rival’s outside flank. The others in the field, Plunder and Flying Mr K., tracked from farther back. Goesse never led by more than a length down much of the backstretch, and his rival began to close the gap through the far turn. Entering the stretch, the plucky grey had drawn even with the salty pacesetter — and even pushed his nose in front near the furlong pole.
Goesse would not let Armando’s Star by. He doggedly willed himself back in front, and had edged back ahead by a neck by the time the wire came.
Goesse (War Chant – Honey Green, by Arch) started his career in New York, in the barn of the legendary Allen Jerkens. After a few starts at Saratoga and Belmont, he shipped to Arlington and went to the barn of Tom Swearingen. He graduated in September of 2013, rallying from off the pace to win by daylight. He eventually moved to the Neil Pessin barn, still owned by breeder Hal Snowden. Trainer Tammy Domenosky and owner Meadow Lane Stables (Brandon Moran) claimed him for $25,000 in June of last year. After a few starts, Goesse found his best form in his new barn, rattling off four wins in five starts between July and October of last year. Four of those came in allowance company. In eleven starts for Domenosky and Meadow Lane, he has only finished out of the money once, with that being his only career stakes try. Goesse has been one of the most consistent allowance-level performers on the Illinois circuit over the last year, and he stands to be just as formidable in 2015.
For handling continuous pace pressure and gamely rerallying to score his first win of the year, the spotlight goes on Goesse this week.