McDove ran a wonderful race and did everything but win Saturday at Emerald Downs.
With Javier Matias donning the green and white silks of Emerald Racing Club, McDove took the early lead, was resilient when challenged on the last turn, and battled head and head the length of the stretch vs. a sharp filly named Exit Sixty Slew.
Unfortunately, Exit Sixty Slew had her head down at the wire and prevailed in a photo finish, thus becoming the first horse to win three races this season at Emerald Downs.
The race was the $15,600 Stella Artois Purse for fillies and mares, with a $20,000 claiming price.
Ridden by Rocco Bowen, Exit Sixty Slew ran one mile in 1:36.66 and paid $3.80 as the betting favorite. She was claimed, too, as trainer Blaine Wright and owners Below The Rim Stable and Medicore Racing claimed Exit Sixty Slew from Saturday’s race for $20,000.
McDove ran fabulously in defeat, easily finishing second, while First Heritage, Diamond Cut and Cup of Soup rounded out the order of finish. It was a bit surprising to see McDove grab the early lead away from Exit Sixty Slew, but trainer Sharon Ross said Javier Matias rode the horse well.
“Sometimes they break sharp and want to roll,” she said. “Javier’s a good rider with a great clock in his head, and he knows how to adapt during a race.”
McDove led by a length and half while setting fractional times of :24.31 for the quarter-mile, :47.76 for the half and 1:11.55 for three-quarters (six furlongs). Exit Sixty Slew challenged from the outside on the last turn and appeared headed for another convincing victory, but McDove wouldn’t go away, and the two 4-year-old fillies raced side by side the length of the stretch in a virtual match race.
Although the photo didn’t go our way, it was very neat to see the Emerald Racing Club reward McDove with a big round of applause after the race. She earned $3,120 for her efforts.
“McDove ran a great race,” Sharon Ross said. “Sometimes you run great and get beat, it happens in horse racing.”
For ERC veterans, Saturday’s contest was reminiscent of the 2015 stretch duel between Charlie Thomas and Coach Royal, and just as exhilarating.
We’ll let the dust settle, regroup and then explore options for another race for McDove. In two starts, she has one second, one third and $4,800 in earnings.