Buckets of rain. Raining cats and dogs. The sky fell in. Noah’s Arc. Downpour. Washout. Bog.
Any of these cliches can be used to describe October 3 at Belmont Park. Summer Bird danced in the slop to score in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Turf horse of the year, Gio Ponti was stunningly upset in the Joe Hirsch.
That day was the last time Leamington was seen at the races. The VooDoo Dancer heroine has never stepped foot on a soft turf that she liked. It looked like she was going to get her firm course that day, until they called the fillies and mares to the paddock for the Grade I Flower Bowl. (Insert your favorite monsoon cliche here).
As the water pelleted down on the way to the empty paddock. The jockeys took their time leaving the quarters in hopes for the rain to pass. No such luck. The riders then hopped on their classy fillies and headed towards the 1 1/2 miles track.
Leamington led the 1 1/4 Flower Bowl until the top of the stretch over the deep bog and that was enough to tire the 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap. She faded to finish fifth after doing all the dirty work at 14-1.
In her 13 career starts, Leamington has 4 wins, all on a firm ground. Of the three times she met a wet turf course, she was 1o, 67 and 15 lengths out of it.
The Churchill turf course played firm on Friday and is expected to stay that way for the 36th running of the Cardinal.