Toby’s Corner!


What can I say?  He came from last to first and upset Uncle Mo in the Grade I Wood Memorial.  Toby didn’t have the best of trips as he was shuffled back to last about half way but Eddie Castro got him going when it was time and he found a gap.  Still had his head a little on the side going through it but once through the blinkers kept him straight as an arrow and focused.  This was the first time that the owner and breeder, Mrs. Dianne Cotter had managed to get to the races to watch him and it was also the first time that Graham had too.  Congratulations to both.  Mrs. Cotter also bred Toby’s sire Bellamy Road so a very exciting day for her.

photo  by Coglianese photos 

From the New York Times –

Surprise Contender for Kentucky Derby Bursts Out of Pack to Win Wood Memorial

Graham Motion is a cautious horse trainer and, like many of them, a superstitious one as well. Not once had he mentioned the Kentucky Derby to the owners of Toby’s Corner, Dianne and Julian Cotter. It looked like a wise decision a month ago when the colt finished a well-beaten third in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
In fact, Motion thought the Preakness Stakes was the most logical place for Toby’s Corner to make his Triple Crown debut. So last week, he was set to send Toby’s Corner to the Illinois Derby on Saturday. Uncle Mo, after all, was headlining the Grade I, $1 million Wood Memorial and why in the world would he want to tangle with that 2-year-old champion?

The Cotters, however, had a feeling. They had bred the colt’s sire, Bellamy Road, and in 2005, they watched from their home in Florida as Bellamy Road rocketed to a 17 ½-length victory in the Wood Memorial. Right then and there, Dianne Cotter decided that the first opportunity they had to breed to Bellamy Road, they were going to keep the offspring.

Julian Cotter took it a step further. He told Motion that Toby’s Corner should not only run in the Wood, but he guaranteed him that the colt would win it just as his father did. Lo and behold, when the field of nine turned for home at Aqueduct, there was Toby’s Corner threading his way through from sixth place with dead aim on Uncle Mo, who had led every step of the way.

But Uncle Mo was leg-weary and wobbly, and the 12,144 people who came to see the Derby favorite knew it and were hushed. Toby’s Corner? Well, for the first time, he was wearing blinkers — shades that limit a horse’s peripheral vision to help him focus — and was running straighter than in his five previous starts.

With his jockey, Eddie Castro, sitting as still as a frog on a log, Toby’s Corner collared Starship Caesar, and then Norman Asbjornson, and then vaulted past Uncle Mo, who was on the rail. 

Once we got some room, he took off,” Castro said.

All that was left was Arthur’s Tale to his outside, and Castro knew he had that one measured. He roared to the wire with a neck to spare.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Castro said. “I really like this horse. I rode him comfortably.”

Suddenly, Castro, Motion and the Cotters were Derby-bound, with the $600,000 first-place check that assured them a place inside the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Bettors who took a stand against the 1-9 favorite Uncle Mo were smiling as well: they were rewarded $19.40 for a $2 bet to win.

“I just can’t stop laughing,” a smiling Dianne Cotter said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.” 

It was a puzzling if not quite devastating setback for the Uncle Mo camp. John Velazquez had guided his colt through modest fractions of 47.98 for a half-mile and 1:12.28 for six furlongs, but the colt had nothing left in the stretch.

“I can’t make much excuse,” Uncle Mo’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, said. “Johnny said he wasn’t as relaxed as he would have liked him to be, although the fractions were fair. Obviously, he got a little late the last part.”

The fact that another of Pletcher’s horses, Joe Vann, captured the Illinois Derby was of little consolation to the trainer. Motion and the Cotters, on the other hand, were glad they had returned to New York. With Uncle Mo turning in a mortal performance and the West Coast challenger Premier Pegasus out with an injury, the Toby’s Corner camp was not only talking Derby, but even believing it might have a chance to win.

“We’re going, as long as he’s doing fine,” Motion said. “It looks like the mile and a quarter won’t be a problem, and it’s very wide open now. It’s obviously a very-wide-open group, and I kind of think he ranks right up there with the top ones.”{jcomments on}


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