The Colonial Cup, the greatest rider’s race in America. If I was riding . . .
Three Carat. Humor him, try to get him in the race where he’s comfortable and happy, not too close, not too far out of it. Don’t give up anything at any step of the race, he’s a big galloper who needs room. Break from the inside, if he’s comfortable, stay there and save ground every yard. If he’s unhappy or threatened there, get out. Don’t think about winning race until they touch down after second-to-last.
Best Attack. Ride him like he’s got enough talent to win the race, keep him closer than he’s been in most of his races, another one to humor and cajole along so he doesn’t know it’s work until as late as possible. Give him every chance, give him confidence, make it fun. Enjoy the ride.
Pierrot Lunaire. He had enough speed in England to lay close so put him closer than he’s been in his two starts here. No need to be last in a tough field, put him in the middle and let his class carry him. Don’t make it any harder on him than you need to, make sure he gets his jumping down early, then sit and wait, always go inside over the last two and remember right about the time when you think they’re never coming back is about the time they come back, don’t overreact.
Your Sum Man. Used his stamina to his advantage at Far Hills, a little tougher in Colonial Cup. They’ll go quicker this time so don’t run him off his feet, but keep him close, just off leaders. Allow others to do the donkey work on the lead and get first run on closers. Big horse, probably get him clear once you turn for home. Ride him confidently and make sure he doesn’t over jump these fences thinking they’re as daunting as chase fences in Ireland.
Mixed Up. The toughest ride of race. Toughest because if it’s done exactly right, he could pull it off, if it’s done even remotely wrong, you’re in deep water. Ride him like he can’t get the trip; save, save, save, save. This doesn’t mean drag him back too far, just get him comfortable, off the bridle as quickly as possible, but covered up. See no daylight. Don’t produce him until very late. Keep him happy and melted in your hands.
Red Letter Day. Frontrunners are dangerous and vulnerable all at the same time in Colonial Cup. Bust out of there running, make them think you’re going too fast for a fence or two, and then get him back. Then think breathers every step, sneak in moments where he gets to take a deep breath, sneak away coming out of turns, save ground, make sure every horse comes around you. No horse should get up the inside, even if you’re faltering, make sure they come around. If you have to let somebody go, you might have to sit and allow others to move too soon. Don’t get caught up thinking you have to be in front the whole way. Enjoy the view as you head down the back.
Tax Ruling. Much of the race’s tactics start and stop with you. It’s in your hands when you turn up the heat on Red Letter Day and others on the lead. Don’t get in a hurry, you’ve got first run on others, wait and time it to perfection depending on how you’re traveling, how they’re traveling in front of you and how they’re traveling behind you. Your call, your move.
Sweet Shani. Looks like she simply gallops so another one with a tough question of when to go. Do you go after Red Letter Day or do you sit and wait, risking a sprint home? Tough. Get her jumping well, galloping resolutely and decide when to make the move. Watch for the fools who get in a hurry on the turn, don’t be one of them. You’re good enough.
Zozimus. Ride for fourth money. Don’t even consider winning the race, simply ride like you’re going for fourth money, just pick up a check for your owner. Chill. Wait. Relax. Don’t swing out in stretch, the stretch opens up on its own. Ride for fourth, like you’re giving the horse a race and you might be third, if everything falls apart in front of you, maybe better. Stamina is his game.
Spy In The Sky. At the mercy of the Gods. One-dimensional horse, sit out the back and come with one mad flourish. Hope they go fast in front of you and all your peers think the wire’s at the last. Be careful of traffic, but don’t pull out until you need to get out. Get your short ones early so you’re not jumping into the back of others, keep him happy and chilled until it’s time to pounce.
Chess Board. A mighty task. Breaking from the outside so get in as early as you can, be sure you’re saving ground by first turn and then see what happens. Stay out of trouble, another one to ride for fourth money and maybe you’ll get a check.
Of course, I never won the Colonial Cup in 13 years of trying.