Schuylerville recap: Both sides of the coin

- -

Schuylerville favorite Ocean Colors wobbled to a stop, spread-legged just past the finish of the 6-furlong Opening Day stakes. The previously undefeated daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors emptied to finish last, and then felt the pangs of the effort. Her legs looked like four poles holding up a sagging tent as the early evening rain pelted her. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi slipped the bridle from her muddy head. Trainer Steve Asmussen helped dump buckets of water over her back. Chief veterinarian Dr. Anthony Verderosa choreographed and analyzed the hectic scene.

  All while Asmussen’s other runner, Jardin, sauntered to the winner’s circle.

That’s life as a horse trainer – two runners, one in the winner’s circle, the other in distress.

Padua Stables’ Jardin handled the sloppy going better than her eight rivals, skipping to a 4-length score over Cameron Crazies (Julien Leparoux) and Girlfrienontheside (Cornelio Velasquez).

Ocean Colors broke sharply under Shaun Bridgmohan and did what she had to do from her rail spot, gunning to a short lead on the congested field through a quarter mile in 22.44 seconds. Aboard Jardin for the first time, Robby Albarado knew in three jumps she was handling the surface, then just looked around to see who wasn’t. The first one he saw was Ocean Colors, then Cameron Crazies, then second choice Collegiate.

“The best way to describe the race is she was one of them who really handled it well. You never know what to expect with 2-year-olds, but Steve thought she might handle it, the way her action is in the morning. She’s got a deer-like action,” Albarado said. “She didn’t break good, but she positioned herself right where I wanted to be. About the third or fourth jump, I knew – she grabbed the bit and tugged on me. A good tug, one of those aggressive tugs.”

 Outside and untouched, Jardin stalked in third while Ocean Colors plummeted from first to fifth and then last. Edgar Prado shoved second-choice Collegiate through on the rail and opened up a short-lived lead turning for home.

“I could see Bridge struggling with Ocean Colors and Cameron Crazies is a nice filly but I always had her,” Albarado said. “Edgar ran up on the inside, but he was in a tough spot the whole way, that’s like running on the edge of the ocean.”

After a half in 46.97, Jardin rolled off the turn and dispatched Collegiate and Cameron Crazies to draw off to a comfortable victory in the Grade III stakes. A Florida-bred daughter of Montbrook, Jardin completed the 6 furlongs in 1:12.79 to earn the winner’s share of the $112,900 purse.

Asmussen picked up the overnight for Wednesday and thought he knew polar opposite – Ocean Colors drew the inside post, Jardin drew the outside post – nine fillies in between. After the race, his gut knew polar opposite.

“It’s a crazy deal. Saratoga and you’ve got two fillies coming off impressive maiden wins and the overnight comes out and you’re the 1 and the 11,” Asmussen said. “I was very worried with Jardin because she doesn’t break extremely sharp and usually you get yourself caught four- or five-wide here and it eliminates you. But it ended up being the place to be today.”

Asmussen needed to be in two places at the same time after the Schuylerville. He tended to Ocean Colors and then switched places – and moods – to pose for the win picture. After that, he hustled his way through the grandstand to get back to the barn.

“It’s certainly bittersweet,” Asmussen said. “It appears she’s tying up, I guess she didn’t like the going. She looked like she was on the lead very easily the first eighth of a mile but Shaun said she came out of the bridle before anything happened, before anything came to her. She just wasn’t herself and he let her lope in. I hope it’s just her fighting the going.”

Asmussen runs a lot of entries and has grown accustomed to seeing two horses, two very different results.

 “Yay and boo,” Asmussen said. “You go back and check on the winner and the other filly, and then hope everything is all right.”