2 OP The OP Handicap (GII)
$1,000.000 4yo&Up 1 1/8m Dirt Handicap Weights
The OP Handicap (GII) was a real mystery to my handicapping eye and after the results were posted, I think we see why. Air Show, trained by Mb Stables and sent off at 33/1 odds, stayed close to a quick early pace, moved up as that speed calmed down a bit, then went on to win by a head over the fast closing Phooeys Queen Blue. Nakamura Stables’ Shanghai bounced back from his last place finish in the SA Handicap to secure the third spot. The final running time was 1:47.69 on a fast track.
The full field of twelve got away from the starting gate with long-shot People Doubted out quickly from the far outside, Shanghai inside of Dastardly Havoc, Combat Wombat behind that trio, Champion In Action on his flank and Air Show to the inside. Never Met Me was next, Phooeys Queen Blue on the rail, Dauzac between horses with Nav Man on his inside, Chrystal Believer on his outside and So Profound was the early trailer.
They made their way around the clubhouse turn and moved towards the long run down the back stretch with six furlongs to run, People Doubted continued to show the way by a length and a half. Shanghai on the rail and giving chase, Dastardly Havoc just in behind that one, then a gap of two to the trio of Air Show along the rail, Combat Wombat between horses and Champion In Action three wide. Another length back to Never Met me, Nav Man three wide, Phooeys Queen Blue to his inside, another length to So Profound four wide, Dauzac next to that one and Chrystal Believer saving ground and the back marker.
Down the back side and into the far turn, then went past the three eighths marker and People Doubted was still in front by a length. Shanghai inched up on the inside, another length and a half to Air Show, Dastardly Havoc on his outside, then a length and a half to Never Met Me skimming the paint, Combat Wombat on his outside, Champion In Action three wide, then a length to Phooeys Queen Blue, So Profound still wide, another length to Chrystal Believer on the rail, Nav Man three wide and Dauzac was now at the back of the pack, eight lengths separating them.
Around the far turn and into the land with slightly more than a furlong to run… not much changed except they were bunching up for the sprint to the finish. People Doubted by a half length, Shanghai cut the corner and continued to press forward, Dastardly Havoc four wide and a clear path, Air Show to his inside and trying to find more, Never Met Me now inching forward with Combat Wombat, Phooeys Queen Blue, Champion In Action and So Profound fanned out for the drive. The last trio had a ton of
work to do and not much time to get it done.
Deep stretch and to the finish… six across the track. It was a battle to the finish with any one of them having a shot to get the wins, it was just who get get their nose down on the wire and as they hit the wire it was a blur of horseflesh and the bright colors of the silks and the PHOTO light went up on the infield tote board.
After viewing the photograph, Air Show was able to get a head in front late and take the victory. Phooeys Queen Blue was a head better than Shanghai for the place, then a nose back to Dastardly Havoc in fourth. People Doubted was a nose back in fifth, So Profound in sixth, Never Met Me seventh, Combat Wombat eighth, Dauzac ninth, Nav Man tenth, Champion In Action eleventh and Chrystal Believer closed this one out.
Air Show is a 7yo gelded son of Afian – Barely Winter, by Flaming Pretense, and he was bred in KY by Team 7 Illusions. Acquired by Mb stables via the hostile takeover for $75.000 back in Apr of 2018, he now has twelve wins from forty-seven starts and shows lifetime earnings of $1,480.230. The old boy doesn’t seem ready to head off to Old Friends quite yet.
$2 Mutuel Prices:
|4 – Air Show||68.60||25.90||24.90|
|1 – Phooeys Queen Blue||9.10||5.80|
|8 – Shanghai||5.00|
Track: Fast Time: :464 1:101 1:344 1:473
$1 Exacta: 4 – 1 Paid 250.00 $1 Trifecta: 4 – 1 – 8 Paid 1,559.80
Air Show away well, settled in behind the early pace while unhurried, rallied when asked, all out to the finish, won driving. Phooeys Queen Blue was taken back after the start and allowed to move at one pace, steady gain into the lane, finished full of run, missed in a head-bob. Shanghai broke alertly and tracked the pace setter, cut the corner, out finished. Dastardly Havoc wide trip, good effort. People
Doubted broke sharply, led to the furlong marker, could not go on. So Profound raced well off of the early pace, best foot too late. Never Met Me raced mid-pack to the far turn, improved position to be in striking distance, no further response. Combat Wombat evenly while not a threat. Dauzac trailed, some late action while no threat. Nav Man was not involved. Champion In Action mid pack early, steady retreat. Chrystal Believer gave a dull effort.