Hollywood has “The Longest Yard.” Now Santa Anita has “The Longest Photo.”
After an interminable amount of time–perhaps more than five minutes–as fans waited with the anticipation of an expectant father, results of a photo finish from Saturday's Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf were posted, showing 9-1 outsider Ohio the winner by the narrowest of noses over 4-5 favorite Catapult.
While it was the toughest of beats for the connections of Catapult, it was a feel-good story for those of Ohio, trainer Michael McCarthy and owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Bruce Treitman, but most of all 21-year-old jockey Ruben Fuentes, who was riding in his first Grade I race.
“My initial reaction was we got beat,” was the assessment Sunday morning from McCarthy, who gained international acclaim for his masterful preparation of City of Light in winning the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
“I was very pleased that Ohio showed up and ran like that. But after about two or three minutes of waiting for the photo, I felt they were taking an awfully long time to look at it–maybe it could be a dead-heat.
“After about five minutes, I thought, 'This is nice. I don't think they'll make anybody a loser here,' and then when they eventually flashed his number (two), I was in total shock. I couldn't believe it. Both horses ran too good to lose.
“I'm very pleased for Ruben. He's a nice young man, comes out here and tries his best every day, is very polite and seems dedicated to his craft, so it's good to be able to team up with someone like him.”
Ditto for Fuentes' agent, 29-year-old Tijuana native Saul Marquez, who has been booking mounts for 12 years, the last two for the 21-year-old Fuentes, who hails from El Paso.
“He's the hardest worker,” Marquez said. “He never says no, always has a smile on his face and I think this is the start of a long and successful career. It runs in the family, because Ruben's father, Miguel, also rides. He's known as the Mike Smith of Mexico City.
“Waiting for that photo yesterday was very nerve wracking, but very rewarding.”
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