ELMONT, N.Y. - Pat Day and Wally Dollase, jockey and trainer of Ten Most Wanted, expected to win the Kentucky Derby. Their hopes vanished quickly when the horse stumbled out of the gate, got bumped twice and finished ninth.
The colt hurt his back, and it took a chiropractor to repair the damage. Yesterday, in the Belmont, Day and Dollase hoped to get their reward - and they nearly succeeded.
Ten Most Wanted challenged Empire Maker down the stretch but fell three quarters of a length short, finishing second. Still, his connections were delighted and sounded nearly as if they had won.
"I was so impressed with his effort, considering he had never been on this kind of racetrack and had never been a mile and a half," Dollase said. "Didn't he run a great race?
"But he wasn't going to beat the winner today. The best horse won. That horse is impeccably bred and is a beautiful animal, and he deserved to win it."
Day was particularly high on Ten Most Wanted before the Derby.
"My horse didn't get much out of the Derby," Day said. "Wally has done an outstanding job with this horse. He came into this race looking like a million dollars. I could only be happier if we had gotten our picture taken [in the winner's circle]."
Jose Santos, who rode Funny Cide, was gracious in defeat. Asked whether he would have changed anything about the race if he could have, he said: "I'd have kept Mother Nature away."
Despite his claim that Funny Cide struggled on the sloppy surface, he said he was appreciative of the crowd support.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "We had a hundred thousand people screaming for Funny Cide. I've never seen a horse get beat and the people were still cheering for him."
Conversely, some patrons booed Empire Maker when he returned to the winner's circle.
Out of the money
Dynever, who finished fourth, lacked the closing kick that had marked his four previous races. He had never faced this caliber of horses.
"He just didn't have the kind of acceleration like he had last time," said Edgar Prado, his jockey. "The track was a little slippery. He handled it, but he was not crazy about it."
Said Christophe Clement, Dynever's trainer: "The best horse won; it was a clean race. I thought my horse was going great, but at the three-eighths pole he had nowhere to go. We'll be back and try again."
Supervisor beat one horse, and he had to come from way back to do that.
"I was so far back I didn't know where I was," said John Velazquez, his jockey. "He just wasn't moving anywhere. Every step of the way I was scrubbing and scrubbing on him, and I tapped him on the shoulder. He finally started running at the quarter pole."
Scrimshaw faded to last after briefly battling Funny Cide for the lead.
Said Gary Stevens, Scrimshaw's jockey: "I had the best seat in the house to see the possibility of history being made. Jerry [Bailey] took [Funny Cide] on early, and I laid back. Jerry had [Funny Cide] intimidated on the rail, and he just had the best horse today."
A big betting day
The 101,864 patrons, the second-largest crowd in track history, set a single-day on-track betting record for the Belmont. They wagered $12,973,555. The record for on-track handle is $13,165,397, established on Breeders' Cup day in 2001. Betting from all sources yesterday was $92,584,249. That fell short of last year's Belmont day record of $95,443,037.
"Today's crowd showed their loyalty and passion for the sport, coming out early and staying late in what had to be one of the worst weather days for any major day in the history of thoroughbred racing," said Terry Meyocks, president and chief operating officer of the New York Racing Association.
Overall betting on the Belmont set a record of $48,081,346 for a six-horse field in North America.