When jockey Jeremy Rose and his mount Arcata passed the finish line yesterday in the $80,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap for older horses at Laurel Park, the jockey was steaming.
"I didn't think I'd won, and I was [peeved]," said Rose, who rode back to watch the replay of the photo finish between Arcata and Eddie C. and learned he actually had won - by a head bob. "I had told [the horse] we had the race won if he'd just keep running. He has a tendency to wait for the other horses when he gets the lead. When I saw our number at the top of the board, I went from agitated to happy."
It was Arcata's first stakes race. And it was so close that Arcata's assistant trainer, Alice Coapham, said that after watching the replay, "I still didn't know if we'd won."
Eddie C's jockey, J.D. Acosta, was stunned.
"I don't know what to say," Acosta said. "I thought we won it, and so did Jeremy."
The 4-year-old gray-roan has won four of his past five races, all with Rose aboard. Two of those wins have been by a nose. Arcata is trained at the Fair Hill Training Center by Graham Motion, who yesterday was in Dubai, where his horse, Better Talk Now, finished ninth in the 16-horse Sheema Classic.
Arcata, the longest shot in the five-horse field at Laurel Park, paid $10, $3.60 and $2.40. Eddie C., trained by Chris Grove, was the betting favorite and paid $4 and $3. Forty Crowns, 9 3/4 lengths back, paid $3 for third.
Sired by Wagon Limit, Arcata broke well and then rated off the pace on the inside, staying just behind early leader Forty Crowns as they approached the second turn in the 1 1/8 -mile race.
"Eddie C. was a little strong entering the first turn, and I could see he was fighting his jock a little more than usual," said Rose, who will ride Roman Emperor in the Wood Memorial on Saturday. "I just decided to sit back. Eddie C. made his move at the three-eighths pole, and that was too soon for me. I had to let him go. Luckily, I came back to beat him."firstname.lastname@example.org