COURT VISION A GREAT BREEDERS’CUP STORY
The Breeders’ Cup has been filled with many “feel-good” stories during its illustrious 30-year history. One of the best may have occurred just a few years back in the Mile race at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Dale Romans has been known as a man that is not afraid to take a shot with a horse when he has a gut feeling. Having grown up at Churchill Downs, this Louisville native was eager to throw the veteran runner Court Vision into the fray for the 2011 Mile. After taking over the training of the six-year old in August, Romans evaluated the horse and decided he was ready for one last shot at big-time glory before running off to the breeding shed.
“He ran a deceptively good race in September in the Woodbine Mile and we just figured he had one more great race in him”, says Romans. “Robby Albarado had ridden him a lot during Court Vision’s career and told me the horse was training as well as he ever had. The Breeders’ Cup Mile field had its usual cast of big names, but we felt they all might be on the back end of their glory and the time would be right if we could keep Court Vision at the top of his game. We felt as though he was a horse headed in the right direction at the right time.”
Romans and his team were perhaps the only ones that felt that way about Court Vision. Entering the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile, this son of Gulch had 8 career wins in 30 lifetime starts and had not been to the winner’s circle since September of 2010. At six years old, most thought he was more than washed up and did not stand a chance against the likes of three-time defending Mile champ Goldikova and others such as Gio Ponti, Turallure, and Sydney’s Candy. Going to post at odds of 64-1, it was obvious no one thought Court Vision would be in sight at the finish line.
As the horses broke beneath the Twin Spires, Court Vision settled near the back of a tightly bunched pack of horses. Behind a rather modest pace, Romans’ runner kept race leader Get Stormy and 6-5 favorite Goldikova in his sights. As they turned for home the unthinkable began to take shape. Under jockey Robby Albarado, the longest shot on the board kicked to the outside and hit the gas. Running a huge race down the center of the track, Court Vision gobbled up ground and gained with every stride down the stretch. As he passed horse after horse and with the finish line drawing ever closer the unthinkable began to unfold. While passing a very game Goldikova and taking the lead inside the race’s final 60 yards, Court Vision was showing the rest of the world just why his trainer had put him there. With a hard charging Turallure to his outside, this grandson of Storm Bird continued his flight to immortality and crossed the finish line a nose in front.
The ridiculous had become a reality. As the second longest shot to ever win a Breeders’ Cup race, Court Vision had proven that in a race featuring the best of the best, anyone truly could win.
“You have to be a good horse to be in the Breeders’ Cup and that means any horse can win,” says Romans. “Often times some of these horses can get overlooked and that can make for some huge payouts if you like gambling on the races. There are a lot of opportunities and if you back a horse and he comes through you get paid.”
The payoff for Romans and his Court Vision team were huge that day and money had nothing to do with it. Beating the odds and the best in the world in this division with an afterthought of a Thoroughbred made for a very special moment.
“To win a Breeders’ Cup race in my hometown on my home track with a horse like that was really special,” says Romans. “Court Vision is one of the classiest horses I have been around and he will always hold a special spot for me. This was one of my most important victories for many reasons and it was very rewarding.”
With a $131.60 payout on a $2 wager, Romans was not the only one rewarded for his faith in Court Vision. The 2014 Breeders’ Cup will be run at Santa Anita on October 31 and November 1. Will there be another Court Vision in the ranks?…It’s a good bet there just might be.