Condo Commando "splashtastic" in G1 Spinaway; Tom Durkin goes out in style
By Sean Morris | 08/31/2014 07:49 PM ET
"Condo Commando was splashtastic!" belted NYRA race caller Tom Durkin as his illustrious career came to a close with Condo Commando's win in the 123rd running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway in a driving rainstorm on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.
Durkin received raucous applause from the adoring Spa crowd as he walked down the steps of the grandstand and into the winner's circle following the Spinaway, and after a ceremony befitting one of racing's most iconic figures, was driven off in the bed of a pickup truck on the Saratoga main track and hurled T-shirts into the crowd.
True to Durkin's call, Condo Commando, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, relished the sloppy surface in the Spinaway - a seven-furlong fixture for 2-year-old fillies. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful was left at the back of the pack after a troubled beginning, but was rushed up along the rail by jockey Joe Bravo to lead the field through fractions of 22.46 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.89 for the half. The Michael Dubb-owned filly had already amassed a sizeable advantage by the time the field turned for home, and poured it on in the stretch to win by a widening 13 ¼ lengths.
Condo Commando, who was offered for a $75,000 tag in her unveiling on August 3 at the Spa - which she won by 12 lengths - completed the distance in 1:24.68.
"My biggest concern was trying to get out of the gate, and she overcame that and look what she did," said Bravo. "Our main concern was to try to get in front. We don't want a lot of dirt to hit her in the face. She overpowered everybody. Really, the race was won the first eighth of a mile. She won first time out pretty impressively, but you didn't know how good she is. I think today she answered a lot of questions."
With the winner's purse of $180,000, Condo Commando enhanced her bankroll to $213,600, and returned $8.70 on a $2 win wager.
"When I saw the slop, I thought we were in trouble from the No. 1 hole, and she didn't break good," said Rodriguez. "She did it easy, though. She wasn't 100 percent fit for her debut, but she was much better today. I just hope she comes back good. She's a nice filly."
By the Moon - trained by Michelle Nevin for Jay Em Ess Stable - checked in second, six lengths clear of 8-5 favorite Angela Renee in third.
"[Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] seemed to think she struggled with the surface," said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Angela Renee, who was second in the Grade 2 Adirondack earlier in the meet. "She couldn't really get a hold of it, but she tried hard in spite of that."
It was 6 ¼ lengths back to Darling Sky in fourth, and Winter Dawn, Lady Zuzu, Ryabinka, and Bonnie K completed the order of finish. Curalina was scratched the morning of the race.