After a big effort to hold off Cyclone Dan in the second leg of the Marathon Series, Square Dancer took to the track as the morning line favourite for a competitive series finale. A last minute jockey change saw Enrique Gonzalez pick up the mount who made his Racing Clubs riding debut.
After a typically uneventful post-parade Dancer showed that old horses can, unfortunately in this case, learn new tricks. Ducking out of the inside gate, Dancer went perilously close to the rail and did well to recover and join the pack heading down the grandstand stretch for the first time.
Once settled Dancer was eager to try and join Absolutely Stylish, who had an unchallenged early lead. It was a tough assignment for Enrique to step in and ride given the relatively small field and nuances of the mile-and-a-half distance. His approach of sitting close enough to the leader to try to force an honest pace was likely the only way that Dancer could make it two wins in two.
Dancer was kept in a stalking position for much of the race, leaving the door open to try to make a late bid for the wire coming around the turn for home. Unfortunately the lack of pace on the head end had given Absolutely Stylish enough in the tank to come down the stretch comfortably, holding Dancer off by over four lengths. It was very much a two horse race, with another seven behind Dancer until third placed He’s Got Ego.
While we all hoped to see another win photo for Dancer, there was likely no change of tactics that would have made any difference to Sunday’s outcome given the quality of the pacesetting winner.
It has been a joy to watch him back to his normal competitive self in the last few races after fighting to get his race fitness up at the start of the season. The full paddock (on Thanksgiving Sunday, no less) showed just how much he continues to mean to the Club members.
After entering route races that failed to fill, Fast Bid finally got her third Club II race in an eight runner sprint event at the $6,250 claiming level. Although not an optimal distance, Bidder had surprised a few will her ability to sit off the pace last time out, so Club members were crossing their fingers that her versatility would again be on display.
Bidder has been ready to run for a while now, and there were early signs that she was ready to run when united with Romario Saunders in the paddock. In the early portion of the race, Bidder was again eager to get going, requiring Romario to take a firm hold of her going around the Clubhouse turn to prevent her pressing the leaders in a four-wide position.
When Bidder settled into fifth spot down the back stretch she looked to be moving into a good position to try and make an assault on the leading pack. Although momentarily edging her nose into third place at the top of the home stretch, the early eagerness had perhaps caused a bit of tiredness and although she finished the race gamely, didn’t have enough in the tank to hit the top three. The win photo went to the ultra-consistent Mousey Mousey who notched up her fifth win in 2019 and perhaps the Lower Level Claiming Horse of the year title at the same time.
Given her trip there may have been little possibility of a much better placing, but Clubbers will come out of the race knowing that with a better draw their filly appears perfectly able to compete with the hard knocking sprint mares at Hastings.