“Bet the longest shot on the board in a 5-horse field and bet the gray horses in the mud.”
Things that grandfather used to say, that only seemed to come true after you’d brushed them off loudly as old wives tales in front of everyone at the track who would listen.
The rains didn’t appear until the third race at Assiniboia Downs on Friday night, so while two gray horses won, only one of them did so over a sloppy track. That one, however, is just a little bit famous.
The winner of the fourth race at ASD on Friday night was Lucky Bites, a 5-year-old gray gelding who was winning for the first time in his life after three starts. He hadn’t run for two years. That in itself is a credit to his trainer Roger Hansen, one of the sharpest horsemen you’ll ever see in these parts. Owned by Roger’s wife Shirley and groomed by their son Tyler, Lucky Bites was last seen in an actual race at Golden Gate Fields in California on April 24, 2010.
It’s tough enough to get a horse ready to win after a winter holiday, let alone two years off, but Hansen likely had a little extra horse to work with this time.
Lucky Bites is by Argentine-bred Candy Ride out of the mare Carlotta Maria by Irish-bred sire Caro. That makes him a half-brother to Maria’s Mon, North America’s Champion 2-year-old of 1995, who also happens to be the sire of two Kentucky Derby winners, Monarchos (2001) and Super Saver (2010).
Dam Carlotta Maria was unplaced in two starts, but her sire Caro won three Group 1 races in Europe and set a new course record at Longchamp for 2100 meters while winning the 1971 Prix Ganay. Caro was even more successful in the breeding shed, where he sired 78 stakes winners including 1988 Kentucky Derby winning filly Winning Colors.
As a broodmare sire, as would be the case with Lucky Bites, Caro was even better, siring the dams of 134 stakes winners including 2000 Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet, 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song, and the aforementioned Maria’s Mon.
The sire of Lucky Bites, Candy Ride was a perfect 6-for-6 during his brief racing career. He was named Argentine Champion Miler in 2002 and later recorded the fastest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of 2003 in the United States when he won the 2003 Pacific Classic in track record time of 1:59.11. As a sire, Candy Ride’s most famous offspring to date are 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered and 2010 Santa Anita Derby winner Sydney’s Candy.
Of course, Lucky Bites only exists because of a monster thoroughbred with a strange mottled gray coat named The Tetrarch, who people laughed at as a “rocking horse” until he terrorized his competition with perfect 7–for-7 record in 1914 Europe. As a sire, The Tetrarch is widely regarded as the major reason that a once-weakening gray line of thoroughbreds still survives today.
We’re not sure if The Tetrarch could run in the slop, but his influence was certainly good enough 98 years later on a muddy Friday night in May, at Assiniboia Downs.
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