Some losses feel like victories. Sunshine Beach’s race in the Breeders Crown final for three-year-old pacing colts was one of those for co-owner Tony Infilise.
Having started from Post 8 and having raced on the outside and without cover for the entire mile, Sunshine Beach fell just a neck short against Captaintreacherous in the $500,000 final Saturday at Pocono Downs.
“At the half-mile pole, I felt sick. At the end, I was tremendously exhilarated by the effort and talent he showed. I think he’s as good as any horse right now, including ‘The Captain.’ The Captain’s a great horse, but we have an outstanding one as well,” said Infilise, head of the Quebec Jockey Club, whose best previous result in the ‘Crown’ was a third-place finish by Shanghai Phil (now an Ontario-based stallion) in the final for two-year-old pacing colts in 2004.
Infilise said Sunshine Beach’s unfortunate draw might have been a byproduct of bad racing luck a week earlier in the elimination. Sunshine Beach was leading in that race when he jumped over an obstacle on the track – a head number lost by another entrant on the first turn – losing momentum and then the lead to elim winner Lucan Hanover.
When Sunfire Blue Chip shot to the front in the final, “that made it difficult for us, given where we were,” Infilise said. “John (Campbell, the diver), looked for a hole, didn’t get one, and I thought ‘oh my God, we’re in deep trouble.’ But he kept advancing and trying. You don’t see horses have trips like that in races of that calibre and still be there at the end. We expected a rough trip, but that’s as rough as they come. Michel Lachance told me after it’s so rare to see a horse fight like that with that kind of mile. He made a lot of fans on Saturday, and it was a good place to do it, because future decisions about breeding get made there.”
Sunshine Beach still has the Progress and Matron Pace on his schedule for this year, and the plan is to return to race at age four. Trained by Mark Steacy, Sunshine Beach has earned almost $700,000 this season for owners Infilise, Conrad Leber of Montreal and Diane Bertrand of Edmonton, and is still the only horse to have beaten Captaintreacherous this year, in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine.
(A Trot Insider exclusive by Paul Delean)