Dec. 27, 2006 — Heart at Risk, the retiring former champion of the Virgin Islands, came to the Randall Doc James racetrack on Tuesday hoping go out with a bang by winning the $6,000 purse of the TRAXCO-sponsored 1/1-8 mile feature race.
It was not to be, however, as the younger horses proved to be just a bit too much for Teddy Brows 10-year-old dark bay gelding. With jockey Juan Oyola in the irons, Heart at Risk gave his all as usual but could muster nothing more than a five-lengths, last-place finish in the four-horse field.
The day instead belonged to Gallego. With the top two challengers from St. Thomas, Wauwinet and Vivid Cat, scratched from the race, it turned out to be a three-horse affair from the start.
It was an even break, but Heart at Risk dropped back almost immediately.
The other horses — Danzig Mon, with jockey Kerwin John in the irons; Gallego, with Kevin Krigger aboard; and Gins Dancer with jockey Juan Bisono — went by the grandstand for the first time in a line, three across the track. The three continued their fight down the backstretch with Danzig Mon holding a very slight lead.
Midway down the back stretch, a roar went up as, to the delight of his fans, the old warrior, Heart at Risk, began to reel in the front-runners.
He would get to within a length of the pack, but his big charge soon fizzled along with the hopes of his fans as they realized that their champion would not go out as they had hoped.
Meanwhile, the top three were having an exciting go at it as they entered the far turn still tightly bunched. At the turn for home it appeared that Gallego, Mitchell Figueroas chestnut gelding, was having the better turn of foot as he took the lead, but the other challengers were not done yet.
At one point, again, it appeared as if Gallego would draw off after opening up a one-length lead as they battled down the stretch, but with Danzig Mon fading just a bit nearing the finish, Gins Dance took up the challenge. He was closing inch by inch as they approached the wire, but was not coming nearly fast enough as Gallego was able to hold on to win by a long neck in a time of 1:53.1.
I really was not concerned about the results because I felt we would win said Gallego jockey Krigger. "What surprised me was that he wanted to run up front today. I know I needed him to relax, and since I specialize in getting horses to relax, I was able to get him to and it all worked out good."
Heart at Risk trainer, Steve Brow, certainly wasn't disappointed by his horse's effort. Anything we got from Heart in this later stage of his life is icing on the cake, he said. When we bought him, the man who we got him from in New York told me that because of his age, not to expect too much from him; and that maybe we could probably get 10 good races out of him. Well this, I think was his 36th start, and he won 23 of those starts for us; so he definitely exceeds all expectations.
Heart At Risks final record at a glance:
35 starts, 23 wins, six seconds, two thirds and only three finishes out of the money. His 23 first-place finishes included seven stakes wins, listed in chronological order:
1. Sept. 1, 2003 — Munster Handicap
2. Dec. 26, 2003 — Cruzan Rum Handicap
3. April 30, 2004 — St. Thomas Carnivals Governors Cup
4. May 5, 2004 — Mr. West Handicap
5. Dec. 11, 2005 — Boydon Inc. of St. John Handicap (St. Thomas)
6. Dec. 26, 2005 — V.I. Lottery Handicap
7. July 4, 2006 — John de Jongh Handicap
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