October 31, 2021: Going to Vegas, entered in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and trained by Richard Baltas, exercises during the morning training session for Breeders’ Cup 2021on October 31, 2021 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, California. Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup
When Richard Baltas-trained Going to Vegas won the Grade 2, $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes on Sept. 4, it was estimated that around 250 people – owners or friends of owners of the three partnership groups involved with the 4-year-old daughter of Goldencents – wedged into the winner’s circle for the post-race picture and trophy ceremony.
It’s easy to imagine what the scene might be if Going to Vegas would prevail in Saturday’s $2 million Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf.
Oh, the humanity!
No! The humanity won’t be quite as numerous, said Bing Bush, founder and manager of Abbondanza Racing, one of the three partnership organizations involved.
“That was a bit of a concern,” Bush conceded. “But you can’t get in the winner’s circle unless you have a lanyard and I think we have 30 lanyards apiece for each of the three groups. So it’ll be down from 200 or so to 90.”
The John C. Mabee, at 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, turned out to be the middle leg, albeit an important one, on Going to Vegas’ hop, step and jump into participation in racing’s championship weekend.
Hop: The former $50,000 claimer won an allowance over the Mabee course on July 16, opening day of the summer meeting.
Step: The victory, by 2 ¼ lengths over Dogtag in the Mabee, which brought with it a $120,000 share of the purse, but was not a be-all for the connections. Going to Vegas was not made eligible as a foal for the Breeders’ Cup and the daunting prospect of having to pay a six-figure supplemental entry fee remained.
Jump: The Grade 1, 1 ¼-mile Rodeo Drive on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita was a “Win & You’re In” fees paid qualifier for the Filly & Mare Turf, and Going to Vegas went wire-to-wire under Umberto Rispoli, holding off Luck by a head.
So, on Sunday morning, Bush and some friends watched from the two-story temporary structure along the stretch as Going to Vegas went four furlongs in :49.20 in her final work for Saturday’s race.
“Sometimes at the end of a work she tends to lug in a little bit, but today she didn’t,” Bush said. “She did it very easily and galloped out very nicely, so we couldn’t be happier.”
And on Monday, Bush and friends gathered in the Del Mar paddock for the post position draw for all 14 Breeders’ Cup races to see Going to Vegas get the No. 1 post and be assigned morning line odds of 12-1.
“Under normal circumstances, I would be disappointed with the No. 1,” Bush said. “But under these circumstances, I think it’s all right. She’ll be able to use her natural speed to get a good position – she doesn’t have to have the lead, but she might — and go from there.”
Bush resides in the complex of white houses on the hillside north of and overlooking the track just across Via de la Valle.
“I can walk here,” he points out.
If Going to Vegas pulls off an upset on Saturday, Bush – and 90 lanyard-wearers in the filly’s camp – will be walking on air to the winner’s circle. It won’t be like the John C. Mabee. But they won’t mind.
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