Go figure. Uncharacteristic, a horse that was claimed for just $8,000 last fall, beat Myopic, a horse that was recently purchased for $200,000 in Saturday's $125,000 Canadian Derby at Century Mile.
"He's a lottery ticket," said Vancouver-based Uncharacteristic 's owner Adam Isfeld, who has only been involved in horse racing for about a year. It's all a little surreal right now."
As it should be. "It's beyond my wildest expectations. When we claimed him we never thought we were buying a Derby horse. It's the best $8,000 I've ever spent."
The mile and a quarter Canadian Derby was the second straight time that Uncharacteristic defeated Myopic. Five weeks ago Uncharacteristic did the same thing in Winnipeg's $100,000 mile and an eighth Manitoba Derby. "When we won the Manitoba Derby my trainer and good friend Robert VanOverschot told me this isn't normal," said Isfeld. "He said that when you buy a horse for $8,000 this isn't going to happen every time."
No kidding. In the Manitoba Derby - at odds of 5-1 - Uncharacteristic came from well off the pace to beat Myopic, who was sent off as the 3-5 favourite, by a length and a quarter. Saturday, sitting much closer to a relatively slow early pace with the first half going in 48.49 seconds and six furlongs unfolding in just 1:13.15 seconds, Uncharacteristic, who paid $9.20 to win, won by three-quarters of a length over Myopic.
Longshot Smart Play, who set the pace on the inside of Myopic, hung on well to finish third beaten by just a length. Bodemonster, who trailed the field early on a track that favoured early speed, finished fourth. Race favourite, Tony's Tapit, who came in with five straight wins, was fifth after being unruly heading into the first turn.
"Uncharacteristic is getting better every time I run him," said VanOverschot, who posted a much bigger upset when he won the Canadian Derby in 1990 with Hurricane Benny, who paid just under $50 to win. The way Uncharacteristic trains he'll run a mile and a half. He's an amazing animal. I worked him a mile a week ago and he came the last quarter in 23 seconds and change."
Getting away in fourth place, winning jockey Alexander Marti, sat patiently before moving up to hook Myopic and long shot Smart Play at the head of the stretch. "He broke well and I waited until the quarter pole," said Marti. "When I asked him he gave me everything he had."
Neither Myopic or Smart Play would give in as the trio battled heads apart down the stretch. But Uncharacteristic simply had a little bit more.
"When he makes the lead he waits for other horses to come at him," said VanOverschot. "He will not quit. He's got the biggest heart I've ever seen."
"The race set up the way we wanted it to be," said Isfeld, who claimed Uncharacteristic off of B.C. owner and trainer Glen Todd last September. "But it's still mind-blowing to me. I'm still a little bit shocked."
Saturday's Derby was only the sixth lifetime start for Uncharacteristic, who picked up $75,000 for the win, Myopic was only making his fifth career start. Moreover, Uncharacteristic is only the third horse Isfeld, who runs a car dealership in Vancouver, has ever owned.
"I never even went to the races until just over a year ago," said Isfeld, 50, who now owns eight horses. "Rob, who works for me at my dealership, would talk about horse racing. The more we talked the more interested I became. And I needed a new hobby. The first horse I bought was Ring of Kerry. We claimed him for $4,000 and he's won his last three starts."
But, of course, no Derbies. "It just shows you that any horse can get there," said Isfeld. "In horse racing you just never know."
STOCK REPORT - Wagering on Saturday's 10-race card was $1.5 million.
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