Braulio Baeza
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Wajima Strikes Back

The Thoroughbred Record

September 2, 1975

The subject of some derisive comments when he was sold as a yearling for a world-record $600,000; the subject of some derisive comments when he won just two races as a juvenile last year; the subject of some derisive comments this year, even after winning three consecutive stakes, including back-to-back hundred-granders in the Monmouth Invitational Handicap (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1); Wajima is turning the tables on those who took his abilities lightly.

The big bay's connections have accepted this continuing criticism with unparalleled equanimity, secure in the knowledge that they had a truly outstanding horse on their hands. But it must have been especially galling for Jim Scully, who purchased the son of Bold Ruler on behalf of East-West Stable, and for Steve DiMauro, who has trained the colt with consummate skill, to read or hear after the Monmouth Invitational that Wajima had beaten a mediocre field, and after the Travers, that things would have been different had Foolish Pleasure and Forceten been in the race.

On Labor Day (September 1) in Belmont Park's 1 1/8-mile Govenor Stakes (G1), Wajima took on what must be considered the finest field assembled for any race to date this year, and he beat them. He beat them with the kind of drive through the stretch that horsemen mention when they talk of great races of the past and present.

In the final furlong, (jockey Braulio) Baeza drove and drove as Wajima slowly, ever so slowly, cut into Foolish Pleasure's lead. Mere yards from the wire, Wajima was on even terms with Foolish Pleasure, who was fighting back with all the heart in him. Then, just before the wire, Wajima got his head in front to win in 1:47 1/5. It was a dead-game race for both horses. . .Ancient Title finished third, two lengths behind Foolish Pleasure and a half-length in front of Forego.

The first four, along with Step Nicely, who finished fifth in the Govenor, have all been invited to the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap (G1), September 13, where Wajima should pick up weight and the others may get some knocked off. At any rate, the Govenor served as an interesting preview for the Marlboro Cup and should have silenced Wajima's detractors once and for all.

WebPage Note: Wajima did win the Marlboro over the favored Forego, covering the 1 1/4 mile in 2:00.

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