Third time the charm for pricey Special Intention
by Frank Vespe
In his first two starts, Special Intention hadn’t finished ahead of a single horse while defeated by a combined total of more than 32 lengths.
It wasn’t exactly the start owners Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr. or trainer Mark Reid had envisioned when they dropped $500,000 to obtain the three-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt as a yearling.
Today at Laurel Park, added ground, a change in tactics, and easier company did the trick as Special Intention broke his maiden in a head-bobbing finish over Junonia. It was another two lengths back to Crime Lab in third. Running time for the $40,000 maiden special weight test over a flat mile on a turf course rated good was 1:39.36.
Under top jockey Alex Cintron, Special Intention broke alertly to stalk the pace of speedy Griff’s Ghost. He took the lead approaching the quarter-pole and gamely held off Junonia the rest of the way.
“We told Alex that he could run. We all know he can run,” said Reid’s assistant, Benny Feliciano. “We just hadn’t seen it in the afternoon. We got lucky we got the outside post today. I said, ‘Alex, get this son of a gun to the lead.'”
In his first two starts, both against maiden special weight rivals in New York, Special Intention had been well back at the first call, bedeviled by trouble getting out of the gate. Those issues served to mask the talent Feliciano said the team had seen in the mornings. Prior to today’s race, Special Intention’s last four works had all been the fastest at the distance on that given day.
And he was bred to be a runner. Special Intention is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Summer Soiree.
Largely ignored by the betting public, Special Intention paid $26 to win and topped an exacta worth $178.40.
“Mark (Reid) said if we put him in going longer, it would make it easier for him to make the lead,” explained Feliciano. “Sprinting, we had to send him and he’d get behind, he was kind of throwing his head when he got behind.”
Today he was able to relax in a good stalking spot while in the clear. The pace was moderate — 1:14.25 for six furlongs. When challengers came, he had something in reserve.
“You see the difference in horses when they get things their way,” Feliciano said. “Now he’s got the race under him. I feel like he’ll go forward because we knew he had talent in the morning. It just took a little bit to get it out of him.
“I’ll tell you what, it makes everybody in the barn feel good.”