At Monmouth Park today, as rain fell straight down, the 2007 Breeders Cup got off to a sentimental start with one of those rags-to-riches stories so loved by this mostly-riches sport. In the opener, a Canadian-bred 6-year-old longshot, Maryfield, made a churning late charge through the mud, past all the famous favorites, to win the $1.1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.
One of her three co-owners is Hollywood movie caterer Nick Mestrandrea. Nick catered for "Seabiscuit" and got bit by the horse-racing bug after chatting with jockey Gary Stevens between takes. Right away Nick wanted to buy a horse, but he wasn't exactly in the oil-rich sheikh league of buyers, so he went the bargain-basement Seabiscuit route and got himself a $10,000 claimer. Maryfield was his second claim, for $50,000. The fact that she'd gone down in class to claiming level showed that her record wasn't exactly brilliant. Something like 8 wins in 27 starts. But her new owners and trainer saw something that everybody else had missed, and today Maryfield gave them the big return on their modest investment. Nick was the picture of TV happiness -- screaming and jumping up and down. I'll bet every caterer in the business was watching that race today. Extra bagels and Chardonnay for all.
Just to recap my LGBT horse breeder history that Outsports posted the other day -- if you follow Maryfield's pedigree back 30+ generations into 17th century England, you find Bald Peg and the Helmsley Turk -- owned by that colorful non-heterosexual world-champion party animal George Villiers. --Patricia Nell Warren