With undefeated Cure The Blues sidleined by a minor injury, today's Bahamas Stakes gave the owners of three other colts an opportunity to feel optomistic about the spring classics.
Well Decorated won the seven-furlong event at Hialeah by a nose over Dash O' Pleasure, and the highly regarded Tap Shoes missed by only a neck after a strong stretch run. It is likely, however, that one small nail kept all of them from being obliterated.
Cure The Blues had been shod about two weeks ago, as trainer LeRoy Jolley prepared him for his first start of 1981. One of the nails was driven slightly too high into his right front foot, where he had suffered from other ailments last season.
"He became tender," Jolley said. "Today we removed the nail we thought was the guilty one and he showed 95 percent relief immediately." Owner Bert Firestone hinted that the colt's first start would come in the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on March 22.
In Cure The Blues' absence, the Bahamas became a competitive, exciting race. Well Decorated, who was making his first start since a successful 2-year-old season, stalked two dueling leaders along the backstretch and swung outside them on the turn.
As he did, he swung into Dash 'O Pleasure and almost knocked him sideways. Through the stretch, the two of them were jostling each other with every stride.
The colts hit the wire together in 1:22 1/5, and after Well Decorated's number went up, jockey Craig Perret claimed foul against Don McBeth who rode the winner. The claim was allowed.
Although the top two finishers both ran with determination, Tap Shoes was the most promising horse in the Bahamas field. He had won major stakes as a 2-year-old, and trainer Loratio Luro has been preparing him all winter with the Kentucky Derby in mind.
He thought that today's seven-furlong distance would probably be too short for his colt, yet Tap Shoes closed with resolution, and would have caught the leaders in a few more strides.