John Veitch has one incurable weakness as a thoroughbred trainer. He loves to push horses too fast, too soon, into spots where they are over their heads.
So when Veitch entered Script Ohio in the Young America Stakes at the Meadowlands, his detractors shook their heads and said, "There he goes again." The colt had won only a weak maiden race and had been trounced by 18 lengths in his only stakes try.
But tonight Veitch looked like a genius. His colt, dismissed by the bettors at 37 to 1, came from last place and won the $500,000 event going away.
He scored by three-quarters of a length over Spend A Buck, with Tank's Prospect third and Rhoman Rule fourth.
Spend A Buck came into this race as the sentimental favorite as well as the even-money betting choice. Sold for $12,500, he had graduated from tracks like Calder and River Downs, compiled a five-for-six record, and was now ready for the big time.
And for much of tonight's race, he looked like a winner. Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. sent him to the lead immediately, and he outran another good speedster, Bionic Light. When that challenger had weakened on the turn, Rhoman Rule started to make what looked like a winning move, but he couldn't sustain it and Spend A Buck still maintained a clear advantage.
But jockey Eddie Maple now had Script Ohio in gear, after trailing the field by more than 20 lengths in the early stages. The colt swooped three wide around the turn and finally collared the tiring leader in the last sixteenth of a mile.
As he did, Spend A Buck seemed to jump a shadow, and, Cordero said, "He would have won if he didn't jump that spot. I don't know what it was -- maybe the tire tracks near the gate was. But he lost all his momentum. The other horse was running and mine was jumping."
Script Ohio covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45 flat. The time wasn't impressive, but his stretch-running style will give him the status of a serious contender for next spring's 3-year-old classics. Certainly, Veitch will be thinking that way.