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Ex Mountain Cop makes Oregon Racing history on Championship Day

December 11, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

(photo by Portland Meadows)
By Patrick Kerrison
Ex Mountain Cop made Thoroughbred racing history Sunday, Dec. 10, at Portland Meadows by earning more money in one race than any other horse in the 60-year history of pari-mutuel wagering in the state of Oregon.

By winning Sunday’s $49,200 Os West Oregon Futurity, Ex Mountain Cop captured the lion’s share of the race purse plus the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association bonus of $30,000 resulting in the race winners’ share of $57,060.

That eclipses the $55,000 mark set by Present Value in 1989 when he and Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker won the $100,000 Coors Portland Meadows Mile – the first and only hundred grander run in the Beaver state.

“Amazing,” said winning trainer Jonathan Nance. “This is just amazing. I have been gunning for this bonus since its inception years ago. I am so happy right now.”

It was also the fourth consecutive stakes win for Ex Mountain Cop.

Breaking awkwardly then recovering quickly to speed clear to dictate terms, Ex Mountain Cop and rider Juan Gutierrez ran the first quarter in 23 seconds then the second quarter faster, in another 22 3/5 at 45 3/5 seconds.

“We didn’t break too well,” Gutierrez said after the dominating victory. “I wanted to make sure I got to the lead and had it to myself. Joe’s horse (He’sabigtalker) was a challenge early so I urged him to draw clear of him. That’s why we went a bit fast early on.”

Opening up by two lengths at the quarter, and then increasing it to four at the half, Nance started to feel a degree of relief at that point.

“I didn’t give Juan any instructions in the paddock beforehand,” the trainer said about the two-turn event. “He did a pretty good job getting him to settle. I just wanted him to get them through that first turn.”

All three of Ex Mountain Cop’s wins prior to Sunday’s history-making event were run at three-quarters of a mile.

“He really has matured mentally,” Nance continued. “Nothing seems to get to him. Nothing seems to really bother him. The key for me is, as he peaks, to keep him there.”

When Ex Mountain Cop won the OTOBA Sales Stakes on October 22, the Charles Novak, Maynard Davis-owned gelding by Ex Marks the Cop became eligible for the $30,000 bonus should he win the Os West. Since it began in 1998 no horse had swept both races, and thus the bonus had never been paid.

“It’s really hard to do,” Nance said. “For starters, they are at two different distances with the first going one-turn at 6-furlongs, then the second at two-turns at a flat mile. Plus there’s two months time in-between. A lot can happen in two months. Not to mention, I was worried about the jinx,” he said with a big smile.

The closest horse to come to winning the bonus was two-time Oregon Horse of the Year, Lethal Grande, back in 2001. He ran second by 8 ½-lengths to Fit to Bet. Drawing clear by eight lengths at the three-quarter marker, then 10 at the head of the lane, Gutierrez said his charge was feeling the affects of the added distance.

“At the quarter pole he felt like he was going a little slower,” Gutierrez stated. “But fortunately when I asked him he gave me another gear. “It isn’t often you get an opportunity to ride a horse this good. Every jock wants to ride this type of horse. I am really appreciative of Jonathon for letting me be on him. I am truly grateful to him.”

Crossing under the wire 14 ¾-lengths to the good of his nearest rival, Ex Mountain Cop stopped the clock in a reasonable 1:39 3/5. Returning $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10, Ex Mountain Cop improved his career record to 4-1-1 from seven starts. His earnings have reached an impressive $97,833. At Portland Meadows he is perfect in four starts with $93,773 earned.

“The pressure is off now, we can breathe again,” a much relieved Shelly Nance said after celebrating in the winner’s circle with her husband Jonathan and their three children.

On hand there was an entire track full of people wanting to be a part of history, to root for Ex Mountain Cop and see the jinx snapped. As he glided through the wet fast strip, the crowd on the mainline erupted in applause a hundred yards before the wire as announcer Jason Beem uttered, “There’s no debate who the best two-year-old in the state of Oregon is…it’s Ex Mountain Cop!”

Truer words were never spoken. There’s no debate at all and Ex Mountain Cop did not disappoint. Today history was made and champions – each in their respective categories – were most deservedly crowned.

This was, indeed, an Oregon Championship Day that lived up to its billing.