“Going into the last race I had six people in front of me,” recalled Doug Knudson. “Lady of Fifty looked just as good as the rest of them. I was just hoping not to get blocked.”
Since the early stages of the contest, all players had been chasing Garrett Skiba (‘skibasher’) in the weekend’s featured $10,000 tournament. Skiba, who took down a $10,000 tournament three weeks prior, looked to be in healthy shape of a repeat effort going into the final race of the contest, the Clement Hirsch (GI) from Del Mar.
For Knudson (‘dougefresh’), there were only a handful of fillies that would pay enough to catch the leader. Luckily, one of them was Lady of Fifty, who Knudson had circled earlier in the day as a live value play. The wagering public had let her drift up from her 6-1 morning line odds to north of 10-1 on the board, ensuring that a win would be enough to surge past Skiba.
Knudson’s first break came when the gates flew open and the game chart appeared signaling that none of his competitors with a higher bankroll had also selected Lady of Fifty. Had any of them done so, there would have been no chance of a win, as Knudson would have been effectively ‘blocked’ from advancing past that foe.
With that hurdle behind him, Knudson still needed to get Lady of Fifty into the winner’s circle to secure his own victory. With Del Mar’s inconsistent racing surface providing few clues as to any discernible track bias, it was difficult to ascertain whether her unhurried approach to the early part of the race was doing her any favors.
But as the field turned into the stretch and it became obvious that heavily favored Include Me Out was faltering, things started looking up for Knudson. Lady of Fifty would surge to the lead after rallying five wide on the turn, en route to a 1 ½-length victory under Corey Nakatani. Just as Lady of Fifty had run down the field in the Clement Hirsch, Knudson had rallied to pass his rivals late to win the $10,000 tournament.
“I liked the angle of her being a twice beaten favorite,” explained Knudson. “And I knew I needed to play a longshot. I read somewhere recently that favorites at Del Mar are hitting at a historically low 20%. That’s really, really low!”
Knudson won the winner’s share of $4,525 in cash and a $475 token to play in Sunday’s $5,000 High Stakes tournament.
A longtime racing enthusiast, Knudson grew up in the Glendale, California area and was next door neighbors with trainer John Dolan, active primarily in the 1980’s and 90’s. Knudson resides in Las Vegas and frequently plays in contest, which he has done as long as he can remember. He has been a member of the DerbyWars community since the site began beta testing back in 2011.