Chicago Barn to Wire


Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 255-4300
Wednesday, September 20, 2000
95th Day


They're certainly not faint-hearted. As Thoroughbred owners, Bill & Dee Davenport let their promising colt Robinwould take on the highly regarded Victory Gallop from the beginning.

Two and a half years ago, Robinwould went postward as a 27 to 1 longshot against Prestonwood Farm, Inc.'s Victory Gallop in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn's final local prep for the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. Robinwould finished second, beaten a head by the eventual 1998 Belmont Stakes winner that March afternoon, despite being bumped by that rival during the final furlong.

Undaunted, they let Robinwould face off against Victory Gallop again in the Arkansas Derby a month later. Victory Gallop won again, but Robinwould finished sixth at 28 to 1 after bumping with a rival and sustaining a deep gash on his left front during the running. The cut was so severe it was a visible red slash in the middle of a stretch run color photograph that ran on the front page of next morning's paper.

Still with hope, the Davenports let Robinwould start in the 1998 Kentucky Derby as part of the mutuel field at 69 to 1, once again pitted against Victory Gallop. Victory Gallop finished second on that first Saturday in May. Robinwould wrenched his back during the running and limped home 12th in the 15-horse field.

The following season, Victory Gallop went on to earn an Eclipse Award as Older Male in 1999. Robinwould was diagnosed with E.P.M. and was never the same horse. He was entered for a $25,000 claiming tag Wednesday. "You know the game has a lot more disappointments than it has victories," said Bill Davenport, "but we can handle it, although it makes for a long ride home if you lose.

"Running in the Kentucky Derby was the highlight of our career during our 20 years of owning horses," Davenport said. "It was very exciting. They treat you wonderfully at Churchill that entire week, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We would like to go back, and we think that one day we will go back with a horse to run in the Derby."

That day might not be so far away. This week, Bill & Dee Davenport will be at Arlington International, first to watch Robinwould and a promising two-year-old named Stormy Seas run Wednesday, but also to hopefully see their Spectacular Cat go to the post as the possible choice of the fans in the Grade 2 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Spectacular Cat won the $75,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes here September 3 by a length and three-quarters. The Spectacular Bid was the final local prep for the Arlington-Washington Futurity. Ironically, Spectacular Bid is the great grandfather of Spectacular Cat on the bottom side of the juvenile's family.

"There's going to be three or four others in the Futurity who could be very tough," said Davenport, "but I think Spectacular Cat can handle them. That's what the game is all about. Every time you put one in the gate, you have that hope, no matter what the odds- board says.

"As for what lies ahead in Spectacular Cat's future," Davenport concluded, "I can only say that in the relatively short time Dee and I have been in the game, we've learned to take it one race at a time. We'll talk that over with Jerry Calvin (the Davenport's trainer) after Saturday. We're very pleased with Jerry - he's a great trainer - and we've become good friends over the years."


For the last two Fridays of the Arlington meet, September 22 and 29, first post will be moved up five minutes to 3 p.m. Also, on those two Fridays, the "live" race program will be reduced by one to nine "live" races.

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