By Ben Massam. –
Trainer Efren Loza Jr. endured an unexpected anxious moment in the final furlong of Saturday’s Inaugural S. at Tampa Bay Downs. Just when it appeared that his promising 2-year-old Ishaq (Harlan’s Holiday) was home free with a four-length advantage, the colt took a series of erratic steps in deep stretch and nearly lost the race.
Fortunately, Ishaq re-engaged after the unprecedented incident and prevailed by a neck over a surging Formal Summation (In Summation), but it was not until after the race that Loza realized something had gone awry with his runner’s blinkers.
“I was seeing the race live and I didn’t see the blinkers [come loose]–I thought that something went wrong with the horse,” recalled Loza. “And after that I saw the blinkers, and the jockey told me that the horse stopped and lost his momentum at the end. When he saw the other horses, he started again and won by a neck. That’s just something that happened–an accident.”