unbeaten is so rare because it is so hard

By Dick Jerardi

Unbeaten in any sport has a unique cachet. Unbeaten in horse racing is so difficult because the best horse does not always win. This isn’t like a football game where the favorite can fall behind by 14 points and still has three quarters of the game to catch up. If something goes wrong early in a race, there just may not be enough time to catch up.

Winning any race is a thrill. Winning consecutive races is a triumph. Winning three straight is a minor miracle.

Aoife’s Magic, the 2-year-old daughter of Parx legend Smarty Jones, is now 3-for-3 after dominating an allowance field at Parx on Nov. 15. She broke her maiden by 10 3/4 lengths on Sept. 11. She came back 12 days later to overwhelm the $150,000 Imply Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths on Pennsylvania Derby Day. She beat her latest field with total ease, winning by 4 1/4 lengths again, bringing her total win margins to 19 1/4 lengths.

Her pure data (speed figures) will not dazzle yet, but it is how runs these races that gives hope for one more big race this year and 2024. Aoife’s Magic runs like she owns the joint.

“She just impresses me,” her trainer David Dotolo said in the winner’s circle after the latest tour de force. “She’ll break as fast as she does and then she’ll just settle back, she’ll sit between horses and then when you ask her to go, she just goes. It’s really nice to train her because she’s push button. She does everything I ask her to do.”

Again, her time (1:14 for 6 furlongs) will not dazzle, but the surface was yielding slow times. In the very next race the accomplished 3-year-old Didinger (named for Philly sports great Ray Didinger) ran his 6 furlongs in 1:13.19. If Aoife’s Magic continues the typical progression from 2 to 3, her data will catch up with her talent.

Dotolo had strongly considered the $200,000 Shamrock Rose at Penn National as her next start, but opted to let her run at home.

She ran so well again that she has run herself right into the $200,000 1 mile-70 yard Miss Behaviour Stakes for Pennsylvania bred 2-year-old fillies on Dec. 27 at Parx.

“I think she’ll go two turns,” Dotolo said. “We’ll find out.”

Yes, we will. But it’s why people buy horses in the first place. They want to find out.

Aoife’s Magic cost owner Art Hetherington just $16,000 at Timonium in October 2022. Now, he has a filly with three straight wins and a future that looks beyond promising.

When asked what he thought he was getting for his $16,000 Hetherington said: “I had no idea. I’m just really pleased with what we got.”

Three in a row?

“I’ve never won three in a row before so it’s great,” Hetherington said.

Young jockey Wilfred Vasquez has only 280 rides in his short career, with 21 wins, 13 this year. Three of those wins have come on Aoife’s Magic.

“Wilfred really does a good job with her,” Dotolo said.

So on to the Miss Behaviour. And if that goes well…

“There’s a lot of Pa. Bred races, there’s races in New York, there’s races everywhere, especially for 3-year-old fillies,” Dotolo said. “Who knows? We’ll see.”

We will all see. And we can’t wait until Dec. 27 to find out more.


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