Calder Hall of Fame trainer Bill White achieved the milestone 2,000th career victory when his horse Determinato crossed the finish line in the $50,000 Kaiser Handicap on Saturday at Calder Casino & Race Course.
White was greeted in the winner’s circle by his family, friends, barn members, and Calder team members as he was recognized for his accomplishment. The congratulations, handshakes, and hugs did not stop there, as White continued to be congratulated by fans on the apron.
“I am elated,” said White. “I am actually quite surprised I am as composed as I am. It is really fun. My first win was with a maiden $35,000 claimer and with (win) 2,000 being a stake, wow, nice bookends, huh? It kind of describes my career.”
White quickly racked up victories during the Tropical meet on his way to the 2,000 win mark. His horses won eleven times since the beginning of September, which included three wins on one card on October 11.
After Jade’s Rainbow finished third in a 7 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance race on the turf at Calder in the fifth race on Saturday, Determinato had the opportunity to provide White with the final victory he needed to reach the 2,000 win mark. Determinato did just that as the post-time favorite.
Determinato broke first from the gate and never looked back as he hit fractional times of :21.42 and :43.68 with a final time of :55.47 for the 5-furlong turf race to take his third win in a row.
“A five-eighths race, if you have speed, you have to use it initially,” said White. “You can’t give up anything at the break. If you happen to get lucky and just break right on cue, which we did today, you just go on with it. If you break a half-step slow or whatever and the speed gets the first jump on you, then you just sit there and lay a little off of it so when he broke and immediately took the lead, at that point (jockey Jesus) Rios says ‘Okay, there ain’t no turning back now – come get me.’”
Determinato stayed strong throughout the race. He showed his speed early on, held off Uno Caliente who pressed the pace before fading, and then kept the closing Silver Cloud at bay down the stretch to cross the wire one and three-quarters of a length ahead and earn just his second career stakes victory and his first since January 2011.
“It’s a dream come true,” said owner Ron Marano. “My dad (Frank Marano) bred the horse and of course we had the tendon problem, so for him to come back and compete at this level is really something because that is a bad injury. We took our time, put him on the farm with our guy Charles Weston and gave him to Larry Pilotti, (he) had him first, and then gave him to Bill, and the rest is history. It is a great feeling.”
After scoring his first career stakes win with the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Determinato did not race again for more than a year. He went winless in 2012 upon his return with five starts, which included one second-place finish in the Champali Stakes, a fourth-place finish in the Ponche Handicap, and a third-place finish in the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Stakes, all at Calder. In his only other stakes appearance in 2013, Determinato finished third to Silver Cloud in the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Stakes in July.
Prior to the Kaiser, Determinato scored a 5-furlong allowance victory that was taken off the turf, crossing the wire one and a quarter length ahead of Mel Beach at Calder on September 21. Determinato kicked off his winning streak with a 5-furlong allowance win on the turf at Calder on August 16, crossing the wire one and a half lengths ahead of Silver Cloud.
After Determinato won his start prior to the Kaiser, Marano entertained the idea that White might hit the 2,000 win milestone with a future win by Determinato.
“I talked to Bill about that a couple of weeks ago," said Marano. "I said, ‘What if it was Determinato?’ when Determinato won his last race, and he goes, ‘Well, you never know.’ I could not be prouder of Bill and the horse. It is a dream come true, it really is.”
Determinato paid $5.20, $3.20, and $2.40 for the win, while Silver Cloud returned $3.40 and $3.00 for second. Mel Beach brought $7.00 for third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Wicked Tune; Apriority; Uno Caliente; Starship Wildcat; Close It Out; Rockyshomerun; and Trev. Stat was scratched, as well as the main track only entrants County Gun and Loveyouallthetime.