by Dean Hoffman
Call For Rain proves irresistible in homestretch
When bettors looked at the line-ups in the sophomore pacing classics in 1987, they probably felt as if they were looking at a Chinese menu: there were simply too many good choices.
The menu was headed by the unbeaten 1986 juvenile champ Jate Lobell. Add to him Redskin, Jaguar Spur, Laag, Frugal Gourmet, Run The Table, Rumpus Hanover, and Golden Greek.
These pacing colts had spent much of the summer trading victories without a clear leader of the class emerging.
Late in the summer the name of Call For Rain was added to the list. It was a name that racing fans would soon become familiar with. He was dazzling in winning in 1:52 at The Red Mile for trainer-driver Clint Galbraith, the same man who’d campaigned the vaunted Niatross.
So many 3-year-old pacers were entered that elimination heats were needed. Rumpus Hanover took the first elimination with Run The Table taking ths second one.
The field seemed so evenly matched that the Pompano bettors had difficulty finding a favorite. Both Run The Table and Call For Rain were sent off at 3-2 in the final, but Run The Table was the slight favorite. Jate Lobell went off at odds of 3-1.
As they sprinted away from the gate, Rumpus Hanover was the first to show the way, but he soon yielded to a determined Run The Table, driven by John Campbell. The first quarter was in :28 seconds while the half-mile marker was passed in :57.1.
Then Campbell began to use the whip to urge Run The Table to open ground in the third quarter. Campbell was always conservative with the whip, but he explained later that Run The Table had campaigned long and hard that season and benefited from the encouragement. The third quarter was paced in a swift :27.4. Campbell looked over his shoulder and saw the tall Call For Rain looming on the outside.
Run The Table wasn’t willing to surrender and seemed to be widening his margin turning for home. Call For Rain lost ground around the turn. Campbell asked Run The Table for a fast final eighth to seal the victory, but there was simply no quit in Call For Rain. His long strides gobbled up ground in the Pompano homestretch. He hit the wire in 1:53 a head in front of Run The Table. Jate Lobell, locked in traffic until too late, closed willingly to get up for third.
Call For Rain had paced his final half-mile in :55.1 seconds to establish a new track record at Pompano. He ended his season with a dozen wins in 14 starts.