Jockey K. Banner rode the surge of the magnificent champion beneath him to the lead in late stretch of the Aussie Queen, then looked back for the bolt of lightning he was sure was coming.
It was not.
DRAKON’S BAZOOKA was safe and SPICED TURTLE would not catch him this time. And with that, Lenny’s supremely talented son of Exceed and Excel stepped through the door and into the Simulated Hall of Fame.
The $3 million, 10-furlong Aussie Queen going 10 furlongs over the Victoria turf was the sixth Grade 1 triumph for Drakon’s Bazooka. With it, he qualifies for the Hall of Fame.
“I’m pretty psyched to get another in the HOF,” said Lenny, “and certainly happy to have earned it with such a big win.”
It takes a lot to get Lenny psyched about the Sim these days. He has dominated for so long that he has become like B.B. King. The thrill is gone.
In war, a general conquers a land but once. The thrill of victory is singular and immense. But this trainer has conquered this same Simulated territory over and over again, and grows weary in the conquering of it.
“I’ll be honest,” Lenny said. “It was the first race I’ve watched in quite a while.”
In the past 18 months, Lenny has made a drastic reduction in his Simulated operation. He has cut his number of horses by half.
Even so, his horses continue to take down the biggest races. Just last week, his NUKA DEATHMARCH won the Grade 1, $6 million Sand Castle Classic.
It’s one thing for Lenny to win a big race. It’s another to do it while denying another Grade 1 win to Given, who trains Spiced Turtle, an all-time great horse.
“I was really glad to get anothe rwin over Dan’s monster,” Lenny said. “Frankly, beating Dan is one of the things I most enjoy after all these years. He’s as good as it gets in the Sim. And I’m sure he’d say the same about beating me!”
The rivalry between Drakon’s Bazooka and Spiced Turtle now stands even, two wins apiece. It isn’t over yet. They will meet again, perhaps in 10 or 12 weeks.
“Absolutely,” Lenny said. “I told Dan if I won, I’d chase him the rest of the year. I’ll definitely find out if I can run 12 furlongs. If my guy can’t get 12f, I’ll gear up for another shot at the Windy City and Cox Plate later this year.
“To be honest, though, Dan and I are chasing Solar Song’s money record. When you think about the fact that we updated the schedule and added more turf races and a lot more money, Solar Song’s career continues to seem better through the rearview mirror.”
The admittance of Drakon’s Bazooka gives Lenny six horses in the Hall of Fame.