01/06/2015 3:13PM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Condo Commando

Tom Keyser

Condo Commando’s primary niche in racing history could have been based on being the answer to a trivia question: Who won the last race called by legendary New York Racing Association announcer Tom Durkin?

Why, it was Condo Commando, who was “splashtastic” in winning the sloppy-track Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.

Now, a horse could do worse than carving out a little piece of history such as this one. Much worse. But Condo Commando did better for herself. Much better. Thanks to linking a runway victory in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct to her Grade 1 Spinaway romp, Condo Commando impressed enough voters to be a finalist for the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly of 2014. And in a sense, that achievement continues her link with Durkin, who is being honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit, which recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the sport.

Condo Commando is owned by Michael Dubb, the Bethlehem Stables of Michael Caruso, and the Elkstone Group of Stuart Grant and is trained by Rudy Rodriguez. And these connections are fortunate to be in the position they are in with Condo Commando because they took a huge risk running her for a $75,000 claiming tag in her debut in August at Saratoga.

“I told Mike and the other owners I knew she could run,” Rodriguez told Daily Racing Form after the Spinaway. “I had to back off her several times down at Belmont, and she wasn’t near fit for her first start. I didn’t want to run her up here against those good 2-year-olds because she would have had to run so hard, might have overextended herself, and then we’d have to back off her again. I thought we had her in the right spot the first time, and fortunately, no one took her.”

Despite not being fit and not overextending herself, Condo Commando won her debut by 12 lengths and went a little better than that in the Spinaway, scoring by more than 13 lengths. Condo Commando followed with the only misstep of her career to date, a fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Frizette Stakes.

But she more than made amends for that loss with her overwhelming victory in the Demoiselle, completing the nine furlongs 0.66 seconds faster than males went in the Remsen Stakes one race later. Condo Commando’s margin of victory in the Demoiselle was 11 1/2 lengths, meaning that all three of her wins were by double-digit margins, with her average margin of victory being an astounding 12 1/4 lengths.

It should be noted that Condo Commando’s two big stakes wins were fashioned while going with the grain of intensely speed-favoring tracks, a point that is not lost on Dubb, a member of the NYRA board of directors. “It certainly didn’t hurt that the track had been favoring speed,” Dubb told DRF after the Demoiselle. “I’m not going to deny that.”

However, it should also be noted that Condo Commando was good enough to capitalize on favorable conditions. In fact, way more than good enough. And this is not an insignificant point. Handicappers know that the list of horses who fail to capitalize on favorable track conditions is endless.

Condo Commando is a daughter of the Tiznow sire Tiz Wonderful and is out of the General Meeting mare Yearly Report, who in 2004 won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the Delaware Oaks, and the Santa Ynez Stakes. Condo Commando was bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm and was purchased by Dubb for $72,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.