El Comandante, Canovanas, PR, Feb. 19

The Big Co. saw fit to force me to go on a business trip to Puerto Rico again this winter, and once again I stretched it out to make time for a side expedition to El Comandante Race Track outside San Juan. I cannot recommend this track enough!

Let's start with the important stuff:

parking: free
admission: free (grandstand, clubhouse = $3.00)
PP program: free
beer: $1.75
coke: $1.00
pizza: $1.35
taco: $1.25
burger: $2.00
pastellila (a tasty fried thingy): $0.60
hot dog: $1.75
snapple: $1.25

Cheap, though not particularly tasty. And Snapple. Yuck.

The track itself was as beautiful as I remembered from last time, with a big lush, green infield sporting two large ponds, and I swear the same diving birds I saw last year were still there plucking out fish. The grandstand structure is showing a few wear marks I don't remember from last year, but that might be hurricane damage. Or a more critical McChump eye.

It was raining quite vigorously when I arrived, but cleared off before post time to make for a beautiful warm humid day. The track, however, was left in less than perfect condition, officially Encharcada (sloppy) but looked more like Fangosa (muddy) to me. What the hey - it made for an outstanding front end speed bias that I recognized right off and proceeded to milk for all it was worth during the subsequent 7 races. Eight races total, naturally I had to bet them all, and brought home a grand total of 2 losers for the whole afternoon. Long live Encharcada!

In the featured 1-3/16 mi. Grado I Clasico Luis Munoz Martin, Waki Boy (Megaturn en Missy Waki) took the lead on the backstretch and never looked back, winning by open lengths. This is the same Waki Boy that won an allowance race when I visited El Comandante last winter, cheating me out a huge score that I would have made if only my horse had finished first instead of 6th. I didn't make the same mistake again. $3 on Waki Boy's nose, returning a cool $3.20 or so. I am the king!

So to make a long story short and not duplicate last year's report too much, I'll just say: Visit this track! Next time you're booking a cruise that leaves from San Juan, or considering where your next Caribbean getaway is going to be, or whatever, keep El Comandante in mind and make the extra time.

Racing Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, year round.

And oh - do not believe the rental car maps as to where this track is actually situated. Look for the town of Canovanas and drive.