|Race Day Review Day 26 Saturday 21st July 2012|
ARIMA RACE CLUB
Spares’ strikes out ‘Bruce’
STRIKES NOT SPARES struck out mighty Bruceontheloose in pulsating fashion when horse racing continued at Santa Rosa Park, Arima. After sticking to the defending champion like glue at the head of the pack for most of the way in the 1,900-metre affair, the American-bred four-year-old got his head in front in the closing stages and went on to cheekily take the Normal Gabriel Insurance Brokers President’s Cup by three quarters of a length. Two-time Horse of the Year Brucontheloose actually lost second place just before the wire as another long shot, Mobthewarrior, finished full of running to pip the favourite by a head. Strikes Not Spares was expected to be an outsider, but punters were really caught napping as they sent him off at the unbelievable odds of 55/1. For the few who actually supported the Terrance Thomas-trained chestnut, it turned tot to be the present to surpass all other gifts. Even before he had established himself as one of the top stayers in the country, punters had showed Strikes Not Spares more respect as he was at 19/1 in both the feature attraction on Caribbean Nations Challenge Day and in the Gold Cup last December.
The son of Tenpins proved that fans would have to take him more seriously this season by finishing fourth in both events, the two richest of the year for open stayers with average prize-money of over $500,000. And Strikes Not Spares did not have to wait long to gloat when punters ignored him again as he was at 13/1 when he went down by a short-head to Montejo in the Grade II Arima Race Club Cup in late February. He finally got some respect three weeks before the President’s Cup when he was sent off as the 5/2 second favourite in a 1,750-metre contest for 90 & over rated horses. But although Strikes Not Spares finished ahead of just one horse in the race won by Montejo, he was beaten by only about three lengths after losing about five lengths because of a sluggish beginning. So it was the understatement of the year to say that it was a shock that he was still listed at 80/1 less than ten minutes before the start of the feature attraction of the nine-race card. Only a few punters realised that something was terribly wrong and they were rewarded with $56 for a every dollar spent on Strikes Not Spares to win.
Montejo, who was attempting to complete a hat-trick of wins after he just failed to catch Boogie Blues in the Gold Cup, finished a non-threatening fourth as the joint-second favourite, seven full lengths behind Bruceontheloose. Boogie Blues, racing for the first time in over three months and the first time on dirt for five months, looked clearly in need of the race and finished fifth of the eight runners in the Grade II contest. The Gold Cup winner was followed home by the three American-bred three-year-olds, Golden Dixieland, Gabby’s Gold and Ignition Coil, respectively. Gabby’s Gold, a winner of three of six career starts, going in, was expected to be a threat, but he has been plagued with problems at the gates this season and squandered any chance of producing the upset with his slugging beginning. Many of the experts felt that Ignition Coil would be able to defeat the top class stayers if he had the stamina. But he apparently didn’t and, not only finished last, but was ten lengths behind Gabby Gold after beating Shivam Maharaj’s chestnut by that exact margin when they were first and second over 1,350 metres a month earlier.
A winner of four of his six previous starts, Ignition Coil is being considered the brightest star in the horizon, but the John O’Brien-trained chestnut was the only horse in the field who had never raced over two turns. Stable companion Bruceontheloose, who won last year’s edition of this $150,000 contest after being nosed out by Cactus Amour in 2010, was attempting to score for the 20th time from 26 starts in Trinidad, but faltered in the final 150 metres. It was the fourth victory for the Christopher James-owned Strikes Not Spares, who has also finished runner-up on four occasions during his 22-start career and moved past $300,000 in earning with the $90,000 winners’ cheque. Trophies for many of the races were sponsored by media houses and Youaresobad finished strongly in the third to just catch Sam’s Hero and take the in the Newsday (George Baptiste) event by three quarters of a length.
Light-weighted maiden Star Tiger finished a very gallant third at very long third just 1 ¼ lengths back, while Lang Amour rounded out the top four in the 1,750-metre contest for 90-70 rated horses. Last year’s Santa Rosa Classic and Oaks Stakes winner B’s Passion was never able to make an impression and ended up a very disappointing fifth of the seven runners and was followed home by Secret American, in his first race in over three months and Caribbean Turf Championship runner-up Oasis, respectively. Sam’s Hero, who had won the Midsummer Classic and finished third in both the Easter Guineas and Trinidad Derby two years ago, was racing for the first time in over five month and almost pulled off the upset at odds of over 20/1. Youaresobad, scoring for the third time in seven outings at Santa Rosa Park, started a streak of four consecutive wins in the saddle for Brian Boodramsingh.
The champion jockey returned right after to boot home Oro De Cordoba and then triumphed with Cailey’s Magic and Island Star before just failing to make it five straight when Super Grey just failed by a head to catch Be Precise in the CTV (James Saunders) 1,350-metre contest for 55-35 rated horses. Boodramsingh luck ended right there as Ignition Coil and Diplomatic Cat ended up trailing the field in the last two events, respectively. Loan Shark, the third-placed finisher in last year’s Easter Guineas, came storming down the homestretch to win the curtain event – the Flow Finale – over a distance of for 85-65 rated horses at odds of 10/1. Island Star denied Enigmatic by a neck for her fourth triumph over 1,100 metres on the turf in the I95.5 (Don Lee) event. And after failing to find winners’ enclosure in 30 & lower company in her last three starts, Cailey’s Magic stepped up to 40 & lower company and impressively won the 1,350-metre Express Newspapers (Glen Mohammed) event by 4 ½ lengths.
Before scoring three weeks earlier, Oro De Cordoba had never won but had managed to finish second eight times in her first 13 starts on the lawn. The Patrick Da Silva-bred and owned four-year-old seemed to enjoy being in the winners’ enclosure so much that she did it again. Oro De Cordoba finished 3 ½ length clear of her 70-50 rated rivals over 1,100 metres at the very generous price of 5/1 on the turf in the Winners Circle (Tony Salandy) event. Boodramsingh’s only winner who was very well considered in the betting was Youaresobad, who was at odds of 8/5 and narrowly sent off as the favourite ahead of B’s Passion and Lang Amour. Island Star prevailed at odds of 6/1 and Cailey’s Magic, 10/1. O’Brien was the day’s leading trainer as the defending champion saddled Youaresobad and Island Star.
Racing will continue at Santa Rosa Park with the 27th round of the Arima Race Club's 2012 Season on Emancipation Day (August 1) when the locally-bred three-year-olds will square off in the inaugural running of the T &T Breeders Stakes.
The field for the $500,000 1,800-metre contest could include the likes of Guineas winner Unquestionable, Onetokeep, the “Midsummer” hero, as well as Big Thing, who finished second in both races.