|Race Day Review Day 27 Wednesday 1st August 2012|
ONETOKEEP made most of the running to win the inaugural edition of the Betting Levy Board Trinidad and Tobago Breeders Classic in spectacular fashion at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The Mary Camacho-bred and owned chestnut waved goodbye to his fellow locally-bred three-year-olds at the far turn and went on to effortlessly take the 1,800-metre contest by 4 ¾ lengths.
The Big Squeeze came with her customary late run to finish second, while Big Thing and Nettoyer rounded out the top four, respectively, in the feature attraction of the Emancipation Day holiday card.
But the disappointment continued for Unquestionable as the Easter Guineas winner could only finish sixth of ten after the horse owned by Arima Race Club (ARC) president Hugh Lee King had placed ninth of 12 last time out in the Midsummer Classic.
The second leg of the triple crown had been contested two months earlier and the first three finishers on Indian Arrival Day occupied the first three positions again.
The difference this time was that The Big Squeeze finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Big Thing after failing by a short-head to catch him in the ‘Midsummer.’
Also Onetokeep had scraped home by a length in that 1,900-contest, but he looked absolutely unbeatable this time around.
The $450,000 Midsummer Classic was the richest race of the season until now. The ‘Breeders Classic’ offers total prize-money of $500,000, joining the Trinidad Derby Stakes and the Gold Cup (on Boxing Day – December 26) as the richest events on the local calendar.
After this performance, Onetokeep should be the one to beat in the Derby and if the son of Big Country prevails on Republic Day (September 24) he will earn another whopping $300,000 cheque and become only the second horse to earn $1 million in a single season in local racing.
Bruceontheloose did the trick in 2009 and has gone on to become the only horse to surpass the two-million dollar mark. The only other millionaires are Sian’s Gold, Top Of The Class, Chief Commander, Grand Riviere and Cactus Amour.
Onetokeep has won four times in a six-race career which also includes a third-placed finish in the ‘Guineas’, and has total earnings of $741,500.
But the majority of money has in just his last two starts as, the John O’Brien-trained gelding, pocketed $270,000 in the “Midsummer” and picked another $300,000 on this occasion.
Brian Harding has been aboard on all six occasions, but the multiple champion has really been struggling recently and rode just one other winner in the two months between Onetokeep victories.
After also finding the going tough in her first three starts of this season, The Big Squeeze has really turned things around, and after finishing third in the “Midsummer” at 30/1, last year’s St Ann’s Stakes heroine beat the West Indian-bred three-year-old fillies in the Gleneagle Stakes on July 7.
‘Guineas’ and ‘Midsummer’ runner-up Big Thing was considered the main threat to Onetokeep, but he could not keep up when the 4/5 favourite kicked for home at the far turn and one-placed in the homestretch.
David Mahabir’s son of Settle Up ended up a length in front of Nettoyer, the Santa Rosa Classic winner who finished on the board in a two-turn event for the very first time.
Defending champions O’Brien and Brian Boodramsingh stretched their already sizeable leads in the training and riding departments, respectively, for the season.
Despite missing an entire month serving a suspension, O’Brien started the day with an eight-length lead over Harold Chadee and stretched it to 11 after saddling King Whistler, Island Star and Onetokeep.
King Whistler, recently purchased by Vishan Ali from Seeta Lawrence, just wore down the Chadee-owned and trained Smart American to win the day’s third event, the 1,200-metre contest for 100-80 rated horses.
The American-bred four-year-old was scoring for the fourth time this season and denied the son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner his fifth victory of 2012 by half-length.
Skyline Pigeon, who has cooled off after dead-heating for first with last year’s Stewards Cup winner Signal Alert in April, was another six lengths back in third. El Bandido De Oro was 3/4th-length back in his first race in over three months and last year’s Caribbean Sprint Championships winner Lawbreaker brought up the rear.
Blackstone Street, the 2009 Stewards Cup winner, actually went out to compete in the day’s second feature, but was withdrawn.
Two races later Island Star scored for the second time in succession when Anthony Wight’ s four-year-old filly won the 1,600-metre turf contest for 55-35 rated horses by three lengths.
All five of the Barbadian-bred chestnut’s victories have been on the grass, but all her previous wins were achieved in a lower class.
O’Brien made it 33 for the season when Onetokeep won the penultimate event of the ten-race card.
His stable rider Boodramsingh booted home both King Whistler and Island Star, but the youngster was still not satisfied and he came back just before the feature to pilot Cailey’s Magic as the favourite prevailed cheekily by head in the 1,300-metre contest for 30 & lower rated horses.
Boodramsingh, who had also scored with Island Star and Cailey’s Magic when he had been triumphant four times during the previous race day, has now ridden 29 winners this year, 15 more than the second-placed Harding.
The champion apprentice of 2010 did not have things all his way this time as Shane Ellis also scored three times during the 27th round of the ARC’s 2012 Season.
The United States-based Jamaican displayed his skills from the very first event when he and Super Sonic battled back after being passed to edge favourite Chief’s Nephew in the 1,300-metre contest for $20,000-$15,000 claimers.
Ellis also got home by half-length in the fourth when he and Cordell Walker just caught Precious Lilly to in the 1,100-metre turf contest for West Indian-bred three-year-old maidens.
The son of Western Envoy, who has four runner-up finishes, broke his duck on his 15th attempt.
Both Super Sonic and Cordell Walker are owned by Stephan Narinesingh.
Ellis came back two races later and guided Love Over Gold to a 3 ¼-length win over the 40 & lower horses over 1,100 metres on the lawn.
The West Indian-bred two-year-olds made their first appearance of the season early in the day and Safra Tilah looked really good as cruised home by 2 ½ lengths in the second race.
The punters were on the ball as they made the Glenn Mendez-trained filly the 4/5 favourite and she went on to shatter the 800-metre track record by more than a second.
Chadee occupied the other places on the board with Secret Circle, Run Ron and Zun Zum, respectively, The owner/trainer had actually declared six of the nine starters, but She’s A Cutie was failed by the veterinarian the day before and Star Dreamer refused to go into the gates.
After guiding Sarfa Tilah to victory, multiple champion jockey Ricky Jadoo, who had fallen off Ace Of Spades just before in the opening event, decided to sit out the rest of the day.
Racing continues at Santa Rosa Park next week Saturday.