Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Mary's Gold, trained by Donovan Russell and ridden by Phillip Parchment, and Meticulous, trained by Anthony Nunes with Dick Cardenas as the pilot, finally released their maiden tags last Saturday. After 16 attempts, Mary's Gold got the job done over sixand- a-half furlongs (1,300m), while Meticulous won over six furlongs (1,200m). As usual, Mary's Gold was slowly into stride at the off as she raced steadily with the backmarkers. Buckmaker (Arthur Budhu) led the field of eight over Black Hawk (Oneil Scott), Twilight Princess with returning veteran Everton Stone in the saddle, and Classic Shakree (Anthony Thomas). As the field came down the backstretch and headed towards the half-mile, Mary's Gold manoeuvred herself into fifth position, gaining on the leaders coming into the lane. Mary's Gold went wide entering the straight lane, but Parchment switched the bay mare to the inside rails and was able to drive Mary's Gold to a one-length victory over Squit (Shane Ellis) and Classic Shakree. The race was timed in 1:25.1. Mary's Gold provided her trainer with his second-ever win. Cardenas broke Meticulous well and was second behind Rohan's Cattleya (Javaniel Patterson) coming around the halfmile (800) turn. Meticulous then took control of the race turning for home, and although shortening a bit inside the last half-furlong (100m), held on to win by a length over the fast-finishing Lady Of The Arena (Shane Ellis). The winning time was 1:16.0. This was the second time that Meticulous was passing the post in front, but on the first occasion – November 1, 2017 – she was disqualified.


Former champion apprentice Linton Steadman seems to have regained his form, as he has been riding more winners of late. After having a breakout season immediately after graduating in September 2015 from the Jamaica Racing Commission's Jockeys' Training School, Steadman carried his form into 2016 when he even rode a Classic race winner in Bigdaddykool, but midway through the year and going into 2017 Steadman found winners hard to come by for two main reasons: 1)weight problems, and (2) the return of Dick Cardenas as the number one rider in the stables of Anthony Nunes. However, Steadman seems to have ironed out most of his problems so far this season, and has been in much better form. On Saturday last, Steadman notched his eighth win for the season aboard the Johnny Wilmottrained Ballon d'Or over nine furlongs and 25 yards. Steadman held the chestnut gelding off the pace as Also Correct (Dane Dawkins), Cheers (Shane Ellis) and Newton's First Law (Omar Walker) did most of the early running. Approaching the home bend, Cheers went on his way with Newton's First Law in hot pursuit and Ballon d'Or just beginning to get going. Turning for home three-wide, Steadman prodded his mount and Ballon d'Or just got up in the nick of time to beat Cheers on the line by a head in a dramatic finish and a really good piece of timing by the young rider. The final time was 1:59.0. “It feels nice to win races. I mean, I am riding well of late and I just want to continue in the same vein. I have been working really hard and will continue to do the same and hopefully more winners will come by,” Steadman said. Steadman currently occupies fourth spot in the jockey's standing behind Anthony Thomas (17), Shane Ellis (15) and Dick Cardenas (13).


Eight horses were claimed on the 10-race programme at Caymanas Park on Saturday. Cheers was claimed from Alford Brown by Prince McDonald for himself, while Ballon d'Or was claimed from Johnny Wilmot by Errol Subratie for himself from the third race. Both claims were made at $350,000. In the 10th and final event on a $180,000 claiming tag, Bernard Vincent claimed Richie's Pik for himself from Marlon Anderson; Clifton McLish claimed Bars Of Gold from Dale Murphy for Deleta Brewster; Norman Smith claimed Cause For Concern for Fisher's Place from Rowan Mathie; Johnny Wilmot claimed Maria's Glory for Carlton Watson from Paul Smith; Randolph Scott claimed Red Dread for Jason Duncan from Ryan Darby, and Junior Panton claimed Powerful Red for himself from Ryan Williams.


With two outsiders – Flashy Mama Mia in the sixth race at 15-1 and Aldebaran in the night pan at odds of 36-1 – punters on Saturday struggled to bring home almost all of the exotic bets on offer. The Sunrise Six looked pretty safe until Flashy Mama Mia intervened and ended with a nice carryover of $1,669,419.75 going into next Saturday. The recently introduced Single Winner Bonus for the Pick-4 wager has reached a whopping $6,173,687.00. The Pick-9 carryover now stands at just over $470,000, with the Single Winner Bonus at $217,052.94. Punters on Saturday will also be greeted with a carryover of $72, 215 in the Superfecta and a Hi-5 carryover of $156,175.50.


Trainer Cashbert Khwalsingh broke an exceptionally long drought when he finally won his first race for the season with his 12th starter for the year – Flashy Mama Mia, ridden by Osive Donegal over the four-furlong (800m) straight course. Flashy Mama Mia raced behind the speed provided by Laguna Point (Anthony Thomas), Sir Leyland Hall (Bebeto Harvey) and Rani (Robert Halledeen) for most of the way. Coming inside the final furlong (200m) the seldom used Donegal produced Flashy Mama Mia between runners to win by a length and a quarter over Laguna Point and Sir Leyland Hall in the end. The final time was 49.0. Flashy Mama Mia was also the first winner this year for Donegal.


Bebeto Harvey has so far had a topsy-turvy time in the saddle. He first came on the scene in 2015 as one of the new apprentices. Then in 2016, he had a truly wonderful year when the winners flowed aplenty and when he was even challenging seriously for the jockeys' championship. In 2017, Harvey's world changed for the worse. He started to have issues with weight, among other things, and the winners dried up; they were now few and very far between and there was a noticeable drop in confidence. On Saturday last (Feb 17, 2018), the young man received a glimmer of hope after picking up a chance ride, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Harvey got his chance ride aboard Aldebaran trained by Gresford Smith and got home in the night pan by half-a-length over Bars Of Gold going a mile (1,600m). Harvey held Aldebaran in third position as Red Dread (Javaniel Patterson) led the field over Richie's Pik (Robert Halledeen) in the early upfront exchanges. Aldebaran swept into second place nearing the turn for home, and with that momentum took over control of the race at the top of the lane and looked all over the winner. Inside the final half-a-furlong, Aldebaran, who began to drift out a bit, had to withstand a late surge from Bars Of Gold (Shane Ellis) to register back-to-back wins. It was also Harvey's second winner for the season, and it was obvious.


None of the late-running colts could get to the leaders Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair down the lane in Saturday's G2 Risen Star. That game pair of sophomores battled it out all the way to the wire, with Calumet's homebred Bravazo just getting his nose down in front at odds of 21-1. Ridden by Miguel Mena for trainer D Wayne Lukas, the son of Awesome Again covered 1 1/16 miles over the Fair Grounds' fast main track in 1:42.95. The victory basically ensures Bravazo a spot in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, since the Risen Star winner gets 50 points on the Derby leaderboard. Lukas has won the Kentucky Derby four times in his Hall of Fame career. Snapper Sinclair ran very well in defeat at odds of 41-1. Well-regarded Todd Pletcher trainee Noble Indy finished third, while 9-5 favourite Instilled Regard finished fourth. “It's very exciting and I'm very thankful to Mr Lukas because they gave me the chance on such a nice horse,” Mena said following the race. “The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat. I didn't know if I had it, but thankfully I did. I have a nice horse.”

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