THE pall of gloom which shrouded over the Park last Friday morning continued on Saturday's raceday as the brutal slaughter of trainer Tony Kirlew drew fear and was on the lips of all.
Kirlew, a second generation trainer after many years of association with racing, was just about coming into his own with the likes of MissMyrtleBoyRichie aiding his ascent on the trainer's ladder. The need for better security at the track was further highlighted by the daring and inexplicable robbery after races of what is said to be over $7 million.
Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) can ill afford at this time to lose even one cent as it is operating at a loss as we are often reminded by its chairman. To now lose such a large sum of its Saturday handle will only serve to exacerbate an already perilous financial situation. The call will always be to increase security, but given the circumstances of its finances, CTL will find it very difficult to do so. Surely, however, raceday security needs to be increased to better protect what is already in the coffers. CTL is between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
Thankfully, these two incidents, coupled with the possibility of Isaac bringing torrential rain, did not ruin what was on paper a quite competitive 12-race programme sponsored by SEEK.
Again there was confirmation of the effects the dreaded number one draw can have on the chances of a good horse, especially in races which are considered sprints. The day's feature over 1,300 metres was the Seek Exercise Trophy featuring nine horses in the Open Allowance Category.
The howling 1-4 favourite was Commanding Chief drawn at one. On the books and according to form, Commanding Chief was a cinch; all they had to do was run the race. So commanding was his favouritism, the second favourite in the race Reasonable Press went off at an attractive 9-2. The race was indeed run and at the start, Commanding Chief faltered, went behind and although usual rider Paul Francis tried his best, he was not able to recover. It was left to Reasonable Press (D Cardenas) and Go Go Yvonne (C Malcolm) to fight out a close finish with the former getting home by a short head with Commanding Chief ending up in sixth position.
Would a better draw make a difference? The answer is yes. If Commanding Chief was drawn on the outside, he would have been able to track down easier allowing Francis the opportunity of judging a better race. One cannot say with certainty, as there is nothing certain in racing, that he would have won, but for sure his chances would have been better. Punters must, therefore, be very careful in their selections when the so called 'soup' is drawn at one, especially in sprint races and when a horse is not an out and out sprinter.
Nowadays it appears to be very difficult to get a two-year-old contest on the racing programme. These races represent the future for the sport, but for whatever reason or reasons, some trainers are very reluctant to start their two-year-olds leading to races being abandoned. It was, therefore, pleasing to have six juveniles competing over 1,000 metres straight for the Seek Composition Plaque. As it turned out the race was dominated by champion trainer Wayne DaCosta whose Hovercraft defied the odds to upstage stablemate, the imported Fortuneonehundred at the finish.
One horse which we must start to pay attention is Brilliant Lad, another importee from the stables of Gary Subratie. This three-year-old bay colt finished strongly to easily dispatch rivals in a non-winners of three contest. The manner of his victory suggests there is much more to come.
We will watch his development closely.
Congratulations to the people from Seek for their continued support of racing. They made the day bright despite the gloom.