Commanding Chief to outduel rivals in Prime Minister’s Stakes
IN form chestnut gelding Commanding Chief heads a six-horse field as he goes in search of victory in the 52nd running of the Prime Minister's Stakes at Caymanas Park today.
Yet to be defeated in his two starts as a six-year-old, Commanding Chief looks well set to continue his winning form among Graded Stakes company (three-year-olds and upward) for a purse of $1,500,000 going 2,000 metres.
However, in a field that includes Typewriter and Perfect Neighbour, who are two out-and-out stayers, it may raise some concerns about Commanding Chief's chances of continuing on winning ways.
As the record will show, Commanding Chief has failed on four different occasions in his last 10 starts to win going beyond 1,800 metres, while his two chief rivals have done much better by winning over today's distance while having Commanding Chief behind.
Both have fallen to the dynamic industry of the chestnut gelded son of War Marshall this season with the champion and leading rider Dane Nelson in the saddle, but these were over the shorter distance.
The big test for Commanding Chief in today's jaunt is to show whether or not he has it in him to respond to the strong handling of Nelson when being challenged by Typewriter with his usual rider Shane Ellis up, and Perfect Neighbour with non-claiming apprentice Shamaree Muir replacing the joint leading rider Dick Cardenas.
However, in his six-year-old season, Commanding Chief has never looked better in his racing life and were he to fail to continue on his winning path, the major obstacle to victory would be the distance. Nonetheless, with the champion jockey up, he may just turn water into wine.
Owned by Doks Stable, trainer Everal Francis has left nothing to chance and will bring Commanding Chief to the track primed to the minute for the extended trip.
This is expected, as last year's Superstakes winner Typewriter was gathering a storm behind Commanding Chief when the wire intervened on last going 1,800 metres.
Since then trainer Spencer Chung has had the five-year-old bay gelded son of Western Classic work with great enterprise. And now with the distance increased, so will be his chances of getting much closer at the wire.
Perfect Neighbour prepared for racing by champion and leading trainer Wayne DaCosta has also been well drilled for the occasion, but it is his stablemate, the five-year-old grey mare Exotic Gold who seems likely to make her presence felt with the light impost.
The 2012 Oaks heroine had a nice blowout going 1,700 metres on last, and like the top stayers in the line-up, Typewriter and Perfect Neighbour, Exotic Gold is more than capable of a sub-2:07.0-minute finish for the 2,000 metres and may just be the one to rub salt in their wounds with Dick Cardenas remaining aboard to run for the grand finish.
Ones To watch
Race 1 Aquilo (Jemar Jackson)
Race 2 Naseen (Dane Nelson)
Race 3 Classy Prospect (Shamaree Muir)
Race 4 Reign Of Defteny (Kuri Powell)
Race 5 Flying Miracle (Darian Robinson)
Race 6 Cheers (Dane Nelson)
Race 7 Don Peppa Seed (Aaron Chatrie)
Race 8 Commanding Chief (Dane Nelson)
Race 9 Above The Radar (Richard Mitchell)