Nipster favoured, but anything possible in 100th Jamaica Derby

Nipster favoured, but anything possible in 100th Jamaica Derby

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, October 31, 2020

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When the Jamaica St Leger came about last month, it was widely expected to be a straightforward fight between Wow Wow and Mahogany, the two leading three-year-olds at that time.

But Nipster's upset victory in that 10-furlong event changed the conversation and raises the possibility that another surprise winner could come in the 100th edition of the Jamaica Derby over 12 furlongs (2,400 metres) at Caymanas Park today.

If you ask any of the owners, trainers and jockeys of the 11 derby starters to check their proverbial crystal ball and see what they view at the end of the contest, all would foresee themselves celebrating in the winners' enclosure.

This is simply because they believe anything is possible in a race of this nature where a number of factors could come into play, chief among them the distance, as the staying capability of a number of the runners are still unknown.

Note the fact that Nipster's St Leger win came in sloppy, poorly visible conditions, which may have put his rivals at a disadvantage then. So, along with the $6.5-million purse prize, all eyes will also be on the weather, as sunny conditions could bring about different results for the respective connections, some of whom will definitely draft different tactics for this race.

Though many racing pundits would narrow the field to five horses — Wow Wow, Mahogany, Oneofakind, Nipster and King Arthur — today's Jamaica Derby, on this grand centenary occasion, is shaping up to be one of the more competitive races in recent memory.

The event — the final race in this year's Triple Crown series — sponsored by Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), through its newest and most popular mobile betting platform MBet— is scheduled to go to post at 4:05 pm.

First post on the 10-race card is 11:10 am.

After his storming finish in the previous Classic event, Nipster, one of three runners in the line-up for trainer Gary Subratie and owner-breeder Michael Bernard, has established himself as the top stayer among the local three-year-olds this season.

A 31-1 shot in the St Leger, Nipster, with Linton Steadman aboard, gobbled his more acclaimed stablemate Wow Wow close to home and went on to win by 1 lengths in an impressive time of 2:06.0, the fastest recorded in the event since 1996 when War Zone set the Stakes record of 2:05.2.

Based on that performance from off the pace, and the fact that his previous win also came at two turns, Nipster seems to be the well suited for this breathtaking 12-furlong trip and could well enough seal the hat-trick, and more importantly, a second Classic win. Steadman retains the ride.

Like Nipster, Wow Wow, who was knocked off the Triple Crown trail with that St Leger defeat, will have to settle with two out of three in the Classic series, provided he gets today's journey to turn the tables on his stable companion.

In the St Leger, Wow Wow tracked his other stablemate Another Affair for most of the way, surged to the front leaving the half-mile and held a three-length lead at the top of the straight, but could not hold it to the end.

The 2,000 Guineas winner has been nothing but brilliant since his debut, registering 11 impressive wins, with the St Leger second-place finish being one of only three in his 14-race career to date.

Though suspect at 12 furlongs, Wow Wow is a runner who never gives up and runs his heart out in every single race, so one can expect another determined effort, and possibly victory, from this classy colt, all things being equal.

Subratie and his connections have stuck with Robert Halledeen for this another major assignment following rumours that he would have been aboard Another Affair.

That said, they will be hoping for a more capital effort from the filly, who has not shown much since placing second in the 1000 Guineas and Jamaica Oaks to Above and Beyond.

Another Affair is expected to run her usual race on the headlines or up with the pace, but where she finishes from there is left to be seen. Jerome Innis will again be aboard.

Anthony Nunes' Oneofakind is peaking at the right time in his career, which was evident by his third-place finish in the St Leger.

It is no secret that Oneofakind enjoys a distance of ground and has been well-tuned coming into this and should again be around at the business end when this is being decided. If all goes well for him here, then Oneofakind and Dane Nelson are going to make Nunes and his connections very proud at the end of the Derby.

Ian Parsard's duo Mahogany and Double Crown are also poised for a more competitive effort, especially the latter, who was slow into stride, but closed well to finish seventh in the St Leger.

Double Crown has shown a liking to a distance of ground, as he is almost always slow into stride or running on in his events, which indicates that he should get the 12 furlong with minimum fuss. Whether, he will win or not is left to be seen. Dane Dawkins will do the honours.

Mahogany, on the other hand, ran below expectations in the St Leger, finishing fourth by over seven lengths.

Again, the heavy downpour may have been a factor in his performance, but Mahogany has been working really well for the derby and should give a better account of himself, if the conditions are favourable and he is able to get the journey. Omar Walker has retained the ride.

King Arthur, who finished just shy of the frame in fifth in the St Leger and Fearless Champion, who faces his toughest task to day, will carry the hopes of trainer Wayne DaCosta and owner Carlton Watson into today's event.

Fearless Champion, to be ridden by Anthony Thomas, did not run in neither the 2000 Guineas nor the St Leger, but has shown in his races that he is a quality runner over a distance of ground, while King Arthur has been working well and should again be in the bang up. Note that DaCosta has removed the tongue tie on King Arthur to be piloted by Phillip Parchment.

Finally, Fitzroy Glispie's Money Monster (Orlando Foster), Richard Azan's Shepanza (Dick Cardenas) and the Junior Small-conditioned Green Gold Rush (Shane Ellis), will also make their presence felt throughout.

Ones to Watch
Race 1) Lady Bastipur/Big Mama/Colour Me Tan/Battle Dancer/Zabratone
Race 2) Chinamax/Top Shelf/Extruder/Purple Wayne/Tricky One
Race 3) Superbolt/Cartel/KJ Express/Nuclear Dan Dada
Race 4) Alexa's Lodge/England's Rose/Adore Brilliance/Glock
Race 5) Black Royalty/Uncle Bally/Faulyna Forever/Itsabeautifulday
Race 6) Markofaprince/Clearly Ours/Cat's Rigger/Parajet
Race 7) El Cliente/Unbreakable/Subbie/Bay Commander
Race 8) Justsaytheword/Isinbayeva/Shesayyes/My Mom Juss/Trickster
Race 9) Double Crown/Nipster/Oneofakind/Wow Wow/Mahogany/King Arthur
Race 10) Duke/Peking Cruz/Wartime/Ras Emanuel/Enuffisenuff

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