On a very lukewarm day at Caymanas Park when not even the feature lived up to its billing, Smokin Man won the $715,000 George Hosang Trophy highlighter by one-half length.
It was, however, left to Rock Union to instil some life into the programme with an encouraging performance in preparation for the Guineas Classic some eight weeks away.
Rock Union, running for the second time and installed the 6-5 favourite, beat the 3-2 chance Royal Vibes to win the penultimate eighth race, a Restricted Allowance II call for native-bred three-year-olds (NW2) by three-and-a-half lengths.
Ridden by Shane Ellis for trainer Anthony Nunes, Rock Union, a dark, bay colt by Seeking The Glory out of Lady Lydia (Private Interview) ran 1,300 metres in a time of 1:21.1 minutes. Royal Vibes, who never seemed to be enjoying his gallop, closed late to be second under Dane Nelson, and had a neck to spare on the 9-5 bet Crucial Appeal, ridden by Chris Douglas.
Smoking from barrier #3 in the reduced field of four, Smokin Man, ridden by Prince 'Daggerman' Holder for owner trainer Raymond Townsend, ran 1,000 metres straight in a time of 59.1 seconds as the 1-2 favourite. This was after the overwhelming 1-9 favourite, the speedy American-bred four-year-old bay filly Hupomone, ridden by Dane Nelson, bolted off the track and was scratched to further reduce the field of seven to four.
Earlier, her stablemate Double The Honey, the mount of Devon A Thomas, was scratched, which meant that two of the most highly fancied runners in the event of the four entries entered from the stables of Wayne DaCosta, did not participate. Prince Theo, trained by Townsend, was also withdrawn.
With the race in tatters and the highly fancied Hupomone and Double The Honey declared non-runners, Smokin Man, a top performer over the distance with the third best time in the field, was made the 1-2 favourite ahead of Cantare. A stable companion of both Hupomone and Double The Honey, Cantare ridden by apprentice Renardo McNaughton, was then installed as the 6-5 second favourite ahead of his stablemate Kal Kal, a 5-2 bet ridden by stable apprentice Holando Butler.
Cantare and Smokin Man went at each other from the off and see-sawed the lead with Smokin Man inching away in the final strides to gain the victory.
Perfect Flyer, the longest shot on the board at odds of 11-1, finished third with Kal Kal completing the frame.
Trainer Townsend said that he was quite happy with the win. "When Hupomone bolted, I knew that I would win the event, as she was my only danger."
Smokin Man, a five-year-old roan horse by Datton Flyer out of Smokin N Firing (Smoke Glacken) bred by Lorenzo Robinson was winning for the sixth time from 20 career starts and earned $390,400 as the winner's share for earnings of $2,860,800 lifetime.