Champion race mare Saint Cecelia will make her first start of the season in the $1,188,000 Eileen Cliggott Trophy Graded Stakes highlighter at Caymanas Park today.
And her main aim will be to win the event and equal the long-standing record of 12 straight wins set by the 1996 Triple Crown winner War Zone, who began his conquest as a two-year-old in 1995.
The Eileen Cliggott, a race for Graded Stakes three-year-olds upward, would have been the co-feature on today's 10-race card with the annual renewal of the Sir Howard Stakes for native-bred three-year-old colts and geldings, but the Sir Howard Stakes was abandoned due to insufficient entries. The Eileen Cliggott, in the meantime, has attracted a field of six for a lively jaunt going 1,300 metres with an approximate post set at 4:50 pm, with first post at 12:30 pm.
Saint Cecelia is the repeat reigning Horse-Of-The-Year and champion sprinter, who has gone undefeated since 2011. She came closest to defeat after five victories in the Gold Cup by Commanding Chief over 1,400 metres the very same year. However, after rallying strongly under her favourite rider Shane Ellis to prevail by a short head, the seven-year-old chestnut mare by Burning Marque out of the Bates Motel mare She's On Wheels, bred at Ham Stables, has swept all before her in commanding fashion to be on the threshold of record-equaling success after compiling 11 consecutive wins. Saint Cecelia registered the last victory in the CTL Gold Cup last December in her continued build up by beating a good crop of runners, including the imported filly Noon It Is.
Prepared for her races by trainer Spencer Chung for owners Robert F Chung & WP Valentine Chung, Saint Cecelia has been well drilled coming into the Eileen Cliggott, as she is expected to give weight of 7.0kg and more to her rivals. But the Burning Marque chestnut mare is in such fine trim it is anticipated, bar any unforeseen glitches, she will go all the way and equal the record.
Notwithstanding her preeminence, Saint Cecelia is not expected to get the job done without a struggle. She can therefore look to her stablemate, the American-bred Go Go Yvonne for meaningful opposition. Also trained by Chung for Lakeland Farms Ltd, the five-year-old Bandini mare has also worked well coming into the event and having opened her five-year-old season with a sparkling run going 100 metres farther in the Gladiator Trophy on January 26, could ruin the party with the champion claiming apprentice Shameree Muir continuing in the saddle to come in at 48.0kg.
Derby and St Leger winner Typewriter is another who like Saint Cecelia could share the headline. But even with former champion jockey Dick Cardenas in the irons and negotiating the fractions Typewriter will have to take a back seat for this one, as Shane Ellis and the champion racemare will definitely pact too many positives for her stable companion, thus leaving the two outsiders Saint Theresa, the mount of O'Brien White, and Palace Gold, the mount of Paul Francis, to complete the exercise.
Ones To Watch
Race 1 Uncle Taf (Shane Ellis)
Race 2 Raja Hindustani (Dane Nelson)
Race 3 Eastwood (Winston Griffiths)
Race 4 Money Honey (Omar Walker)
Race 5 The Best Flyer (Trevor Simpson)
Race 6 Wings Of Fury (Prince holder)
Race 7 Top Ranking (Jodeien Anderson)
Race 8 Lightning Image (Harriston Lewis)
Race 9 Saint Cecelia (Shane Ellis)
Race 10 Hermoso Amigo (Prince Holder)