Custer, Casual Drink for Sir Howard, Hotline Stakes

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, February 23, 2019

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N ative-bred three-year-olds take centre stage once again when they compete in the Sir Howard Stakes (colts and geldings) and Hotline Stakes (fillies) feature races at Caymanas Park today.

Both the Sir Howard and Hotline Stakes races, which are considered as major prep races for the upcoming Classic series of races, will venture over six furlongs (1,200m) for purses of $1.1 million each.

The Sir Howard Stakes is positioned as the third race on the card with a post time of 1:30 pm, while the Hotline Stakes is the seventh race with a post time of 3:55 pm. Racing begins at 12:20 pm.

Seven talented runners are down to take part in the 24th running of the Sir Howard Stakes, with majority having a sound chance of winning. Universal Boss, Custer, Father Patrick and Toona Ciliata are all capable enough to go home with the top prize here, while Doctor Grey and Baltusrol will be left behind.

Universal Boss finished a good second behind stable companion and the winter book favourite for the 2000 Guineas, Supreme Soul on last over 7 1/2 furlongs (1,500m) in a quick 1:31.4. Universal Boss's time for the race was 1:32.2 minutes, suggesting that he has some class. Prior to that he was third by 2 1/2 lengths behind Custer down the five-straight course on January 30 in a good time of 58.2 seconds, where he finished the race in 58.4. Universal Boss will be more at home at six furlongs and, given his fine speed, will surely be bang in contention when the race is being decided.

Despite being pitted with top weight of 57.0 kgs (126lb), the Philip Feanny-trained Custer should have no problem putting away these. He really ignited some serious sparks when romping home on last over the five-furlong straight course on January 30. Custer made all to win by 2 1/4 lengths ahead of stable companion Legality and Universal Boss in a smart time of 58.2. He has continued to train well coming into this, having gone 1:13.1 for six furlongs, and with a trophy now at stake and Dane Nelson in the saddle, Custer can complete back-to-back wins here.

Father Patrick was an impressive 4 3/4-length winner on debut on January 12 over 5 1/2 furlongs in a smart 1:06.2 minutes. However, with more experienced and well-established runners in the line-up, Father Patrick will have to improve a lot if he is to win this one. Look for a good run from him, nonetheless.

Toona Ciliata is also coming off a win on last when romping home over five furlongs on the round course by two lengths in a time of 1:00.2. Although he didn't beat much in One Soo True and Roy Rogers, the run suggested that he is on the improve. Working quite nicely in the mornings Toona Ciliata can win again, but it is not going to be easy.

The Hotline Stakes will see the return of the highly rated Casual Drink from the stables of Gary Subratie. Casual Drink last raced on September 29 in the Cash Pot 'Only One For Me' Trophy over 6 furlongs. Sent off as the 3-5 favourite, Casual Drink was beaten into second place by Top Shelf by two lengths. It was said that Casual Drink was not being herself on that day and now well rested and working quite well coming into this race, the bay filly could return with a bang. Casual Drink, who seems to be the class horse in the race, will be ridden by Dane Nelson.

It won't be a walk in the park for Casual Drink as competition should come from Wayne DaCosta's pair of Lady Blue and Princess Annie.

Also on tap on the 10-race card is the Lloyd Lindberg “Lindy” Delapenha Memorial Trophy, an Overnight Allowance event for three-year-olds and upward over one mile (1,600m). Drone Strike should get the better of Drummer Boy and Lici's Pepsi in this one.

Ones to watch
Race 1) Brandy/Storm/Danos La Paz
Race 2) Alexa's Star/Flying Bullet/Dash Of Class
Race 3) Custer/Toona Ciliata/Universal Boss
Race 4) Diferentgeneration/Launa/Top Eagle
Race 5) Drone Strike/Drummer Boy/Lici's Pepsi
Race 6) Msmyrtlerichiegirl/District Attorney/Hot Ice
Race 7) Casual Drik/Princess Annie/Lady Blue
Race 8) Sir Jhunjhun Wala/Axle Rod/Son Son
Race 9) Another Bullet/Nuclear Flight/Saratoga Sight
Race 10) Western Wheels/Formal Fashion/Just Trick Me

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