Mojito – the undisputed three-year-old leader
IT was expected to be his sternest task to date but the reigning champion two-year-old from last season, Mojito, turned The Kingston into a one-sided affair as he swept all before him in the final prep race on the “Road to the Triple Crown” for colts and geldings on Sunday, May 7, 2023.
Mojito came up against developing and undefeated horses Huntsman and Ability but the grey colt, trained by Richard Azan, thrashed them by 15 lengths over 7 1/2 furlongs (1,500m). Huntsman was way behind in second place, Sensational Move (Omar Walker) placed third. The time recorded was 1:33.0 with splits of 23.4 x 47.1 x 1:11.3.
When the starter sent them on their way Mojito, ridden by champion Dane Dawkins, relaxed in mid-pack as Ridge Liner (Jerome Innis) led the field ahead of Ability (Javaniel Patterson) and Anonymous (Tevin Foster) down the backstretch. Approaching the half-mile (800m) turn, Mojito slipped down into second place in pursuit of Ability who took up the running from five furlongs (1,000m) out. Mojito took over the lead navigating the home bend and from then on it was only a question of who would endure for the minor shares.
TRAINER’S COMMENTS – RICHARD AZAN
“Well, first of all, he ran a better race today than he ran the last time. The last time was the first time out for the year, and you can see he has improved tremendously. I hope he continues like this because he is really a very nice horse and I am thinking he is one of the better horses that I have owned and trained. He is a gentle horse to train and so he does everything you ask him to do, which is what I really like and that’s what horses are. Let’s just hope that we can continue without any setbacks, and I am looking forward to a great year. He trained really well coming into the race and he was very keen today so I knew he was feeling really good. He is bred to stay and so I don’t think that I will have any problems; and he is showing that he can go some distance as he wasn’t coming back, he was moving away. Where we are is where we want to be and let’s hope we can continue.”
JOCKEY’S COMMENTS – DANE DAWKINS
“He is a fantastic horse. I wasn’t thinking about any other runners in the race as I already knew what my horse could do, so I went into the race with a free mind. I was very comfortable throughout the race; there was nothing to worry about. He responded well to my urgings throughout the race so it was just smooth sailing. I am confident in him and he is also confident in himself as every day he is getting better and better.”
Mojito has established himself as the obvious favourite for next month’s one-mile (1,600m) 2000 Guineas Classic. It was encouraging to see Mojito‘s improvement as he proved to be the finest of the three-year-old crop this season. Huntsman‘s connections must be happy with him since he finished second after only one previous start, demonstrating growth ahead of the other seasoned runners. Sensational Move, who was making his second appearance, deserved to finish third.