Race Day Review – Sunday, August 20, 2023
The feature event titled the Caymanas Park 1959 was something of curiosity.
In the absence of a citation one had to guess it was commemorative of the occasion of the first race day at the new facility with horse racing transitioning to a sand surface and permanently away from the grass of Knutsford Park now New Kingston and elsewhere.
The ensuing operational period of over six decades must be assessed in roughly two 30-year cycles.
Racing meetings increased from 29 in 1960 to 84 in 1992 operating a handicap system. A complicated claiming system was introduced in 1993 inheriting this growth rate which had peaked at 115 runners per day and between 11 and 12 races per day. Thirty years later the average over the last three seasons has been less than 10 starters and less the 10 races per day producing a plethora of odds-on favourites and wide-margin winners.
To say the racing industry has not flourished is an understatement. This scenario was eminently predictable as the change to the claiming system was established on the false premise that owning of, and trading in, race horses was no longer a sport but could be a viable business in a non-professional environment. Also, that it was necessary to protect the integrity of a racing product that was thriving.
This renewal of the Caymanas Park 1959, staged as the day’s eighth, ended in a runaway triumph for the US-bred maiden Geolithic (4-1). In front early, the three-year-old filly was always clear and won by 15 1/2 lengths. This was the first career success for recently licensed trainer Peter-John Parsard, who now joins the ranks of the increasingly successful cohort of the Jamaica Racing Commission trainers course graduating class of 2023.
For most top riders and even those less accomplished, securing a winning mount in an opening event is always most welcome as it is a confidence booster like no other.
Current leading reinsman Reyan Lewis had that experience 24 hours earlier riding a triple, but on this day, it was the turn of Phillip Parchment who won the 1,200-metre opener aboard even money favourite Stickydon saddled by Courtney Williams.
In race two, contested over the full 1,000 metres of the straight course, 1-9 fancied Nuclear Noon (Tevin Foster), declared by former three-time champion Anthony Nunes, was the first of his stable double. Nuclear Noon was always in control and finished nearly three lengths superior to its closest rival.
The third event, run at 1,820 metres was taken by Richard Azan’s inconsistent four-year-old Rainsville (4-1). With Javaniel Patterson at the reins, the grey gelding wore down dominant front runner She’sMy Friend inside the last 100 metres to score by three parts of a length.
Favourite at odds of 3-5 for the 1,400-metre fourth, Jungle Boogie, ridden by two-kilogramme claimer Matthew Bennett confirmed Nunes’ second on the nine-race card.
In race five, maiden Glittering Star (7-2), saddled by Lorne Kirlew and ridden by Paul Francis, led and never looked likely to be overtaken at any stage of the 1,200 metres of the event.
At the end of race six, it was time for Parchment to return to the winners’ enclosure for the unsaddling of the second of his three successes. The event, run over 1,000 metres straight, went to 5-1 chance True Bravado owned and trained by Donovan Russell. Parchment confirmed his best day of the current season with Steven Todd’s in-form Prince Sanjay. The four-year-old chestnut colt sprinted to victory by almost five lengths to secure race seven over the maximum distance of the straight course.
The closing event was won in a runaway manner by 2-1 gambled Rohan Kabir ridden by Raddesh Roman. Trainer Omar Williams, another member of the class of 2023, saddled the six-year-old gelding to get his career off the mark with this winner only his second declaration. One hopes that the 38 new graduates will find enough opportunities, which is doubtful against the background of a declining horse population.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Richard Azan for the return to form of enigmatic Rainsville. The colt displayed the Best Winning Gallop with the requisite speed, stamina and courage. Champion jockey Dane Dawkins needed his total physical skill set as well as the judgement of pace to secure Rainsville‘s victory by three parts of a length.