Race Day review – Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Featured on the programme of 10 races was the 114th staging of the traditional 1,600-metre Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes Grade 1 Futurity.
As the breeding industry struggles to sustain viability, only 10 of the limited foals’ crop of 2022 were considered forward enough to contest a race with a total purse of $4.0 million with a winner’s share set at $2.16 million.
Although it was odds of 9-1 against Intrestntimesahead, ridden by Phillip Parchment for current champion and 2023 designate Jason DaCosta, it was entirely predictable as the colt was one of only two in the line-up and won its 1,300-metre prep race cantering in by a very wide margin.
Intrestntimesahead beat Run Julie Run (7-2), partnered by former six-time champion Omar Walker, by three lengths with Fastnfuriouslinks (5-1) third by nearly 11 lengths.
It was good to see Oniel Ricardo Mullings in double riding form on the Boxing Day programme. The veteran reinsman performance emphasises that horsemanship, patient strategic and tactical execution will always deliver the requisite results.
Mullings has practised his profession at many tracks in the United States and has suffered injuries. Corrective bone surgeries included the use of metal fasteners, which has set off detectors at airports since and would have ended the careers of most others.
Aboard 5-1 shot Lion Talk for trainer Ryan Williams, Mullings held up the five-year-old chestnut horse off the pace of battling leaders Tequila Blue and My Smokey with the latter turning for home clear. Making ground against the far rails Lion Talk‘s sustained finishing pace ensured a late lead of a half a length over My Smokey at the end of the 1,200 metres.
In a hugely competitive eighth event over a similar distance, Mullings, to confirm his double, was at his absolute best on City Hawk (4-1), saddled by Ricardo Brown, to score by a hard-fought three parts of a length.
Interestingly, races two, three and four resulted in claiming jockeys earning photo-ops in the winners’ enclosure. In the 1,100-metre second event, Jordan Barrett’s two-kilogramme claim aided Welsh Soutar’s Alexa’s Lodge to justify even-money favourite status by two lengths.
In contrast, Samantha Fletcher’s similar weight claim to Barrett was surplus to requirement as Smoke Haze, declared by Donwell Dawes, won the 1,100-metre third by over nine lengths as the even money favourite.
Then in race four over 1,100 metres, three-year-old debutant Cappuccino (6-1), schooled by Lawrence Freemantle Jr, battled to win by a short head over 7-2 bet Glittering Magnum (disqualified from second) under expert handling by three-kilogramme claimer Shane Richardson in the close finish.
Shavon Townsend has a three-kilogramme allowance and was the fourth claiming jockey to be successful on the day. Owner/breeder/trainer Carl Anderson, in the 2023 top 10 in the three categories which is a rarity, posted Press Conference (9-2) in superb condition. The five-year-old scored a narrow but decisive victory in the closing event.
Townsend’s celebratory gesture of pointing his whip to ridicule the rider of the runner-up bordered on “antics in the saddle” at the end of the 1,300-metre gallop.
SVREL racing analyst Michael Cain Jr, who doubles as a trainer after graduating with the class of 2023, had his first success on his 19th declaration. His three-year-old maiden colt Home Alone (5-2), ridden by 2021 champion Christopher Mamdeen, scored by four and a half lengths in race five contested by a field of nine over 1,500 metres.
In the sixth event, run at 1,000 metres straight, winner Market Place (4-1), running from post position six in the centre of the track, drifted to the unfavourable far side rails but under the guidance of outgoing 2022 champion Dane Dawkins, still secured victory by a head for conditioner Robert Pearson.
Race seven was a virtual match between the chief protagonists Anonymous (Raddesh Roman) and Eazy Peazy (Tevin Foster) bet 8-5 joint favourites. It was a war of attrition until the former trained by Anthony Nunes prevailed by a head when the winning post signalled the end of the 1,400-metre gallop. Significantly the third horse to finish was outclassed by over 12 lengths.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Lawrence Freemantle Jr for the preparation of winning debutant Cappuccino to deliver the Best Winning Gallop displaying speed, stamina and courage at the first time of asking. Oneil Mullings deservedly gets the Jockeyship Award as his riding double combined winning distances was just over one length.