Another triple by Anthony ThomasFriday, August 13, 2021
BY WES MARTIN
Winning 4/5 favourite Bala Gris (Dick Cardenas), trained by Patrick Lynch, prior to this front-running success in the 1400-metre opening event, last won on March 17, 2020 and has only had seven races since. Two of which were on April 19 and July 31 this year. This third victory in Bala Gris' oft-interrupted 13-race career to date is a credit to the patience of Lynch. It is abundantly clear this horse presents a challenge to be race ready with any desirable degree of regularity.
Half an hour later trainer Nicholas Smith's opportunity to maintain his good strike-rate when Key Witness, his 35th starter of the season, came from being the early backmarker to a score by 1 1/2 lengths over the 1400-metre trip of the day's second event to register the stable's ninth success this year. Key Witness, at odds of 5/1, was to be the first of three winning mounts for the unassuming 2020 joint champion and current leader Anthony Thomas.
Predictably, the 1100-metre third event was won by 1/5 favourite Take Two (Dane Dawkins) cantering in 8 1/2 lengths clear of eight vastly inferior rivals for conditioner Welsh Soutar's second win from 33 starts this season.
The 1820-metre fourth event generated even less excitement as the Patrick Fong-trained 3/2 favourite As You wish (Matthew Bennett) thoroughly outstayed seven opposing pretenders by 14 1/2 lengths.
Having mentioned strike-rate earlier, it was time to give further credit to Gregory Forsyth for his first of two wins on the day. The shrewd claiming market player with this win took his tally to 15 races from 56 starts with the 1000-metre round fifth event going comfortably to JamalJames who scored by nearly three lengths starting as the 4/5 favourite. Thomas, therefore, secured the second of his three trips to the winners' enclosure.
Veteran horseman Wilfred Chin opened his 2021 account with 22/1 shot Willowdeen, partnered by part-timer Sadiki Blake on only his fourth mount this year, outsprinting 14 opponents by four lengths in the 1000-metre straight sixth event.
The declaration of the eye shield equipment failed to specify that Willowdeen, a horse with a habit of veering to the right, would only be allowed vision through the left eye wearing the modified gear. Blocking sight from the right eye of the gelding was an inspired change by Chin but the public was denied the benefit of the required fully informative declaration by this oversight.
With four of his charges topping the frame, champion trainer Anthony Nunes took full advantage of the Restricted Stakes entry conditions in the day's 1000-metre straight seventh event to saddle five of the seven starters declared. Six runners eventually faced the starter and it was an encouraging and welcome return to form by Go Deh Girl (Dane Nelson). In pursuit of stablemate Hoist The Mast (Shane Ellis), the US-bred three-year-old Go Deh Girl, winner of her first two local races, struck the front 100 metres out and scored by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of 9/5.
Loose Ball, tuned by Ryan Derby and ridden by Tevin Foster, won the 1000-metre straight eighth race in an 8/1 upsetting gallop.
For his second win on the card, Nunes saddled four of the ten declarations for the ninth which resulted in the numbers of three of four his charges in lights on the frame in the top positions. Chandra's Law (Omar Walker) held on by the narrowest possible winning margin of a nose at 3/1 from Badgyalriri (Dane Nelson) with long time front-runner Vanessa (Dick Cardenas) a length and a half away in third.
Thomas had his third on the card and 71st of the season while Forsyth confirmed his second on the card and 16th for the year with three-year-old maiden Maya coming home three and a quarter lengths clear of her nearest rival in the 1500-metre age group event at odds of 5/2.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Wilfred Chin for the sudden return to form of Willowdeen, a horse who was behind by a combined total 117 ½ lengths in its last nine starts. The Best Winning Gallop accolade is reserved for Chandra's Law whose triumph was based on speed plus courage with Omar Walker, who provided the requisite assistance getting the Jockeyship Award.