The day Winston Griffiths was honoured by Santorini
Review of race day – Saturday, September 4, 2021Tuesday, September 07, 2021
BY WES MARTIN
The inaugural staging of the Winston “Fanna” Anthony Griffiths OD Classic was the feature on the 11-race card, but before reviewing what was a great race befitting the occasion one must take issue with the promoting company for omission of the appropriate information in the official form book.
There must never to be a presumption that new punters ought to be aware of the exploits of the now-retired great reinsman or those still around from then have instant recall of the specifics of Griffiths' illustrious career. For the record, the pseudonym “Fanna” came from the effective style of the use of his whip to virtually brush the flanks of his mounts as opposed to most other riders whose actions were seemingly designed to peal flesh from that part of the bodies of horses.
Originally from Grange Hill, Westmoreland, Griffiths' career started in 1975 under the tutelage of late trainer Charlie James, and had the most productive and historic partnership with former 13-time champion trainer Philip Feanny. By the time he retired in 2015 he was a five-time champion and was seen in the winners' enclosure on 1,615 occasions — making him the leading rider of races won in the English-speaking Caribbean. Griffiths won the Derby 11 times, has ridden five Triple Crown winners, and a total of 44 Classic winners to have his exploits acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The “Fanna” Classic saw the introduction of a new distance of 1,900 metres and was won by unsuccessful Classic aspirant Santorini (9/1) trained by two-time champion Anthony Nunes. Linton Steadman rode an educated race as Santorini swerved to the right on leaving the gates and was last passing the winning post for the first time. The popular reinsman saved ground negotiating the clubhouse turn and bided his time off the pace down the backstretch before delivering a decisive challenge for the lead inside the last 150 metres in a time of 2:02.1 for an automatic track record.
Panamanian-born Dick Cardenas, a former local champion, had his first of five successes on the day when he won the 1300-metre opening event partnering Synchronize (5/2) for trainer Dale Murphy's first win of the season from 24 starts.
The next hour belonged to Cardenas as he followed up with victory aboard Silent Mission (2/5) in the 1,000-metre second to give trainer Jason DaCosta the first of a double, then made most of the running with the consistent six-year-old horse Lightning McQueen (3/5) to win the 1,200-metre third for conditioner Clifford Atkinson Jr.
There was a respite from the Cardenas blitz when joint champion and current runaway leader Anthony Thomas induced Paul Charlton's It's All I (3/5) to lead all the way in the 1,100-metre fourth event.
Cardenas service was resumed with the Andrew McDonald-trained nine-year-old gelding Smokey Topaz (7/2) scoring in the fifth and the jockey's five-timer was eventually capped by the Patrick Lynch-saddled Curlin's Flight (9/5) over the 900 metres straight tenth race.
Specialist in-form sprint race rider Dane Dawkins came home 4½ lengths clear aboard Patrick Taylor's Bridal Blush (9/5) in the sixth event over the distance of 900 metres for an automatic track record of 54.2 seconds for the distance.
The 1,600-metre seventh race was won in an 11-length runaway by the Richard Azan-conditioned Zabratone (2/5) ridden by apprentice Youville Pinnock.
In race eight, over 1,400 metres, lightweight rider Jerome Innis assisted to facilitate trainer Jason DaCosta's double success by keeping even money favourite Three Times Lucky in front and four lengths clear at the finish.
Victory by trainer Ryan Darby's Loose Ball (Tevin Foster) over the 1,000-metre straight 11th and final event at odds of 7/5 favourite made it a very good day for the form players.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Anthony Nunes for the return to form of Santorini to defeat Derby runner-up Billy Whizz and delivering the Best Winning Gallop in the process.
The Jockeyship Award is deservingly acknowledging Linton Steadman for his wonderful judgement of pace and tactical acumen on as challenging a ride as Santorini.