With the fillies having their prep runs on Saturday, March 11, today's 28th running of the $1.2-million Sir Howard Stakes at Caymanas Park marks the start of the 'Road to the Triple Crown' for the colts and geldings, and by all indications, it should be a walk in the park for Anthony Nunes' El Afortunado.
The Restricted Allowance II contest going six furlongs is run in honour of the outstanding racehorse Sir Howard, a multiple stakes winner who retired in 1984 as the leading all-time stakes winner with 10 wins.
El Afortunado (Bern Identity–Urgent Appeal) got off the mark from the second time of asking over five and a half furlongs (1,100m) on January 21.
The bay colt came from behind runners to win the race impressively, going away by 7 ¾ lengths in a time of 1:08.4. The final time wasn't all that impressive, but the manner in which he accelerated in deep stretch suggested that El Afortunado should be a good one in the making.
Now taking orders from Nunes, El Afortunado is expected to reward his new connections right away. He has worked well for this trophy race, galloping five furlongs (1,000m) on the round course in 1:02.1 alongside stablemate Volatility on Sunday, March 5. Jockey Anthony Thomas remains in the saddle aboard El Afortunado.
The contest is positioned as the seventh event on the nine-race card with a post time of 3:55 pm. First race is at 12:15 pm.
Whizz Kidd, from the barn of champion trainer Jason DaCosta, and Big Guy In TheSky, trained by Gary Subratie, should be in the running for second place here.
Whizz Kidd (Northern Giant–Mayken Joy) won going five furlongs round by a short head in a time of 1:02.4 on February 18. In this small field of six runners, the bay colt is expected to run well. Reyan Lewis replaces Robert Halledeen in the irons.
Big Guy In TheSky came to the races on December 3 of last year with high expectations, but didn't live up to the early hype. After his runaway win in a maiden race on January 28 over one mile (1,600m), Big Guy In TheSky was then expected to figure on last when finishing in fifth place by over 14 lengths over seven and a half furlongs (1,500m) on February 20. Big Guy In TheSky, who has been working well, should turn around his form on the premises when the race is being decided. Dane Dawkins remains in the saddle.
The other runners in the line-up are Kindred Spirit, Curlin's Noon, and Ridge Liner.
Kindred Spirit and Curlin's Noon are trained by Nunes. Kindred Spirit is the only maiden runner here, and that should remain the same after the race.
Curlin's Noon released the maiden tag on February 22 over six furlongs when beating Roaring Thunder by a head in a time of 1:15.3. Against these, Curlin's Noon is going to find repeating a tall order.
Ridge Liner was an easy 4 ¾-length winner over the straight course on February 5, beating Truly Begotten Sun in a time of 1:02.0. Ridge Liner, trained by Dale Murphy, is expected to run well; a winning one is, however, not on the table.
Ones to watch
Race 1) Silent Cat/XY Soul/Duke of Springs
Race 2) Gone A Negril/Hopenperseverance/Chiney Music
Race 3) Ha Gow Siu Mei/Denbigh Life/Donalmighty
Race 4) Party Princess/Sir Frederick/Hail Mary
Race 5) Kissmet/Wow How/Tequila Flight
Race 6) Salud/Blue Persuasion/Princess Sylvia
Race 7) El Afortunado/Big Buy In TheSky/Whizz Kidd
Race 8) True Bravado/Silver Fox/Joyful
Race 9) Super Duper/The Good Witch/Press Conference
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