AFTER scoring a long-overdue win a week ago, Jason DaCosta's American-bred Eagle One could make it two in two this season when he takes on five rivals in a three-year-old and upwards Open Allowance call for the St Catherine Cup over six furlongs (1,200 metres) at Caymanas Park today.
However, Eagle One's charge for victory on this occasion will by no means be easy, as he faces much more formidable foes than those in his recent run during which he had to dig deep to hold off El Profesor in an Overnight Allowance contest.
Fitzgerald Richards' duo of Patriarch and God of Love, the Anthony Nunes-conditioned Nuclear Noon, and Gary Subratie's foreigner Awesome Treasure are those Eagle One will have to topple in order to extend his winning run.
His stablemate Stranger Danger, who is a shadow of his former majestic self, is not expected to factor in this small field.
Post time for this penultimate event is 4:40pm. First post on the 10-race card is noon.
Having bettered stablemate King Arthur and Father Patrick over seven furlongs (1,400m) in a Grade One event last year, Eagle One's credentials are clear for all to see and suggest that he is still fairly comfortable in present company.
Though a furlong longer would have suited the Carlton Watson-owned charge even better, he will be getting an almost 10-pound reprieve from the 126 pounds he ran with in the class below, and that could work in his favour during the latter stages of the contest, provided he is within striking distance of the leaders.
Phillip Parchment has retained the ride at 53.5kg (117lb) for this knotty affair.
Richards' duo of Patriarch and God of Love will prove their usual competitive selves but will have distance and weight issues going against them.
Patriarch, to be ridden by Dane Dawkins at 53.0kg, was a winner in the grade below on the final race day last year, defying top weight of 57.0kg to beat Eagle One over the five-straight course.
The fleet-footed runner will be seeking to carry over that form for this seasonal bow and is most certainly expected to set off in front of rivals and prove hard to tag. His issue is whether he will be able to maintain his gallop at the business end of the race, as six furlongs is somewhat out of his comfort zone.
For God of Love, the distance is just perfect. However, as a consequence of his second-place finish behind Father Patrick in a Graded Stakes/Open Allowance contest on Boxing Day, he will be hampered with top weight 57.0kg (126lb) for this assignment.
Still, his chances of finishing tops are very alive as he is not only in the pink of form but will also be piloted by jockey Robert Halledeen, who himself has been dazzling of late.
As is customary, God of Love is once again expected to showcase his ability to be close enough to the pacesetter, which in this case will be his stablemate, and then challenge in the lane.
Nuclear Noon enters the St Catherine Cup nine pounds better off for finishing approximately two lengths behind God of Love on Boxing Day over five and a half furlongs (1,100m).
This weight differential gives Nuclear Noon a slight advantage over God of Love, with the extra half-furlong to his liking, and as such he is expected to be right there when this one is being decided.
Note, however, that Halledeen, who has been a regular aboard Nuclear Noon in his 16-race career, has now opted to go for God of Love, leaving Tevin Foster to partner the Nunes trainee today.
Meanwhile, Subratie's Awesome Treasure, stepping up in class, does so in good knick having romped a nine-furlong, 25-yard (1,820m) event by over eight lengths on New Year's Day.
Not only does Awesome Treasure get a substantial pull in the weights but this imported filly will not find the event too sharp, and with champion jockey Anthony Thomas now in the saddle a capital effort is definitely on the cards.
Ones to Watch
Race 1) Prince Sanjay/Pip/Slam
Race 2) Oh My Goodness/Gorgeous Gift/Silent Cat
Race 3) Babylike/Atomica/Power of Faith
Race 4) Basilicus/Papito/D'S Choice
Race 5) Key Witness/Baltusrol/Glock
Race 6) Plutologist/Shashamani Dance/Mister A
Race 7) Super Duper/Jordan Reign's/Will The Conquerer
Race 8) Little Groovy Thing/Carol Strike/Aunt Chico
Race 9) Eagle One/God Of Love/Nuclear Noon
Race 10) Buff Bay/Thegoodlife/Do Your Job