KINGSTON, Jamaica - Early afternoon on the day was especially quiet as only a small gathering of patrons was on hand to witness the opening event.
The 1,600-metre contest was won most convincingly by trainer Tensang Chung’s importee Duke Of Springs (USA) ridden by Tevin Foster for the first of this rider’s two wins on the day. Held up over half-dozen lengths off the pace, the sizeable six-year-old horse strolled passed the front-runners at the distance and coasted in 13 ½ lengths ahead.
Speedy five-year-old mare Chiney Music (6-1), trained by Wilfred Chin outpaced five rivals with infrequently used reinsman Sadiki Blake getting an extremely rare opportunity to ride into the winners’ enclosure. Chiney Music jumped out to the left and raced against the unfavourable far side rails for 450 of the 900 metres straight gallop. Once Blake was able to shift her to the centre of the track, she responded immediately to sprint away to a two-and-half-length advantage.
In for a claiming tag of $750,000, recent winner Ha Gow Siu Mei (Linton Steadman) was bet as the even money favourite. In pursuit of 9-5 chance Denbigh Life (Samantha Fletcher) the Anthony Nunes-trained four-year-old colt failed by a head to get on terms with the game mare. The winner was saddled by Patrick Fong for the 1,000-metre round gallop to claim the spoils of race three.
It is a rarity for trainer Howard McLeod, who has handled 13-year-old Sir Frederick throughout most of its career, to declare to compete over distances on the round course. Bet at 2-1 for the 1,100 metres of the fourth event, the aged horse was off a step slowly but sprinted to take command of the early fractions. Well-rated to the top of the home stretch by pilot Shavon Townsend, Sir Frederick ran well from the distance to score by nearly three lengths.
Tevin Foster secured his second for another good day in the saddle with the Nunes schooled maiden Wow How scoring a two-length victory in race five which was contested over 1,300 metres. This was the trainer’s first of double success on the card. Two pairs of sprinters, racing together in front with the other pair disputing third position at a pace too strong to be sustained, had no answer for the finishing speed of the 5-2 bet Wow How.
Betting favourite at odds of 6-5 maiden Princess Sylvia (Shane Richardson) having the third start of her career in the 1,400-metre sixth event took on nine rivals. Schooled by former 14-time champion Phillip Feanny, the small progeny of Soul Warrior handled the starting gate perfectly in direct contrast to the previous occasions when she hesitated and was slowly into stride. In front immediately, she raced under pressure from chief rival Salud (Christopher Mandeen) but was better by three-and-a-half lengths at the finish.
The important Classic trial Sir Howard Stakes over 1,200 metres was the feature event on the nine-race card and run as the seventh. Winners of this second season Futurity have proven to be competitive in the restricted three-year-old major events of many racing years in the past.
El Afortunado (Anthony Thomas), saddled by Nunes for a stable double, was backed as the 1-9 favourite. The Classics aspiring colt led early but allowed chief rival Big Guy InThe Sky (Dane Dawkins) to control the pace from 800 metres out. El Afortunado engaged in a pursuit which ended with the lead 100 metres out to go on for a three-and-a-half-length triumph.
Former five-time champion Trevor Simpson aged 54, riding overseas for the last decade-and-a-half, rode winner number 1,500 at Caymanas Park on his annual working vacation here. Soul Amia (5-1) declared by in-form Keffin Murray looked in excellent condition and ran gamely to score by a head in the 1,000-metre straight gallop of race eight with Simpson making the difference between success and failure.
The closing event, restricted to non-winners at the Overnight level, was won in a career-best effort by Press Conference, a five-year-old gelding, bred, owned and trained by Carl Anderson. Competing with top weight the well-built progeny of Twilight Time was kept balanced perfectly by Bebeto Harvey to deliver victory in a hugely competitive event run over the 1,000-metre straight course.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Carl Anderson for the performance of Press Conference, a horse whose previous finish was just under three lengths in a race over 1,820 metres. Today’s victory by Press Conference is, by any measure, the Best Winning Gallop and the Jockeyship Award goes to Harvey for executing such an exacting task with confidence and skill.