Mary Camacho could not have made a better decision in keeping the aptly named Derby favourite Onetokeep. In just 24 hours, this gelding could write himself into the annal of local racing history, while becoming a millionaire and in so doing, give Camacho her first success in the Blue Riband event, the CNG Derby. One of the largest crowds is expected tomorrow at Santa Rosa Park in Arima, for the National Gas Company’s (NGC) race day, which will feature two main events—the grade one Derby over 2,000 metres and the grade two High Propulsion Diamond Stakes over 1,350 metres. The main attraction will see the Midsummer Classic winner, Onetokeep, attempting to win the final jewel of local racing’s Triple Crown—the Derby. The John O’Brien-trained gelding will have his sternest test to date when he takes on Free Passage, Big Thing and The Big Squeeze. Onetokeep has galloped extremely well in preparation for this, and last Wednesday, did a pleasing run over 1,000 metres, recording a time of 1:02.00 for the trip, with Brian Harding doing very little.
My nod goes to the champion trainer O’Brien, as he knows how to prepare his horses to win the big ones. In addition to this, Harding is riding a “crest of a wave” at present and winning this Derby will be all he will be waiting on, after riding his 1,000th winner last week. After looking at Onetokeep claiming the inaugural running of the Betting Levy Board (BLB) T&T Breeders Classic over 1,800 metres on the main track, I am certain that barring injury, this gelding will win the Derby on Republic Day. I was baffled by the manner of the gelding’s victory. From my perspective, Onetokeep would have won by a margin just over 1/2 to 3/4 further than he won the Midsummer Classic. Punters were in for a surprise as Harding flew the son of Big Country/Bandora out of the boxes and he led for a short time before Harding decided to press the pace. Onetokeep tugged his rider’s hand out going down the back, before Harding gave him an inch of rein which saw him race into the lead at the far turn. Once in the lead, the Camacho-owned gelding never looked in danger of getting into a battle with any of his rivals. Yet, there was better to come, as on straightening up, Harding set the gelding alight and Onetokeep turned a competitive event into a romp.
With that win, Onetokeep sailed away as the top money-spinner for this year and the $300,000 first prize cheque could see Onetokeep become the fastest millionaire in the history of the game in T&T. The aptly named Onetokeep still has the Trinidad Derby and the Champion Stakes ahead and, should he be victorious in both events, could win another $500,000. Looking at the running of some of the top three-year-olds in BLB Classic on August 1, some of the horses were ridden differently. The first horse I will look at is Big Thing, which was ridden cautiously by Nobel Abrego. On this occasion, Abrego rode Big Thing close to pace and though he had every chance 500 metres out, he never quickened in the final 300 metres as has been the case in all his races. Certainly, Cornelio Valasquez will be riding this with one run in mind tomorrow, if he challenges from the far turn, then he could make a race of it.
The Big Squeeze, winner of the Gleneagle Stakes, is a thorough stayer but like Big Thing was ridden much too close to the pace. The Michael Carew (Jnr) trained has proven that she can stay but prompting pace will not help her cause, if she is to beat Onetokeep. The Derick Mosca-trained Free Passage which has won four of his last five starts and is unbeaten on the main track, can upset Onetokeep. The gelding has shown significant improvement over the past two months and the manner in which he won last time out, makes him the biggest danger to Onetokeep. The record will show that T&T-bred fillies finished first, second and third in the Gleneagle Stakes a month ago but this is a different kettle of fish. I don’t think Onetokeep is in the same league as Top of The Class or Terremoto but with a “free passage” in sight, Onetokeep looks the winner of the upcoming Trinidad Derby.