Last update: 11-Dec-2013 4:05 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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All set for War of Words in Arima
War of Words will attempt to become just the third Triple Crown winner at Santa Rosa Park, Arima, when horse racing continues Tuesday.
The National Gas Company (NGC)-sponsored Republic Day holiday card is the biggest of the season as 140 horses have been declared to compete in 11 events.
The day will feature the most prestigious event on the calendar and one of the world’s best riders will be in action down here for the first time. In addition to Venezuelan Javier Castellano, who has over 3,500 career winners—with more than 260 this season—and is the leading jockey in the United States, Rajiv Maragh, will also be making his Santa Rosa Park debut.
The young Jamaican is closing in on 1,500 career winners and is in the top 20 in the United States this year with 88 winners. His uncle Allen Maragh and fellow Jamaican Shane Ellis along with Barbadians Antonio Whitehall and Antonio Bishop are the other overseas-based riders scheduled to compete on Tuesday.
And the list of overseas-based jockeys who occasionally ride at Santa Rosa also includes Canadian based Emile Ramsammy, the country’s most successful rider with over 2,600 career winners.
But even if there was not a single star rider in action it is still a day which no true race fan would want to miss, as after all it is Derby Day.
The Derby is the most prestigious race in any country and it is no different in Trinidad as every owner dreams of winning the race for three-year-old horses.
Unfortunately, there will be a considerable amount of sadness attached to the day this time as Juan Navarro got a heart-attack while driving on Monday and passed away. The popular 57-year-old owner won the CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) for the first time last year with Free Passage and is being represented in this year’s field by Fire Light.
The NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) will be the penultimate event of the afternoon and is billed to be contested at 4.45 pm.
This year’s edition of the Blue Riband event has drawn even more attention than usual because of the presence of War of Words and Bigman in Town.
The NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) is the final leg of the local Triple Crown and in the 19 editions of the series since centralisation in 1994, just two horses have won all three legs.
Carnival Messiah did the trick in 2001 and it has been ten years since the feat was last achieved by his Glenn Mendez trained stable companion, Top of the Class.
With a victory in the NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR), War of Words will join them as he has already been successful when the series served off with the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR) on Easter Monday, April 1 and in the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR) on the May 31 Indian Arrival Day holiday card.
The Anthony Wight-owned gelding was the overwhelming favourite in both previous legs, but despite the fact that he is unbeaten from three outings over two turns, he is not expected to be the top fancy this time.
That honour will most likely go to Bigman in Town, who finished fourth as the favourite at home in the Jamaica Derby in June and is considered “tied by the post” after winning his only start at Santa Rosa by 21 lengths five weeks ago.
Fans are of the opinion that this chestnut would run rings over the opposition with anyone on his back, but Baskaran Bassawh is taking no chances and has convinced Castellano to come down and partner his star.
Twelve other West Indian-bred three-year-olds have been declared to go to post over 2,000 metres for a whopping first prize of $300,000.
Eight of the 14 runners are Jamaican bred as, in addition to War of Words and Bigman in Town, the field also includes; Prince Zeshan, Perfect Day, Fire Light, Urban Knight, Plum Plum and Soca Train.
Barbados will be represented by Khartoum and Nekitta, who won the first two legs of their Triple Crown, leaving just four locally-bred runners; Pot of Gold, Headline News, Chase the Dragon and Spotted Eagle in the $500,000 contest.
Pot of Gold , who has only been ridden by Ramsammy in his five start career and will have the services of the 50-year-old again, is by far the best of the locals. The Roma Sagan Maraj son of Gold Market finished second in the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR), third in the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR) and then won the $500,000 Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Breeders’ Classic (GR.IRT&T) last time out on Emancipation Day, August 1.
The Mohali Stables owned Prince Zeshan is the other member of the big four and he will have the services of Rajiv Maragh.
Last year’s Champion Juvenile Male has returned to his best, but he was not earlier this season and still managed to finish third in the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR) and second in the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR).
John O’Brien not only handles War of Words, Prince Zeshan and Pot of Gold, but the champion trainer is also responsible for Chase the Dragon and Headline News.
Both improving locals may be able to grab a minor end of the purse and Perfect Day—Bassawh’s second string runner who is unbeaten from two starts in Trinidad, including the Neal & Massy Oaks Stakes (GR.I)—may also be able to find a place on the board.
Derby Day to be seen live on Flow Channel 999 and on CNC3 TV.
Post time for the 32nd round of the Arima Race Club’s 2013 Season is 10.45 am.
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