Last update: 09-Dec-2013 1:43 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Free Passage, Woden in mouth-watering contest
Free Passage will square off with Woden when racing continues at Santa Rosa Park, Arima, tomorrow with the 35th round of the Arima Race Club’s season.
The Derick Mosca trained runners are among eight 100-70 rated horses declared to compete in the penultimate event of an eight-race card. It is the feature event of the day and could be one of the most compelling staying events of the season.
Woden and Free Passage are the highest rated horses in the field, but Buffalo Soldier, also handled by Mosca, Silverleo and Toro Rosso also has to be considered.
It will be the first non-graded or Stakes race that Free Passage has been involved in since the end of May. Last year’s NGC CNG Trinidad Derby Stakes (GR.IR) winner has not only raced against the top class horses in his last four starts he has more than held his own.
Free Passage finished third in the Diamond Stakes (GR.II) last time out on Republic Day, September 24, over a trip short of his best; 1,350 metres, after occupying the same position three weeks earlier in the Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup (GR.I).
That 1,800 metres contest was switched from the turf to the main contest, which was the case when the Jamaican bred four-year-old beat the cream of the crop for the only time in the Eric “Colt” Durant Memorial on June 19. That $150,000 affair was over 1,750 metres, the same distance as Saturday’s race.
Woden has never raced against the top class horses, but he has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that he is one of the best stayers in the country.
After finishing fifth in his first start in this country over 1,250 metres at the end of May, the American-bred three-year-old has raced exclusively over Saturday’s trip and has not tasted defeat.
Woden’s fourth and final victory was by far his most impressive as the son of Bernstein slammed a high quality field of 90-60 rated horses by five lengths in a very good time of 1:50.4 on Republic Day.
Buffalo Soldier, who like Free Passage had held his own against the top-class stayers three times recently, was involved in this race and could only finish third, however Merlin Samlalsingh’s American-bred four-year-old is capable of turning the tables on Woden as he will be four kilos better off on this occasion.
Buffalo Soldier will also have a significant weight advantage over Free Passage as he will be six kilos better off from their last meeting when he gave the “creole” three kilos and finished only 1¼ lengths behind in the Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup on Independence Day, August 31.
On the subject of weight, Silverleo could be in the very best position.
The American-bred five-year-old finished just half-length behind Buffalo Soldier when he was beaten by Woden into fourth by six lengths on Republic Day. Silverleo was receiving 2.5 kilos from the winner on that occasion, but the John O’Brien owned and trained chestnut will be 8.5 kilos lighter this time.
The other horse to consider seriously is Toro Rosso.
Making his first appearance since throwing his jockey in the Champagne Stakes (GR.I) on Easter Monday, April 1, the American-bred five-year-old ran a very creditable sixth in the Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup (GR.I), 6¼ lengths behind winner Galveston.
It was his first start in five months and Toro Rosso, who finished only a length behind Free Passage and will be 4.5 kilos better off this time, should be much better prepared for this assignment.
The field also contains 2010 Derby (GR.IR) runner-up Go For The Gold as well as Officer Ike and Gabby’s Wonderboy, making his first appearance in over 19 months.
Like Woden, Officer and Gabby’s Wonderboy are owned by Shivam Maharaj. After winning the inaugural Sugar Mike Stakes just a week earlier, Indian Medicine will make a quick return to action.
The three-year-old, bred and trained by Harold Chadee, is unbeaten in sprints on the turf and will be going after victory No. 6 when she steps up in class to oppose ten 90-60 rated horses over 1,100 metres on the lawn.
Harry Could Dance, who is also trained by Chadee for his son Dave, and Key Chain are back for revenge after placing second and third, respectively, in last Saturday’s $150,000 contest.
Also included in the field for the 1:10PM contest are Jozel, Wild Shuffle, Away Johannesburg and Onefortheroad, who placed third in the Derby (GR.IR) and fourth in the Easter Guineas (GR.IR) last year but has never competed on the grass.
This will be the first of four HI-5 betting races and since no one was successful in this wager in the final event of last Saturday’s card, over $31,700 will be carried over into this race.
Punters will also be attempting to select the first five finishers in the fourth, sixth and curtain events.
The fourth, involving 13 horses rated 40 and lower over 1,500 metres on the turf, is scheduled to be contested at 2.26 pm and the day’s activities is billed to conclude on the same track at 5 pm with 13 West Indian-bred three-year-old and over maidens doing battle over 1,100 metres.
The only Hi-5 race on the main track is the sixth, a 1,200 metres contest involving ten 45 and lower rated horses at 3.42 pm.
There will be two Pick 4s and more than $13,000 has been carried over into the first; races one through four.
The Soca 6 will begin at 1.46 pm in the third race, a 1,750-metre contest involving seven 60-45 rated horses, including Lady Angelica, the third placed finisher in last year’s Gleneagle Stakes (GR.IIIRF) and Neal & Massy Oaks Stakes (GR.IIRF).
The gates will open for the first time for the afternoon at 12.30 pm with an intriguing 1,300 metres contest.
The field of six includes Central Square, attempting to complete a hat-trick of wins, Fire Light, who finished eighth in the Derby (GR.IR), Director Dream, the fourth-placed finisher in last year’s Midsummer Classic (GR.I) in his first race since last year’s Derby (GR.IR) , and an unraced American-bred juvenile Holy Man.
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