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Quality horses, poor administration

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The 2013 racing year was characterised by class and chaos in equal quantities as the betting public continued to be flummoxed by quality racehorses, but maladministration. There were 43 racing days for the year, and this year, rather than focusing on the negatives, which is way too easy, we will place the focus on the animals that keep all of us coming back to the sport every day. There will be other occasions for us to discuss the maladministration that continues to plague the sport. We will start our racing review with the juveniles that ignite the enthusiasm for the future.
Four juveniles excited the public. Two fillies stood out—the Jamaican bred Soca Rhapsody and the locally bred Maranza. Soca Rhapsody was a very impressive winner on her debut by almost 15 lengths, while Maranza finished runner up in her first two starts, including the Stud Farm Association Stakes. The two fillies squared off in the Republic St Ann’s Stakes on Boxing Day, and in what turned out to be a one horse race, Soca Rhapsody waltzed home unchallenged winning in excess of ten lengths and confirming herself as the Champion Two Year Old Filly.  


The colts were much more competitive, with four winners lining up in the Republic St James’ Stakes. They were Momentum, the Jamaican-bred colt who won the Nursery Stakes, Dark Treasure, a locally-bred colt who won the Stud Farm Association Stakes, Country Boy, a locally-bred colt who won the Futurity Stakes and Eye See You, a Jamaican-bred colt who won his maiden. The four lined up with five other maidens. In a slightly disappointing event, Dark Treasure never really figured after enduring an interrupted preparation leaving Momentum to ease clear of Eye See You for a comfortable win and to wrap up the title of Champion Two Year Old Colt. Momentum completed the distance in a time almost two seconds faster than the filly and so could be considered the overall champion. The West Indian-bred three-year olds provided a number of fascinating races. At the start of the year, all of the hype surrounded the Mohali Stables unbeaten St James winner, Prince Zeshan. This colt was to prove a bitter disappointment. Runner up in the St James was another Jamaican-bred colt, War of Words, owned by Capt Anthony Wight. This colt would go on to sweep all before him while winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Guineas and the Midsummer Classic, before taking a four race win streak into the Trinidad Derby. 


At the same time, Headline News, who had looked exceptional in his one juvenile start before suffering a serious injury was gradually making his way back to the racetrack. Other locally-bred colts like Chase the Dragon, Gold Rush and Pot of Gold also staked their claim with some outstanding performances. While all of this was taking place Baskaran Bassawh’s Jamaican foaled colt, Bigman In Town, had flattered to deceive in Jamaica with two impressive early wins followed by a number of disappointing defeats in the first two Jamaican classics of the year. Bassawh then imported his colt for the Trinidad Derby. In what proved to be an outstanding race, Bigman in Town stymied War of Words’ Triple Crown attempt with a comfortable victory. Headline News finished fourth in his third start since his comeback but quickly rebounded and two starts later squared off against the Derby winner in the Caribbean Champion Stakes. The two colts, now both trained by John O’Brien, battled down the straight before Bigman prevailed by a head. The two colts lined up for a decider in the Republic Bank Gold Cup. In what proved to be one of the best races of the year, Headline News got his revenge with a rousing stretch run. Race fans have a lot to look forward to in 2014 as both colts will be competing at the highest level in the staying division.

The older creoles were dominated by one horse following the death of the champion Bruceontheloose. That horse was Galveston, who had shown in last year’s Gold Cup that he was a much stouter stayer than Bruce. Galveston won five of his first seven starts including the Caribbean Turf Championship, Arima Race Club Cup, Independence Cup and Stud Farm Association National Stakes. He finished third in the other two events, the President’s Cup and the Caribbean Championship Stakes before lining up for the Republic Bank Gold Cup on Boxing Day. Last year’s Derby winner, Free Passage, also performed creditably. His best performances came in the Starlight Stakes and Eric Durant Memorial while he was also third in both the Diamond Stakes and Independence Cup. Galveston finished a game fifth in the Gold Cup but was giving the younger generation in excess of six kilos, 2014 will see them all much closer in the weights and this just adds to the excitement. The top imported horse was found among the sprinters with Crime of Passion, a Canadian-bred son of Lawyer Ron, taking almost all before him in the sprints. This colt was an impressive winner of both the Stewards Cup and Santa Rosa Dash for the open horses as well as the Imported Three Year Old sprint.


Also taking his rank among the imported horses were the top class Signal Alert and Sacred Trust, who continued to perform at a high level. Sacred Trust ran out a surprise winner of the Diamond Stakes but otherwise would finish behind both Crime of Passion and Signal Alert in all of the other major sprints. Sacred Trust also showed her versatility when winning the Sian’s Gold Sprint on New Year’s Day. While he was unable to win any of the big sprints, Signal Alert again showed his consistency with runner up finishes in the Santa Rosa Dash, Diamond Stakes and Stewards Cup before lining up for the Republic Bank Gold Cup on Boxing Day. Among the imported stayers, only Gabby’s Gold made any impression on the betting public when surprising all in the President’s Cup at 11/1. He was then off the track until returning in the Gold Cup. While not recording any wins, other good performances came from the likes of Nominee, Strikes Not Spares and Woden.


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