The highlight of this year's racing season was run off on September 24 with all of the best horses in the country on display in the two feature races - the Trinidad Derby and the Diamond Stakes.
Expectedly, the Trinidad Derby concerned four horses, three Jamaican bred and one locally bred. These four horses have been the standout three-year-olds of the season and they maintained their form in the Derby itself.
Juice Man, the Derby winner, confirmed his position as the best three-year-old in the country with a game victory in the event in excellent time. In so doing, he blew away the theory that any horse that works exceptionally fast in the week leading up to the event, tends to have run their race before entering the starting stalls. Hopefully, we will not hear anything about this in the future.
Connections of the winner now believe that he can be competitive in the Classico Internationale to be run off in Florida this year. One cannot blame connections for being ambitious but horses from the English-speaking Caribbean have failed to make an impression in previous runnings of this race and while the form of the other runners is unknown, if experience is relevant, there are certain to be many monsters waiting for our competitors.
Second-placed Apocalypse completed a rare feat of being runner-up in each Triple Crown event, a feat previously done on the international scene by the great Alydar in the 1980s.
Third-place finisher Making Headlines may be the one for the future since it is well known that the locally bred horses take much longer to mature than their Jamaican bred counterparts. If this holds, Making Headlines may prove the best of these in his four-year-old campaign. He is a stout stayer and was doing his best work in the closing stages.
The fourth-place finisher Regal Intension cemented the view by many turfites that his early successes and Guineas win was a result of his being much more advanced than his contemporaries, who have all now caught up and overtaken this colt. The future for all of these runners now lie in competing with the older West Indian-bred and unfortunately, there are two four-year-olds, who will be mighty competitors in later races.
These two four-year-olds dominated the imported class in the second feature of the day, the Diamond Stakes. The performances of General JN and Master of War this year have turfites regretting the absence of 2018 Derby winner Cape Canaveral this year.
These two Jamaican bred four-year-olds, with no weight concessions from the imported class, fought out a brilliant finish to what has been described as the best race for the season so far.
The best horses in the country, including the 2018 Stewards and Gold Cup winners, past "Horses of the Year", previous Classic winners, Gold Cup runner-ups and prior winners of the Diamond Stakes, were all made to look fairly pedestrian by these two colts.
For General JN, it was his fourth consecutive victory of the season and connections now rightfully believe that he can be competitive outside of Trinidad. For Master of War, it was a return to form after two disappointing runs and whatever troubled him in those races are now clearly behind him. These two four-year-olds are expected to meet the Derby colts in the Caribbean Champion Stakes at the end of October. If all of these horses line up on the day, it will be a race worth travelling miles to witness. The three-year-olds will be receiving a weight concession from the older runners and it will be fascinating to see if that is sufficient to bring those runners closer together.
Republic Day also saw the first two-year-old race of the season and two nice performances from the Harold Chadee trained Jamaican bred duo of American Traveller and Golden D'or. While the race was won by the former, it was the second place colt, a half brother to the stables' Regal Intension, who caught the eye with a strong finish to be only beaten one length at the finish. It is very early days for the two-year-olds but given the quality displayed by these two colts, we could be in for some very nice juvenile races this year.