HIGH OCTANE and CHASE THE DRAGON scorched the track when horse racing continued at Santa Rosa Park, Arima on Saturday February 22, 2014.
The John O’Brien trained horses impressively won the two feature events, but HOLY MAN and CORONEO also sparkled during the eighth round of the Arima Race Club’s 2014 Season.
On a day full of high quality performances, HIGH OCTANE delivered the most outstanding of them all in the feature attraction of the ten race card.
The fact that the son of Charismatic Cat was racing for the first time and missed the break made no difference in the end as he pulled away in the closing stages to handily win the Royal Colours Classic by 3½ lengths.
After they had battled neck-and-neck virtually all the way in the 1,300 metres contest for locally bred three-year-olds, MARKET RALLY edged last year’s Futurity Stakes winner COUNTRY BOY by a short-head for second place in the race named after the legendary locally bred horse of the early 1980’s, but the Stewards deemed that the 6/1 shot had caused interference to the 7/5 favourite and reversed the placings.
DESERT GOLD, the other newcomer in the $150,000 contest, rounded out the top four, while last year’s St Ann’s Stakes (GR.IRF) runner-up MARANZA, who won the FCB Stud Farm Association Trial Stakes last time out on New Year’s Day after placing second all three times last year, ended up sixth of the 11 contestants.
MARKET RALLY, who finished ahead of just two horses in her only other start three weeks earlier, showed just why she was the odds-on favourite on debut and was still well supported as only three horses carried more money than her.
Two of them were newcomers DESERT GOLD and HIGH OCTANE, both sent off at 4/1, and the latter looked in a class of his own and he could be a major force in the upcoming “Classic” races.
The gelding could make his next appearance in the Flamingo Stakes (GR.IIRC&G) over 1,350 metres on March 22.
HIGH OCTANE came out of the gates at the rear of the field, but had already found himself in fourth turning for home and he sprinted clear of MARKET RALLY and COUNTRY BOY when last year’s joint Champion Jockey Wilmer Galviz asked for his effort in mid-stretch.
The victory was worth $90,000 to the S.I.R. Stables, sons of late legendary owner Nazir Ahamad.
CHASE THE DRAGON would have definitely preferred much further than 1,100 metres, but he showed his class again to win the Top Of The Class in comfortable fashion by 1¼ lengths in the hands of three-time defending Champion Jockey Brian Boodramsingh.
The evens betting favourite gradually worked his way through the field and ended up coasting home after picking up the running from long-time leader HYAT PRINCESS midway down the home stretch.
ATLANTICA, who had won four times in turf sprints and was attempting to complete a hat-trick of wins, closed late to deny last year’s Derek Cozier Classic (GR.IIR) winner HYAT PRINCESS the runner-up spot by 1½ lengths.
The four-year-old filly could have made it a little more interesting had she not compromised her chance by swerving to the left coming out of the gates. ZORRO, sent off at 25/1, finished half a length back in fourth in the $100,000 contest for West Indian bred four-year-old and over horses.
ISLAND STAR was attempting to score for the tenth time on the surface, but the Barbadian bred five-year-old could only place sixth in the fifth event.
PRINCE ZESHAN, third in the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR) and NGC CNG Trinidad Derby Stakes (GR.IR) and second in the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR) last year, definitely needed a longer trip and ended up eighth of nine in his first outing on the lawn.
CHASE THE DRAGON had finished second to Republic Bank Gold Cup (GR.I) winner HEADLINE NEWS on his turf debut in the Caribbean Turf Championship (GR.III) last time out a month earlier.
It was his only defeat in his last four starts and the son of Gold Market earned $60,000 for his sixth career triumph to go past $300,000 from 12 outings for owners Kidz Too.
The race, named after 2003 Triple Crown winner Top Of The Class, was contested around the middle of the year last season on the dirt when it was staged for the first time.
Two races earlier, HOLY MAN, with Ronald Ali in the irons, stepped up in class and distance in style to complete a beaver-trick of victories and keep his unbeaten record intact.
The American bred three-year-old, who won the first race of the season, the FCB First Sprint (GR.IIR) on New Year’s Day last time out, held on by half a length to deny the rapid closing LANG AMOUR in the 1,750 metres race for 100-70 rated horses.
Despite the fact that the AGA Stables owned HOLY MAN had never raced over further than 1,350 metres before, he was sent off as the 9/5 second favourite.
Favourite WAR OF WORDS, who won the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR) and Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR) and placed second in the NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) last year, was only fifth.
Toyota Trinidad & Tobago Breeders Classic (GR.IT&T) winner POT OF GOLD, who also finished second in the NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR), third in the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic (GR.IR) and fifth in the NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) last year, was the next past the post.
And bringing up the rear half a length back was FREE PASSAGE, the 2012 NGC CNG Trinidad Derby (GR.IR) who finished off the tins for the third time in succession in a two turn contest.
His Derick Mosca-trained stable companion WODEN had four victories and a runner-up effort in his five other outings over the trip, but he could only finish fourth this time as he had not faced he starter in four months.
And five weeks after scoring effortlessly by 12 lengths on his debut, CORONEO left the fans speechless again when he trotted up by in the seventh event.
The American bred three-year-old, who never moved from 1/9 in the betting, was seven lengths clear of KING WHISTLER at the end of the 1,200 metres contest for 90-60 rated horses.
Boodramsingh, who had scored earlier with STAR DREAMER in the fourth race, an 1,100 metres turf contest for West Indian bred four-year-olds and over maidens, and CHASE THE DRAGON, completed a three timer aboard the Chevan Maharaj owned CORONEO.
Champion handler O’Brien saddled CHASE THE DRAGON, HIGH OCTANE and CORONEO to lead the trainers.
Racing takes a short beak for Carnival and will return to Santa Rosa Park next week Saturday March 08, 2014.