CHASE THE DRAGON was snorting fire on his way to passing the veterinary inspection yesterday morning ahead of today’s $100,000 Top Of The Class Stakes on the turf at Santa Rosa Park. It is the fifth event of the ten-race programme on the eighth round of the 2014 season.
The John O’Brien-trained runner enters this race off a runner-up effort behind Headline News in the 1,800-metre Caribbean Turf Championship on January 25. He looked extremely fit and the drop back in distance should not be an inconvience for him.
The race is set up for a closer to prevail as speedsters Atlantica, Hyat Princess, Zorro and Central Square, should ensure it is run at a fast clip—the track is reported to be hard and fast. The mare Island Star, who relishes this surface, along with Bandwagon, should be closing strong at the finish.
The card is a star-studded one with impressive three-year-old colt Coroneo, who trotted up on his debut, returning in the seventh race. It could be worth making the journey to Santa Rosa Park to see this grey son of Value Plus run.
And three-year-old importation Holy Man puts his unbeaten tag on the line in the day’s third event. The Shaffique Khan trainee comes up against 2012 Trinidad Derby Stakes winner Free Passage and last year’s Derby Stakes runner-up War Of Words. He has an outstanding chance of maintaining his unblemished record, given his light impost of 50.5 kilos.
The feature event is the $150,000 Royal Colours Classic—the penultimate race on the card—for locally-bred three-year-olds. This 1,300-metre contest looks an open affair. However, O’Brien’s charges Resurgence, Market Rally, and High Octane, could factor significantly.
Market Rallly appears to have derived some benefit from her dismal debut effort last time out and should run an improved race. Debutant High Octane is showing up well on the gallops but might be in need of the run. Resurgence, meanwhile, has been noted staying on in his races and could represent the best value among the O’Brien trio.
Country Boy, who ran an improved race against older horses when fitted with blinkers, looks spot on for this assignment and seems the safest bet. He is handing out weight to his ten rivals but their lack of experience could work to his advantage.
As there is likely to be a rush for the lead leaving the gates, jockey Emile Ramsammy should be able to position Country Boy behind the early pace in a stalking trip while waiting to pounce later on.
The experienced Maximus could prove a danger, however,. He will be hard to peg back if allowed to linger too long on the front end.
Post time for the day’s opener is