GALVESTON cruised to his first Grade I victory over the top class when horse racing continued yesterday with a ten-race Independence Day holiday card at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The only locally-bred horse in the first of two $200,000 events on the Neal & Massy-sponsored card cruised home by 4 ½ lengths in the Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup.
Galveston was handicapped to win the 1,800-metre event with 51 kilos and his task was made much simpler when it was switched to the main track because of a waterlogged turf course.
After being held up behind the likes of Toro Rosso, Secret American, Buffalo Solider and Red Lace until the far turn, the rail parted like the Red Sea for the evens favourite and he cruised through and prevailed unchallenged.
Nominee was expected to be one of the main contenders on the turf after winning the Grade I Champagne Stakes in his only outing on the surface Easter Monday (April 1). But the American-bred four-year-old is no slouch on the dirt either and he proved it again by finishing second.
Last year’s Trinidad Derby winner Free Passage, who like the winner is handled by Derick Mosca, came thundering down the homestretch to finish less than a length behind Nominee as he pipped long shot Secret American for third.
Just Call Me Roger won the race last year, but last year’s Champion Turf Performer was one of five horses which were scratched because of the switch to the dirt.
Galveston, who became the seventh horse to go past $1million in career earnings early this year, picked up another $120,000 for owner Shivam Maharaj with his 13th career victory—from 26 starts—and is now less than $20,000 away from $1,200,000.
Brian Boodramsingh, who had already booted home the first two winners on the card, picked up the “spare” mount and it was the first time that he had been aboard the 2011 Midsummer Classic and Trinidad Derby runner-up.
The two-time defending champion jockey guided Derek Cozier Classic (formerly Santa Rosa Classic) heroine Hyat Princess to a pole-to-pole victory in the opener, the 1,200-metre contest for 60-45 rated horses. And then with Boodramsingh in the irons, Lady Felisha finally turned in her maidens’ certificate—on the 12th attempt—when the Jamaican-bred grey whipped a bunch of 40 & lower horses by 3 ½ lengths over 1,350 metres.