HEADLINE NEWS proved his win in last year’s Republic Bank Gold Cup over Jamaica-bred, Bigman In Town was no fluke. He sparkled as he put ‘Bigman,’ last year’s Horse of the Year winner in his place with a sound thrashing in yesterday’s 1,350-metre Starlight Stakes at Santa Rosa Park.
Sent off as the odds-on favourite, the Ruthven Smith-owned colt, trained by John O’Brien and ridden by Nobel Abrego scored by three-and-three-quarter lengths from Bigman In Town, Pot Of Gold and Plum Plum in a fast 1:20.50 in the five-horse feature.
The excitement bubbled before the start of the race when the horses were going down to post, and trainer Harold Chadee’s Plum Plum was reluctant to go further than the turn after the finish line.
This was where it was pointed out to Chadee by other trainers that Plum Plum knew what is going to happen. To which Chadee responded: “No, Headline News just pass him, and he feel the breeze.”
Sent out of the chute, Pot Of Gold led the way from Headline News, with Bigman In Town shadowing him, and Onetokeep trailing. Abrego was first to attack, allowing Bigman In Town to range up on his outside in a bid to put him in a pocket, but Abrego committed before the halfway stage, taking up the running and drifting out in a bid to carry Ramsammy wide.
But the experienced jockey ducked back to the inside, as both horses ranged into the hometurn.
Headline News, with a clear lead, erratically went for the rails, but luckily, Bigman In Town was not in close proximity.
However, that trademark of Headline News probably helped him in changing his legs, and when straightened, he grabbed the bit again and went ahead for a comfortable success.
Meanwhile, Ramsammy, who returns to Canada today, did not have the success expected, but still showed why he is a top class rider when producing 3/5 favourite Prince Zeshan to prevail over Loan Shark in yesterday’s seventh race.
His mount looked the winner heading towards the 600 metres pole, when joining the front-running Rhea’s Toy Soldier in the lead.
However, Loan Shark got a lovely let-in up the rails and kicked clear entering the homestretch, catching Ramsammy’s mount flat-footed, and stealing valuable lengths into the homestretch.
Winless until that race, Ramsammy was not going down. He conjured up his mount, and with the rhythmic beat of his whip, the Jamaica-bred colt danced down the stretch to catch Loan Shark.
While the top riders like Brian Boodramsingh and Wilmer Galviz were winless on the day, apprentices, Kerron Khelawan, David Butcher, and Nigel Flavenney were regularly in the winner’s enclosure.
Khelawan started with Fly Junior, who was last of the five runners in the early stages of yesterday’s 1,700-metre event for horses rated 100-70 on the turf, and swept by his field nearing the 800-metre pole as though they were stationery. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, the Ricki Maharaj-trained importation, who holds the 1,100-metre track record, breezed past leaders Harry Could Dance, Smart American and Wild Shuffle up the backstretck, leaving second favourite Buffalo Soldier trapped against the rails.
When extricated by Ramsammy, he cut into Fly Junior’s lead, by which time Khelawan had already geared down his mount, who scored by 1 ¼ lengths.
Young Khelawan followed up with another success in the fourth race again on the turf aboard the five-year-old mare Consideritdone, trained by Richard Stephen for owner Shivam Maharaj.
The chestnut denied trainer Maharaj a quick double after he had scored with Fly Junior but saw Nothing Left finish second best.
Khelawan came back later in the day aboard trainer Chester Roberts’ Chelsi Magic to take the eighth race.
Butcher and Flavenney both recorded two wins apiece, with Flavenney taking the day’s opener with trainer Harry Singh’s Who Is The Problem and debutant Veins Of Gold in the sixth race. Butcher scored with Ten Powers in the fifth race and owner/trainer David Ojar’s Wing Commander in the curtain event.
And in the eighth race of ten, jockey Ronald ‘Tiger’ Ali, riding 3/5 favourite Martha reported an infringement (crossing his mount) at the 1,000-metre marker by the Khelawan brothers, Kerron (riding winner Chelsi Magic) and Dillon (Princess Jo Ann).
The objection was overruled, but the stewards found the Khelawan brothers guilty of colluding to impede Martha’s chance of finishing higher. Both were suspended from racing for the next five racedays.
Racing action continues on Saturday with a possible ten-race card.