NOMINEE proved that he is the big man on the turf when horse racing continued yesterday at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The American-bred five-year-old maintained his unbeaten record on the surface after he prevailed in the Eric “Colt” Durant Memorial, feature attraction of the ten-race card.
Nominee was overtaken in the race for favouritism just before the start by Bigman In Town, but he did not allow the same thing to happen on the track.
The Trinidad Derby Stakes winner was breathing down his neck when they turned for home in the 1,700-metre contest. But Nominee started to pull away in the stretch and coasted home by 3 ¾ lengths and became the third of four winners during the afternoon for Emile Ramsammy.
Gold Cup runner-up Bigman In Town was actually nosed out for second by Kidz Ro, while Buffalo Soldier was fourth and Crime Of Passion, fifth, in the 1,700-metre contest.
Both Bigman In Town, the 8/5 favourite who won four of his five starts in Trinidad to be crowned Horse of the Year last season, and Crime Of Passion were racing for the first time on turf.
Crime Of Passion had also never faced the starter in a two-turn event, but the Stewards Cup winner was only in front for a very short time as the gates flew.
Kidz Ro, also owned by Raroma Stable and handled by champion trainer O’Brien, had scored against much weaker opposition (70-55) in his only other start at Santa Rosa, five weeks earlier.
The Kenneth De Silva Jr-trained Nominee, sent off at odds of 2/1, stopped the clock in a very good time of 1:41.20 seconds as he completed his hat-trick on the turf.
The winner of last year’s only Grade I event on the grass (Champagne Stakes), earned $90,000 for his fifth victory as he went past $400,000 for owner Antonio Navarro in his 15th career outing.
Nominee and Bigman In Town are both nominated for the Sandy Lane Gold Cup in Barbados, but after his Jamaican-bred chestnut finished third yesterday, owner Baskaran Bassawh stated that he will not be competing be at the Garrison Savannah on March 8.
The Canada-based Ramsammy, this country’s most celebrated and successful jockey with over 2,500 career winners, was also triumphant with Direct Injection, Against The Odds and Gold Rush, in the second, fourth and ninth races, respectively.
Gold Rush, who won the Sugar Mike Stakes, placed second in the Chief Commander Stakes and third in the $500,000 Trinidad and Tobago Breeders Classic last year, whipped the 70-55 rated horses by two lengths in a 1,750-metre contest.
Nominee and Ramsammy had to share the spotlight with the Jamaican-bred three-year-old Momentum, who put his American-bred contemporaries in their place in the seventh event.
With champion jockey Brian Boodramsingh in the saddle, last year’s St James Stakes hero completed a hat-trick of victories and kept his unbeaten record intact with a smooth 3 ¾-length triumph in the 1,200-metre contest.
Cat Heir’s was sent off as the odds-on favourite in his first start, but he missed the break and never got within striking distance of the 8/5 second favourite.
The 4/5 favourite was actually forced to settle for third as First Classic runner-up Bergeron Rodeo caught him in deep stretch.
Racing continues at Santa Rosa on Saturday with the eighth round of the Arima Race Club’s 2014 Season.