THE TRIPLE CROWN is the only jewel missing from champion trainer John O’Brien illustrious career collection. He has suffered several near misses, and just last year was on course for what appeared to a be a surefire success with War Of Words, winner of the first two legs - Easter Guineas and Midsummer Classic. He missed out once again in the Trinidad Derby Stakes, with Jamaica-bred shipper Bigman In Town landing the prestigious event with Javier Castellano.
Tomorrow, O’Brien heads into Triple Crown territory with unbeaten Jamaica-bred colt Momentum, and has extra ammunition in High Octane, and Justcallmebas.
Momentum, last year’s champion two-year-old colt, further enhanced his reputation for this event when he slammed the Imported maidens in impressive fashion and firmly put himself in line as tomorrow’s Easter Guineas favourite.
One could say the colt has picked up “momentum,” and from the comments of trainers of other horses in the race, they are chasing after the runner-up slot.
The Express spoke with O’Brien about his horse, asking him if he is certain to cop the Triple Crown series starting with tomorrow’s $315,000 NLCB Easter Guineas at Santa Rosa Park.
“I will say one step at a time,” a laughing O’Brien said.
“The Triple Crown is one thing. In the Guineas, he must have an outstanding chance. We have to keep our fingers crossed. Sometimes horses with that kind of speed do not carry it.”
Sharing his opinion on his other runner, High Octane, O’Brien stated: “He is a nice type of horse. In both his starts he ran very well. His ability to stay may be in question, but he is out of a Storm Cat stallion.”
His other runner, Jamaica-bred Justcallmebas appears to be the horse that could pose the bigger danger to Momentum. In his last start in the Flamingo Stakes, he finished third to Momentum, from a wide trip.
“He will definitely stay,” O’Brien said. “He is just sorting himself out. Whether he has the ability to win a race of this nature is left to be seen. Both horses are training very well.”
Moving on to the opposition. O’Brien bluntly stated, “I do not know much about Spitfire. He won by a long margin in Jamaica beating Cramers Road, who won (at Santa Rosa Park in his local debut). I would not say he set the world on fire. There are question marks, they training him with blinkers. If he does not run a true race on the day, he will not beat a horse like Momentum with his ability.”
He added: “The other contender, Eye See You has not been able to handle Momentum. Dark Treasure ran a race in 55-40 company, and was beaten by Wing Commander. I do not think Wing Commander could beat High Octane or Justcallmebas. I would be surprised if he beats Momentum.”
Trainer Harold Chadee, who has Jamaica-bred Eye See You in the race, hoisted the white flag saying, “Momentum is the horse. Who beat Momentum wins.”
Chadee predicted: “Spitfire beat up maiden horses up there (Jamaica) . I have a good placing chance. The race will run down Momentum and Eye See You.”
Meanwhile, the Champagne Stakes – the supporting event on the 11-race card has been robbed of an exciting rematch between Headline News and Bigman In Town, who has suffered an injury.
Owner, Baskaran Bassawh said, “Bigman In Town is out of the race. He bruised his sesamoid. We x-ray, and no fracture was shown, but as a matter of precaution, we are scratching him”
Bassawh admitted Bigman In Town has issues, but they did not contribute to this most recent setback.
“It could have happened from the workout he had last Sunday working over 1,000 metres in 58 seconds,” he reasoned.
And regarding his charge Spitfire, Bassawh said, “the only concern about Spitfire, he is immature, and inexperienced. He is a very good racehorse and has a lovely stride. ...I am not saying Momentum cannot win. He is the class horse, but Spitfire will be with him. I know Nobel Abrego likes my other horse, Justcallmebas, and he is a big race rider.”