Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sacred Trust to ring in New Year with 'Gold'


FUTURE CHAMP: Young apprentice Kerron Khelawan, aboard owner/trainer Harold Chadee's Jamaica-bred Tennesee Hustler (11), wins by three-quarter length in the 1,100-metre race for two-year-old and over horses rated 55-35 — the fourth race on the ten-race Boxing Day card, at Santa Rosa Park, Arima, last Wednesday. Khelawan, whose elder brother Dillon Khelawan was crowned champion apprentice for 2012, is tipped to be the big threat this year. He has ridden eight winners during his short career. Kerron's first win was aboard Nakita, last year, beating Emile Ramsammy on Lawbreaker. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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RING IN your New Year's resolution to leave the Santa Rosa Park, Arima racecourse with money by following trainer Jose William-Samaroo's Sacred Trust in the showcase event, the 1,100-metre First Citizens Sian's Gold Sprint on the turf.

The five-year-old mare, who finished an excellent third in the 1,200-metre Stewards Cup on December 1 to Bruceontheloose and Signal Alert, has her chance enhanced as she will be partnered by Emile Ramsammy, who has achieved great heights at Woodbine racecourse, in Canada.

Sacred Trust comes up against 1,100-metre record holder Fly Junior, 1,600-metre record holder Treasure Each Day, and defending champion Raging Halo in the eight-horse Grade Two feature, along with Independence Cup winner Just Call Me Roger.

Raging Halo, whose last run was on August 31 when sixth to Just Call Me Roger in the Independence Cup, has not looked that sharp in his comeback workouts, and could be bypassed. And with the track reported--by Plant and Premises manager Stephen Jardim--as firm, and the assurance that there will be turf racing if it does not rain today his chances will be further diminished.

Fly Junior, who smashed the 1,100-metre track record with 56.5 kilos, is going into this Grade Two event five kilos lighter, and on the strength of that weight concession it does not make financial sense to oppose him. However, he did not look that fluent in his workout. He has won at the top level on the turf, but not at the sprinting level. He possesses a very good early dash, but will have Treasure Each Day, Smart American and Curfew Breaker on his heels, chasing after the $90,000 first prize. Fly Junior performs best on a fast track, and with the sting taken off the track he will not be able to slip this field.

Treasure Each Day has filled out nicely for this event, and although she has not competed in the last 12 months, she has trained well for this race and will be sporting a first time tongue-tied. She looks the part, but might not be sharp enough to do justice.

There will be some furious early fractions, and the speed in this race will back up. This is why Sacred Trust will be effective. She could stalk the pace and quicken, and her running style will be ideal for Ramsammy.

Among the other runners, 2011 Stewards Cup winner Signal Alert is untried on the turf, and will not be at home on this surface; Smart American won on the surface, but is not up to the level of these horses; Curfew Breaker chased home Fly Junior in his record breaking run, and with his light impost of 49.5 kilos he could share in the spoils; Just Call Me Roger needs further, but has some early speed--not at the sprinting level; and King Whistler is safely held.

Sacred Trust, the third best sprinter in the country, will be solid value, and should score from Treasure Each Day, Fly Junior and Curfew Breaker.

In the second of the three showcase events, the 1,200-metre First Citizens First Sprint--the fifth race on the ten-race holiday card--seven three-year-old maiden importations will go after the rich purse of $150,000.

Filly Key Chain and It Is Alleged had runner-up finishes to creole Onefortheroad, and have the best form heading into this race. Key Chain displayed very good early speed on her debut, and was only beaten in the homestretch, while It Is Alleged came from a long way off to grab the runner-up slot ahead of stablemate Slewjero. Horses usually improve after their first run, and both could improve further. However, they could be opposed by champion trainer John O'Brien's Black Genius, who has been going very well at gallops. In his most recent work from the gates, he displayed very good speed, and prior to that he was all over Midsummer Classic winner, Onetokeep.

Among the other runners, Golden Enchantment, who finished fifth on her debut, could improve, and newcomer Star Entertainer could spring a surprise. However, Black Genius, on the basis of his good exercise works, should be supported to score.

In the third of the three feature events on the card, a total of $75,000 will be on offer. The eighth race--the 1,350-metre First Citizens Stud Farm Association Trial Stakes for native bred three-year-old maidens who passed through the Yearling sale ring--has attracted a full field of 16 runners.

Making a quick return from the Boxing Day card for this event are St Ann's Stakes runner-up Heidi's Ztippi and third-placed finisher Salome, along with Settle D Score, whose rider Hugo Sanchez fell coming out of the gates.

Those three runners are coming from Graded company to contest a maiden event, and have to be noted. However, maiden Measured Response, who finished fourth to Black Pepper on his debut, has improved immensely since that run, and will be tough to beat.

Release D Beast, who finished fifth on his debut to Central Square, needed that run, and will improve further in this race. O'Brien's pair of Hyat Princess and Gold Rush should also give a good account, and ought to be included in the exotic Hi-5 bet, but Measured Response would be hard to peg back and should be supported to score at a decent price.

Raceday sponsor First Citizens announced that a trophy will be given to the owner of the winning horse in each race, and that plaques will be presented to the winning trainer and jockey. There are also financial incentives for the grooms of the horses judged to be best turned out in each of the ten races.

Post time for the day's opener is 11 a.m.