SAFRA TILAH, who smashed the 800-metre track record on her debut on August 1, could set another divisional record in today's 1,000-metre Nursery Stakes--the feature seventh race on the eight-race card at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The Glenn Mendez-trained daughter of Cougat Cat/Dixie Glitter is on the small side, but possesses "turbo" legs that could see her race unbeaten for some time. On her racing debut she was not alertly away and tracked the leader Secret Circle in third, but when switched by raceday rider, Ricky Jadoo from the rails to the outside to challenge Secret Circle, she did so in the manner of a seasoned campaigner.
One could not believe she was having her first start. She has improved quite a bit since that run, and trainer Harold Chadee, whose runners finished behind her, sends out two sets of fresh legs in Jamaica-breds Star Dreamer and Always Ready.
Star Dreamer, a half sister to Damage Control, failed to enter the gates in the race won by Safra Tilah, and returns for another shot. She has been exercising well, but her physical condition suggests that the workouts have taken a toll on her. In racing terms she looks "tucked-up", and when a horse looks that way it rarely runs a good race. I have been told she has not been picking up her feed that well.
Stablemate Always Ready, a half sister to Graded winner, Legally Ready is a nice sort, and will run a very good race, but looks held by Star Dreamer on their exercise workouts. Colt Afterthebooks, from trainer Douglas Bennett's barn, has the only recorded workout over the trip, and will give a very good account, but the overweight with Brian Harding will not help his cause. It could be a blessing, though, for the youngster to have experience on his back.
Trainer Shaffique Khan saddles fillies Readyforstanley and Cat Whiskers, but holds Readyforstanley in higher esteem--having paid a penalty for the daughter of Stanley Park/Ready Or Not to be eligible.
Jockey Ronald Ali, who rides "Stanley", also believes the filly is the better runner.
Trainer Rohit Dube saddles Something Black, who was the second favourite behind Safra Tilah, and finished a disappointing sixth with stablemate Kiss The Sky finishing in front of him. Something Black has been fitted with a visor and tongue-tied to improve his chances, and his racing experience could see him make amends.
Kiss The Sky, a half sister to Guineas winner Santa Rosa Boy, has not sparkled on the exercise, but cannot be dismissed.
Black Pepper, from trainer Glen Mohammed's barn, rounds off the field. She is a very nice looker, and connections expect a very good run from her if the pace is hot early in the race. She worked with Cat Whiskers last Saturday over 600 metres and held her own. If she builds on that workout, she will form the trifecta.
However, Safra Tilah is hard to oppose, and should score from Afterthebooks, Star Dreamer, Readyforstanley or Black Pepper.
The curtain event on the card brings out Derby entry Onefortheroad, one of trainer Derick Mosca's three Derby nominees.
He is using this race as the prep for the colt, who looks good enough to bring down the curtain on the day's activities. If he fails, connections could have some sleepless nights, with the Derby only 16 days away.
Onefortheroad looks the part, and only has to bring his fourth-placed Easter Guineas finish behind Unquestionable to this handicap event today, and would run out a very easy winner.
As a juvenile, he finished second to the speedy Sir Bas in the St James Stakes, and dropping back to extended sprint could be the answer for his confidence. He will be partnered by Nobel Abrego for the first time, and with Abrego's excellent strike rate recently he should not be missed. Onefortheroad should be followed home by Ten Powers, Big Daddy and Pacman.
Post time for the day's opener is one p.m.