THE CHAMPION sprinter in this country will be crowned after the running of today’s 1,200-metre The Norman Gabriel Insurances Brokers Stewards Cup, the penultimate event on the nine-race card at Santa Rosa Park.
Eight horses will contest the $250,000 purse in the Open Grade One showpiece, and from discussions with three of this country’s leading trainers who have entrants in the race, they have concluded it will be a three-horse battle among Sacred Trust, Signal Alert and Crime Of Passion.
Trainer Jose William-Samaroo, whose charge Sacred Trust inflicted Crime Of Passion’s second racecourse defeat in the Diamond Stakes said: “It is a nice race. The race is between the three top-class horses, Signal Alert, Crime of Passion and Sacred Trust. The weather will play a major role...Crime Of Passion is about the soundest horse. My horse, Sacred Trust, she will run a good race. Whoever, is the soundest on the day will prevail.”
Samaroo also pointed out, “we have done the best with these older horses. This is her second race in the Stewards Cup. She was fourth last year, and third in her first run. It is a three-horse race.”
Trainer John O’Brien, who won this event last year with Bruceontheloose who died from colic in January, is represented by Crime Of Passion and King Whistler this time. He also predicted a three-way battle, although Crime Of Passion was soundly thrashed by Sacred Trust, and Signal Alert in the Diamond Stakes on Derby Day - September 24, finishing a disappointing fourth.
“He had an issue in that race, and we have since sorted things out,” O’Brien said. “He is coming off a good win, and should run to his best again. He looks in good nick, and with the two-kilo advantage, he should have a good chance.”
Regarding King Whistler, he pointed out: “He is alright, but I do not think he has the class. He had some joints (ankles) that were giving him some trouble, and it was sorted out. He will be fighting for the lesser end of the purse.”
Bluntly he stated: “The opposition is Sacred Trust and Signal Alert. The rest are fighting for bottom end. Something will have to jump from the ordinary to beat this trio. Sacred Trust is an honest horse, if she gets you not at your best, she will beat you. Signal Alert at his best will beat you, but is getting a little long on the tooth.”
While not committing that Crime Of Passion will be hard to beat he agreed that the race will be one of experience versus youth.
Trainer Glenn Mendez, who saddles former Stewards Cup winner Signal Alert, also forecasted a three-horse encounter.
“Well it is a three-horse race basically, the rest of them will need a miracle to figure in the finish,” he said. “I believe all three are fit and well. Signal Alert is well, we were able to get almost all what we wanted. It should be a nice battle between the trio.”
Mendez added that, “Crime Of Passion when he met these horses was beaten, maybe he wasn’t at his best, but he is at his best now. He is close to them in the weights now, and it will really be tough for him to get the best of these horses.”
Switching fo the SFA Breeder’s Stakes, the fourth race on the card, Mendez, who saddles Maranza and Dark Treasure reported that, “Maranza has come out in good shape from her first race, and had a nice piece of work this week. She could only improve. The colt (Dark Treasure) is a decent horse, and worked well also, and if he does not run too green, we will be hoping for the best.”
Mendez added: “The Bandora colt, Heroes N Legends has been working extremely well, and you have to respect that Bandora line. John’s (O’Brien) horse (Gold Is Class) is a beaten favourite and is coming out on first time lasix, and is coming from a stable that you have to respect.”