SADNESS descended on the Santa Rosa Park racing complex Thursday morning when news circulated that Gold Cup favourite Montejo had broken his leg during an exercise workout. Most horsemen who heard the news felt very sorry for trainer Jose William-Samaroo and owner Zanim Meah-John on their loss, as the five-year-old was runner-up in the last two renewals of the Gold Cup and looked set to avenge those losses in next Wednesday's edition.
The problem did not hold up work on the track though, as Montejo limped off the course, following which, trainers had their charges flying. Among the big guns firing very early were trainer Derick Mosca's Gold Cup trio of Gabby's Gold, Buffalo Soldier and Galveston. Three-year-old Gabby's Gold worked separately from his other two companions in a very strong1:04.55 over 1,000 metres, while his stablemates worked over the same trip with Galveston getting the better of Buffalo Soldier, covering the distance in a sub one minute time. However, the official clockers only got the final 600 metres to the wire in 36.50 seconds.
Then came St James Stakes favourite Prince Zeshan, who was joined by possible St Ann's Stakes winner Lady Felisha, and they breezed over 600 metres in a handy 37.40 with Nobel Abrego riding Prince Zeshan and Kerron Khelawan partnering Lady Felisha.
Both horses finished strongly with Prince Zeshan draining out better.
After the renovation break, several major contenders had their letdown gallop for their respective assignments on Boxing Day.
Juvenile Safra Tilah, one of the leading contenders in the St Ann's Stakes, paced over 800 metres in a strong 54.18 on Thursday morning. Yesterday she completed her preparation from the gates with fellow St Ann's Stakes runner Pearl Secret, who jumped out ahead of her, Safra Tilah not being that sharp leaving the gates, but she made up the deficit and went ahead with jockey Sheldon Rodrigo in the saddle. They covered the 600 metres in a bullet 35.03 seconds, which was the fastest recorded time among all the juveniles heading into the St Ann's and St James Stakes on Boxing Day.
Trainer John O'Brien who saddles juveniles War Of Words and Central Square in the St James Stakes, worked both runners together over 600 metres and they turned in a good 36.52. First-time winner Central Square was much better throughout the work, with Brian Harding on War Of Words pumping his colt to keep in touch.
O'Brien also sent out St Ann's Stakes entry Always A Princess in the company of Stakes-placed runner, Lady Angelica. However, the youngster made Lady Angelica and Harding work overtime in their half-mile spin which was completed in an excellent 49.84, with Always A Princess stronger.
Trainer Terrence Thomas, who is ultra confident about the chance of Gold Cup entry Strikes Not Spares and a little less excited about his other entry, Golden Dixieland, breezed both runners over 1,200 metres. Strikes Not Spares led from start to finish and they covered the trip in a very good 1:14, the final 1,000 metres in under a minute. The official clockers got the final half-mile in 48.77.
Stewards Cup winner Bruceontheloose, who is chasing the sprint and route (Gold Cup) double paced with Odin over 600 metres which covered in a quiet 37.16.
Trainer Douglas Bennett, who won the St Ann's Stakes several years ago with outsider Trini To D Bone, sent out his St Ann's Stakes pair of Salome and Diamond Queen, with Salome blowing away Diamond Queen over their 1,000-metre spin and turning in 1:05.24.
Black Pepper, who earned her place in the St Ann's Stakes with a comfortable win over 1,300 metres on December 8 , was joined by maiden Heidi Ztippi. They breezed over 600 metres with Black Pepper leading the way from the break, but her lead shortened in the homestretch as Heidi's Ztippi closed the gap nearing the finish line.
They turned in a good 36.47. Also yesterday, Gold Cup entry Mobthewarrior breezed over 1,000 metres but was only clocked over the final 800 metres in a very good 48.17.
Other notable workouts were recorded by Free Passage, Nettoyer and Roman Anthem.
Here are yesterday's and Thursday's recorded workouts:
400 metres— Actin Time 27.16 handily; Convoy 29.09 pacing; Lone Shark 28.62 pacing; Won't Stop Now 29.95 pacing; Agra and Tiger Shadow 27.43 handily.
600 metres--Settle The Score better than Bears And Bulls 36.83 good; Oro De Cordoba 44.92 pacing; Insidious 41.22 handily; Officer Ike 43.09 pacing; Chief Crazyhorse 43.84 pacing; Safra Tilah and Pearl Secret 35.03 from gates.
800 metres--Ram Galba 59.94 pacing; Ex-Kay's Inlet, Ex-Sworn To Valor and Ex-Chantelle 56.90 pacing; Measured Response and Cat Minister 53.19 handily; Red Hot-Wheels 58.37 pacing; Mobthewarrior 48.17 good; Glittering Gold and Sparkling Silver 53.53 handily; Patriot Guard 57.43 pacing.
1,000 metres--Precise Moments better than Big Profit 1:07.04 handily; Mambo Lady 1:14.96 pacing.
1,200 metres--Red Howler 1:29.17 pacing; Readbetweendlines 1:15.80 from gates.
400 metres--Undulation and Just My Luck 24.19 good; Ex-Riviera and Messi 23.65 good; Peppermint 29.98 pacing; No Just Cause 29.94 pacing; Big Daddy 24.03 good; Ex-Willing To Spend and Nandi from gates 23.61; Classic Material 23.85.
600 metres--Onetokeep and Diplomatic Cat 36.49 good; Angelica Jane , Dream Marchall and Secret Circle 38.27 handily; Ex-Formal Honors and Convoy 44.90 pacing; Wonderful Whirl 43.15 pacing; Buffalo Soldier and Galveston 36.50 good; Rosie's Dream 37.44 handily; Make A Wish 44.32 pacing; Mambo Lady 43.01 pacing; Prince Zeshan and Lady Felisha 37.40 handily; Advantage Taken 38.83 handily; Central Square and War Of Words 36.52 good; Black Pepper and Heidi Tzippi 36.47 good; Raise Your Glass 37.77 handily; Bruceontheloose and Odin 37.16 good; The Right Time 37.41 handily..
800 metres--Bears And Bulls 57.68 pacing; Free Passage 50.54 handily; Lady Marisa 52.89 handily; Land Amour 51.47 handily; A Great Moment 54.84 handily; Saturday Special and Awesome Four 55.52 handily; Curfew Breaker 55.68 handily; Cordell Walker 55.40 handily; Youaresobad 53.68 handily; Always A Princess and Lady Angelica 49.84 good; Strikes Not Spares and Golden Dixieland 48.77 good; Safra Tilah 54.18 handily; Nettoyer 50.52 handily; Strategic Silence 53.27 handily; Boogie Blues 52.24 handily.
1,000 metres--Roman Anthem 1:03.05 handily; Mambo Cat and Quick City 1:08.71 handily; Gabby's Gold 1:04.55 handily; Salome better than Diamond Queen 1:05.24 handily; Secret American 1:03.06 handily;