Stake out New Kingston
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Only six starters have been declared for today's 3-y-o and up overnight-allowance feature over 1700 metres at Caymanas Park, but,
despite the small field, it promises keen competition.
The field includes the recent winners EXCELLENCE and UNDAUNTED, while also present is NEW KINGSTON, VONALMIGHTY and the 2007 Superstakes winner, MAJOR MAYER, who, despite getting on in age, has been running well in recent months and could win, despite venturing up in class.
Champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, who won Saturday's valuable King's Plate feature with topweight CLASSY PROSPECT, holds a strong hand with the pair of NEW KINGSTON and up-in-class EXCELLENCE, a narrow winner over a mile in restricted company (non-winners of four) last Wednesday.
Even with the competition enhanced, EXCELLENCE, who was a classic filly last season - finishing second in the Oaks - could bring fitness into play and be right there at the finish under former champion Wesley 'Callaloo' Henry.
However, with current champion Omar Walker, the stable jockey, switching from EXCELLENCE to the American 5-y-o gelding, NEW KINGSTON, this one catches my fancy.
Although lightly trained as usual, NEW KINGSTON has been a model of consistency over varied distances.
Having finished six lengths third to stable companion LIFEISJUSFORLIVING in a fast-run straight five race (57.1) on February 16, the son of Delaware Township will be a tough cookie, given the milder pace of today's race.
NEW KINGSTON is not too heavy with 54.0kg to stave off the challenges and, to my mind, only a fit VONALMIGHTY from the Richard Azan stables could seriously test him in the closing exchanges.
However, VONALMIGHTY ran so poorly, finishing 15 lengths behind LITTLE WASP over 1820 metres on February 5, that a question mark hangs over his current well-being. Hence, a bigger
NEW KINGSTON has good pace and I am expecting him to race in close touch of stable companion EXCELLENCE, before making his winning move at the top of the lane.
The nine-race programme, which commences at 1:45 p.m., also features a competitive-looking restricted allowance race (4-y-o and up) over 1400 metres, to be contested by nine mostly fit horses.
Included in the line-up are WAIT A WHILE and SILENT IMAGE, both of whom ran well in their last race, as well as SEVEN FOUR SEVEN, who finished a close fourth to SHE'S SO SWEET over 1800 metres, PAT N GOLD and WARRIOR QUEEN.
Preference is for the Ryan Darby-trained WAIT AWHILE, who failed by a short head to tag SHE'S SO SWEET on February 19.
I also like EMPEROR HALL to repeat in the first race, THE BEST MAN in the fourth, ROJO in the fifth and MADURA GOLD in the ninth.