'Big Brown' for Royal Dad Trophy
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The annual run over the circular nine course for the Royal Dad Trophy confined to three-year-olds and up is today's feature at Caymanas Park and is befitting during this period of mourning for Hall of Famer Kenneth Mattis.
Mattis, who died at age 78 last Saturday, conditioned the 1981 Horse of the Year ROYAL DAD during his short, but magnificent racing career, the son of Bagdad having distinguished himself as the first Triple Crown winner at Caymanas Park in 1981 and the first to win 11 consecutive races before his untimely death (collapsed and died on the track) after winning the mile and quarter Governor General's Stakes on Saturday, October 16, 1982.
The race (restricted stakes) has attracted eight starters, including BECKHAM, LUCKY MICHELLE, SPARKLING MICHAELA, LOCKED AND LOADED and the American bred four-year-old colt, BIGBROWNGREYHOPE, who romped home over this trip when last raced on September 13.
He is one of three horses in the line-up to have won over the distance in recent months, the others being BECKHAM and SPARKLING MICHAELA. All three are programmed to be in the final shake up, along with the lightly-raced, but very useful three-year-old filly, LUCKY MICHELLE, who was an unlucky loser over 1500 metres on October 8.
While the Lorne Kirlew-trained LUCKY MICHELLE looks tempting at the weights, with only 50kg and leading jockey Dick Cardenas aboard, the Rowan Mathie-trained BIGBROWNGREYHOPE looked a really good horse in winning by six lengths from STAR NEW VISTA (a subsequent winner) over this trip and with champion jockey Dane Nelson retaining the ride, should prove too strong for LUCKY MICHELLE and BECKHAM in deep stretch.
The grey son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner BIG BROWN has looked fluent at exercise in preparation for this race and should use this as a stepping stone to better things.
Elsewhere on the programme, the Solomon Sharpe-trained RED FLAG - with Nelson aboard - should win the competitive looking overnight allowance race over 1,500 metres to be contested by seven starters.
Although without a victory in many moons, RED FLAG ran such an improved race when finishing fourth to FRANFIELD over a mile on October 4, that he seems ready to deliver from the convenient mark of 52.0kg. ROYAL VIBES and RAGING PROSPECT are twin dangers.
Other firm fancies on the card are HAIL THE KING with former champion Hubert Bartley in the opening race over a mile, TROJAN to make a winning debut in the two-year-old race, GRANDE MARQUE in the fifth and AUNT HILDA in the eighth over the straight.