Campesino defies topweight to win St Catherine Cup
In-form CAMPESINO, running at odds of 5-1 with veteran jockey Ian Spence riding for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny and owner Howard Hamilton, easily defied topweight of 57.0kg to win the St Catherine Cup open allowance feature over 1,100 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Held off the early pace in fourth passing the half-mile as 3-2 favourite, STEP IT UP enjoyed a clear lead into the straight ahead of FORTUNEONEHUNDRED (14-1) and RIO COBRE (6-1), CAMPESINO was produced from third on entering the straight.
With highly fancied BORDER LINE (2-1) beginning to loom on the rails approaching the distance, Spence conjured a strong run from CAMPESINO a furlong out, the consistent five-year-old gelding by Compadre out of Yaella disposing of STEP IT UP early in the last furlong to win going away by 23/4 lengths from BORDER LINE in a field of seven.
CAMPESINO, who was notching his third win from his last six starts, covered the distance in a fast 1:05.3 behind splits of 22.3 and 46.0 for the half mile.
Spence hailed the performance, noting that CAMPESINO ran well for second behind the classy BOY WONDER over 1,300 metres on January 10 and was in very good nick for this race.
"He beat Border Line quite easily for second in that fast-run race and with the distance of today's race just perfect for him, knew he could successfully give away weight all around and I am happy for the victory," said Spence, who is popularly called 'Dolly Baby'.
With the three year olds potentially a cut above those of last year even from this early stage of the season, the Wayne DaCosta-trained DRIPPING IN GOLD was yet another to impress with a bold front-running display to win the maiden condition race over a mile by nine lengths as the 4-5 favourite.
Ridden by Robert Halledeen for owners Elizabeth DaCosta and Bruce Levy, DRIPPING IN GOLD turned for home with a commanding lead over 6-5 second favourite ABBEY ROAD and cruised home in the good time of 1:38.3 in a field of 10.
Meanwhile, the ageing NEW KINGSTON (2-1), formerly trained by DaCosta, outfinished the howling 1-2 favourite WOMAN IS BOSS to win the fifth race over the straight for high claimers, with apprentice Romario Saunders aboard.
The American nine-year-old gelding, who was claimed out of his last race by trainer Borris McIntosh on January 1, kept on strongly on the stands side to get the better of long-time leader WOMAN IS BOSS, beating her by 1 3/4 lengths in a field of seven.
Champion jockey Dane Nelson rode only one winner, making most aboard 2-1 chance THUNDER HEART in the sixth race over 1,400 metres ahead of the chasing FIRST 'K' BOY (6-5 favourite), then had to survive a stewards'inquiry.