Ali Baba wins 2000 Guineas with terrific finish in Caymanas Park feature
The progressive three-year-old colt, ALI BABA, produced a terrific finish on the rails midway the last furlong to beat his lesser-fancied stable-companion, SEEKING MY DREAM, by 11/4 lengths in the 41st running of the Post To Post 2000 Guineas over 1,600 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Ridden by in-form Robert Halledeen for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta and owner/breeder Winston Kong, the bay colt by Fearless Vision out of the Royal Minister mare Ahwhofah covered the distance in a fast 1:37.4, behind splits of 23.0, 45.0 and a blistering 1:10.0 for the first six furlongs.
ALI BABA (2-1) was unable to go the fast early pace in sixth passing the half-mile, as stable-companion DRIPPING IN GOLD (20-1), with Shamaree Muir, led from the rank outsider, ROYAL ASSAULT (86-1), followed closely by ACTION MAN (48-1), highly fancied SIEMPRE BUENO (5-2), with visiting Canadian champion jockey Patrick Husbands, and SEEKING MY GOLD (6-1), under big-race jockey Shane Ellis.
DRIPPING IN GOLD gave way to SEEKING MY DREAM and SIEMPRE BUENO approaching the home turn. But, by then, ALI BABA was beginning to find his best strides and was not far adrift in third entering the straight.
SEEKING MY DREAM soon disposed of SIEMPRE BUENO but, despite strong urging from Ellis, was unable to stave off a strong challenge from ALI BABA leaving in the last furlong.
Finishing third, another 23/4 lengths away, was the 6-5 favourite, ALACRANN, who was unable to go the fast early pace (outpaced), but stayed on in the closing stages, while stable-companion SIEMPRE BUENO faded into fourth.
Halledeen, who has been riding for DaCosta with renewed confidence this season, was notching his first classic win. It was also the first for Kong, who made amends for his near miss in 2009 when his highly fancied horse, THE GUMMER, was beaten by a nose by BRUCEONTHELOOSE in an epic last-furlong duel.
Having saddled both the winner and the runner-up, DaCosta said: "Both were well prepared coming into the race, and with the time of the winner pretty fast, I am expecting good things from both of them in the months ahead."
On a day when visiting Florida-based jockey, Fernando La Cruz, notched his first win in Jamaica - aboard the DaCosta-trained 1-4 favourite MR AMBASSADOR in race six - PHINEAS (12-1) stormed through a furlong out to win the Easter Sprint Cup overnight allowance race ahead of the 26-1 outsider DEO VOLENTE.
One of two winners for jockey Jevanne Erwin, PHINEAS was saddled by Andrew McDonald.