Nunes holds strong hand in Lotto Classic
Top-line trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes is likely to saddle four or five horses for Saturday's Lotto Classic for the Governor's Cup over 2000 metres at Caymanas Park, as he seeks to make amends for RELAMPAGO's near miss in this race a year ago.
RELAMPAGO, the subsequent Derby and St Leger winner, failed by a short head to catch the front-running TALENTED TONY K in the Supreme Ventures-sponsored event. The race will mark the 75th running of the Governor's Cup and the 19th under the Lotto brand.
When contacted on Monday evening, Nunes said four of his horses are certain to start, namely, SIEMPRE BUENO, with big-race jockey Shane Ellis; the unbeaten SOUTHERN CRUISE, under champion jockey Dane Nelson; and the outsiders BALLON D'OR, with Aaron Chatrie, and HOUDINI'S MAGIC.
Nunes is toying with the idea at this stage of starting stable star ALACRANN, who was a beaten favourite in the April 6 2000 Guineas over a mile, when finishing third to ALI BABA and SEEKING MY DREAM.
He confirmed that ALACRANN, last season's champion two-year-old, has two options on Saturday.
"He could run with top weight in the Governor's Cup or contest an overnight allowance race over 1820 metres as his final prep for the Derby. A decision will be made by Wednesday (today)," said the second generation trainer.
"Should ALACRANN bypass the Governor's Cup, I will be strongly represented just the same by SIEMPRE BUENO and SOUTHERN CRUISE.
"SIEMPRE BUENO, who won the Prince Consort Guineas Trial and was fourth to ALI BABA in the 2000 Guineas, is working well and has the class to win. SOUTHERN CRUISE, on the other hand, will definitely stay the distance. He is unbeaten in two starts and could be anything.
"While not as talented as the others, I also have two good outsiders in BALLON D'OR and HOUDINI'S MAGIC. Both will get the distance and will come in pretty light at the weights.
"My horses are coming to run and despite stiff opposition from the Wayne DaCosta-pair of SEEKING MY DREAM and POKER STAR, both of whom won last time out, the outcome should serve as a firm pointer to the Cal's Jamaica Derby on June 13," he added.
SIEMPRE BUENO looked real sharp at exercise last Saturday when cantering nine furlongs, the last six in a brisk 1:12.3 (bullet work), while SOUTHERN CRUISE galloped seven furlongs in 1:29.2 alongside stable-companion ALACRANN, who also clocked 1:29.2.
SEEKING MY DREAM, to be ridden by four-time champion Omar Walker for the first time (replacing Ellis) for DaCosta, looked fluent at exercise on Sunday morning when cantering nine furlongs, the last six in 1:15.3. And stable companion POKER STAR looked razor sharp on Sunday when cantering nine furlongs, the last six in 1:13.0.
The Patrick Chang-trained ROAD WI SEH also caught the eye at exercise on Sunday, galloping seven furlongs in 1:27.2 (bullet work).
A large field is expected to face the starter for the $3-million race.