A Thousand Stars wins Oaks
The improving A THOUSAND STARS responded to a brilliant ride from jockey Robert Halledeen to turn the tables on her recent 1000 Guineas conqueror NUCLEAR AFFAIR to win the 77th running of the Caribbean Choice Jamaica Oaks over 2000 metres in a driving finish at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Installed a 9-2 second favourite in a field of 10 native- bred three-year-old fillies, A THOUSAND STARS staged a tremendous rally on the outside after giving way to the howling 1-9 favourite NUCLEAR AFFAIR with champion jockey Shane Ellis, from early in the straight, getting up within shades of the wire to beat her by a neck.
Both raced in touch from the half mile with A THOUSAND STARS from the stables of 15-champion Wayne DaCosta getting first run 600 metres out. But NUCLEAR AFFAIR was sent in serious chase and mounted her challenge on the outside at the final bend to set the stage for a straight fight between the two top contenders. And although NUCLEAR AFFAIR galloped past the furlong pole with a slim lead, she looked to be labouring and was cut down by the renewed challenge of A THOUSAND STARS (switched from rails) in the pedestrian time of 2:12.0.
first Oaks win
GLYDER, who was outpaced towards the rear for most of the way, finished strongly, another 13/4 lengths away, third at odds of 55-1, while SORRENTINO'S STAR, at 5-1, was fourth.
Halledeen was over the moon in notching his first Oaks win against the odds.
"I'm the classic jockey on the premises now", he said, recalling his victory aboard FUTURE KING in the recent Post to Post 2000 Guineas and his Boxing Day win aboard the DaCosta-trained colt in the $4.25 million Supreme Ventures Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes over a mile.
DaCosta said: "She is at a stage of rapid improvement and, despite losing to Nuclear Affair, I thought she would make it close going two turns... Nuclear Affair just never ran her race today and that's how it goes sometimes, but I give Halledeen full marks for a brilliant ride," added DaCosta, who, on the previous Saturday, became the winningest trainer in Jamaica with 1,951 wins, surpassing Phillip Feanny.
A dark bay filly by Storm Craft out of Heart of Gold, A THOUSAND STARS is owned and bred by the trainer's wife, Elizabeth. This was the filly's second win from seven starts with stakes of just over $3 million.
DaCosta had a second winner on the card in event's favourite LOTTERY TICKET in division two of the Ricochet Cup. Also saddling two winners was Neive Graham, both horses, PROLIFIC PRINCESS and ITALIANO, for popular owners O'Shaun Connection. But jockey Omar Walker was the day's top performer with three winners in PACIFIC PRINCESS, ITALIANO and LOTTERY TICKET.