Future King to rule - Triple Crown hopeful headlines chase for glory in Derby
THIRTEEN native bred three-year-olds embark on a once in a lifetime chance for derby glory at Caymanas Park today in the 96th running of the Cal's Jamaica Derby over 2400 metres for the Sir John Mordecai Trophy. At stake is a whopping $7 million purse.
Included in the lineup are Triple Crown aspirants NUCLEAR AFFAIR and FUTURE KING, respective winners of the Post to Post 1000 and 2000 Guineas on April 9.
In addition to this pair, the other main contenders are Oaks winner A THOUSAND STARS and the recent Lotto Classic (Governor's Cup) hero, BIGDADDYKOOL.
All four have been working well in preparation for the race and the winner will more than likely come from this quartet, even though others such as the 2000 Guineas runner-up, ORPHEUS, JAMAI RAJA, who was second in the Lotto Classic and MR. DOITBETTA, have done enough to enter the reckoning.
This is especially so for ORPHEUS, who also finished a good third to stable-companion BIGBADDYKOOL as the favourite in the Lotto Classic. With champion jockey Shane Ellis sticking with the ride, it could prove instructive.
Indeed, high profile trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes holds a strong hand with ORPHEUS and BIGDADDYKOOL, a powerfully built bay gelding by Sorrentino out of Beware Baby, who has come on at the right time and apparently stays forever.
Nunes has retained top apprentice Linton Steadman, who rode such a perfect race in the Lotto Classic and seems an obvious fit for 'Big Daddy', who races in the blue and gold silks of Trinidadian owner Stephan Narinesingh.
Similar to Nunes, champion trainer Wayne DaCosta also holds a strong hand with FUTURE KING and the staying filly, A THOUSAND STARS, to be ridden by stable jockeys Robert Halledeen and Omar Walker, respectively.
DaCosta, a 15-time champion trainer, feels FUTURE KING, the winter book favourite for the classics by virtue of winning the $4.25 million Supreme Ventures Jamaica two-year-old Stakes over a mile last Boxing Day, represents the class horse of the field. He also ran creditably for third over 1820 metres in open allowance company some weeks ago.
Trainer Gary Subratie has high hopes for his talented filly, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, despite her narrow defeat to A THOUSAND STARS in the mile and quarter Oaks, which the trainer attributed to a 'poor ride'.
She has been looking up at exercise in preparation for today's encounter and remembering her fast-time runaway win in the 1000 Guineas in April, could rise to the occasion as both Subratie and owner Michael Bernard (Michros), along with jockey Aaron Chatrie, believe she will stay the derby distance.
While a keen contest is anticipated, I am convinced that the one best equipped to pull it off is FUTURE KING, who should give DaCosta a sixth derby winner following THORNBIRD (1984), WAR ZONE (1996), GOOD PROSPECT (1999), PERFECT NEIGHBOUR (2013) and SEEKING MY DREAM (2015).
Other firm fancies on the 13-race programme are PROLIFIC PRINCESS in the third race, BIG GEORGE to repeat in the fourth, DILIGENT in the fifth, as well as BLESSEDNESSS and ABOVE THE RADAR in the respective sections of the Cal's Real Vibes 180 Classic over a mile.