Derby disqualification! - Orpheus given victory; Future King, Bigdaddykool relegated
High drama engulfed Caymanas Park yesterday following a double disqualification in the 96th running of the Cal's Jamaica Derby over 2400 metres for native bred three-year-olds.
In an exciting stretch duel involving the three top contenders, 2-1 favourite FUTURE KING, responding to a determined ride from Robert Halledeen,
outran the stable companions BIGDADDYKOOL (7-2) with top apprentice Linton Steadman aboard and ORPHEUS (5-2) under big race jockey Shane Ellis to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
However, following a very lengthy stewards' inquiry and jockeys' objection by Ellis and Steadman against FUTURE KING, there was an amended result.
Amid much controversy, the Wayne DaCosta-trained FUTURE KING was disqualified and placed third, behind ORPHEUS, who in turn was moved up two places, ahead of BIGDADDYKOOL as well.
It is difficult to recall anything similar in a major race in over 50 years of racing at Caymanas Park.
Not even top regional owner, Elias Haloute of Barbados, who owns ORPHEUS, was happy with the outcome, given the circumstances.
"There is no joy in this. It's an unfortunate end to a race as prestigious and time-honoured as the Derby," said Haloute, who had previously won the derby with TERREMOTO in 1998 and RELAMPAGO in 2014 for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes, who conditioned ORPHEUS and BIGDADDYKOOL, recent winner of the Lotto Classic for the Governor's Cup over 2000 metres.
Significantly, BIGDADDYKOOL is owned by Haloute's business partner and friend, the young Trinidadian, Stephan Narinesingh, who was in a pensive mood, but was happy for Haloute.
A SPEECHLESS DACOSTA
Champion trainer, Wayne DaCosta, was left speechless by the disqualification, but Nunes felt it was the right decision as the "intimidatory riding tactics by Halledeen" not only affected one, but his two horses in the stretch duel.
The stewards concluded that Halledeen drifted out his horse when challenged by both horses leaving the quarter pole, causing both Ellis and Steadman to lose their whips. Hence, his disqualification was inevitable.
A chestnut colt by Adore The Gold out of the Pat N Jac mare La Reina, ORPHEUS, who was a strong second to FUTURE KIING in the April 9 2000 Guineas, was bred by Haloute.
Prior to the derby, 15-time champion trainer DaCosta and five-time champion jockey, Trevor Simpson, both ODs, were honoured by Cal's Manufacturing in the presence of Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange for their sterling contribution as unique champions in Jamaican racing, this on a day when NUCLEAR WARNING scored a 99-1 upset in the closing race over 1400 metres.