Three the hard way - Future King to atone in ISP St Leger
Given the return of the top three which fought out the finish of the fiercely-contested Cal's Jamaica Derby, in a much anticipated rematch, today's 90th running of the ISP Finance Limited Jamaica St Leger over 2000 metres at Caymanas Park takes on added significance.
The field, comprising nine native bred three-year-olds, includes the June 25 disqualified derby winner FUTURE KING, as well as ORPHEUS, who passed the post third - but was awarded first place following a lengthy stewards' inquiry - and his stable-companion, BIGDADDYKOOL, who was second in a terrific stretch duel with FUTURE KING and ORPHEUS.
Champion jockey Shane Ellis and top apprentice Linton Steadman are back to ride ORPEHUS and BIGDADDYKOOL, respectively. But FUTURE KING will see a change of rider, with four-time champion jockey Omar Walker replacing Robert Halledeen, aboard the Wayne DaCosta-trained colt.
Also present are WILL IN CHARGE, who ran an improved race for fourth in the derby and the fifth-placed horse, A THOUSAND STARS, who won the Oaks over today's trip on April 30.
With the top two fillies, A THOUSAND STARS and 1000 Guineas winner NUCLEAR AFFAIR, failing to measure up to the top colts, I see the race coming down to a replay of the derby, with the three principals - FUTURE KING, BIGDADDYKOOL and ORPHEUS - having it all to fight for in this grand finale.
All three were closely bunched at the finish in an eventful derby, which saw BIGDADDYKOOL suffering interference from long-time leader SORRENTINO'S STAR on the inside approaching the half mile and in turn causing interference to ORPHEUS and WILL IN CHARGE, not to mention FUTURE KING's perceived interference to BIGDADDYKOOL in mid-stretch, forcing him out into ORPHEUS, which resulted in his disqualification; and the riders of ORPHEUS and BIGDADDYKOOL both losing their whips in the straight.
Indeed, this was a race for the Guinness Book of Records.
Recognising that it could go down to the wire among the big three once again, the one I like best is FUTURE KING, whose knack for the big occasion should make the difference, especially with a more level-headed rider (Walker) in the saddle.
FUTURE KING has looked sharper at exercise than the Anthony 'Baba' Nunes-trained duo of ORPHEUS and BIDDADDYKOOL. What's more, the 2000 Guineas hero seems more adept at 10 furlongs and these factors, and more, should tilt the balance in his favour. The dark bay colt by Natural Selection out of Millenium Princess should win from BIGDADDYKOOL.
Other firm fancies on the 13-race programme, which commences at 11:05 a.m., are BOLD SYMPHONY in the second race, SUPERTRONICS in the fifth, BIG BLACK NATION in the eighth, LEGENDARY PRINCESS in the ninth and SOL EL SENOR in the 11th.