Bigdaddykool romps St Leger
The Lotto Classic (Governors Cup) hero and derby runner-up BIGDADDYKOOL stamped himself as the country's most improved three-year-old with an emphatic victory in the 90th running of the ISP Finance Limited Jamaica St. Leger over 2,000 metres, the season's final classic, at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Trained by Anthony 'Baba' Nunes for Trinidadian owner Stephan Narinesingh, BIGDADDYKOOL, running at odds of 5-2 with top apprentice Linton Steadman again in the saddle, streaked home by all of 14 lengths from 23-1 outsider WILL IN CHARGE (Jevanne Erwin up), who, in turn, finished three-quarter length ahead of the 1,000 Guineas winner NUCLEAR AFFAIR (6-1) in third with Robert Halledeen aboard.
Like the June 25 Cal's Jamaica Derby, which saw the disqualification of first past the post FUTURE KING and the race awarded to the third horse ORPHEUS, the St. Leger turned out to be another eventful race.
ORPHEUS, with champion jockey Shane Ellis riding for Nunes, broke down after turning for home ahead of his rail-running stable-companion BIGDADDYKOOL and gave way a furlong out and having to be pulled up.
This prompted Ellis to declare after the race: "He would have won by five lengths, but when he stumbled for the first time leaving the half mile, I had my concerns, and my worst fears were realised in mid-stretch ... This was a disappointing end to the 2016 classic season for him, but I am hoping he recovers to run in the Superstakes in November," said the two-time champion jockey.
If the misfortune that thwarted 5-1 chance ORPHEUS wasn't enough, the howling 1-2 favourite FUTURE KING from the stables of 15-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta also had his issues, running well below par (outpaced) to finish last, but one with leading jockey Omar Walker aboard.
BIGDADDYKOOL raced just off the early pace on the rails at the halfway stage as JAMAI RAJA (17-1) made most of the running from NUCLEAR AFFAIR (6-1) and ORPHEUS, who got first run on the winner approaching the final bend.
But fortune smiled on BIGDADDYKOOL as he capitalised on the misfortune of ORPHEUS to win by the proverbial city block. There was a stewards' inquiry and jockey's objection against runner-up WILL IN CHARGE, but the result was allowed to stand.
BIGDADDYKOOL is a 3-y-o bay gelding by Sorrentino out of Beware Baby, bred by the HAM Stables Limited. This was his fourth win from 10 starts with stakes of $6.5 million.
Trainer 'Baba' Nines felt vindicated with the result, claiming that "BIG DADDY' would have won the derby given a trouble-free run in that terrific stretch duel with FUTURE KING and ORPHEUS.
"Orpheus came out of the derby with issues and the fact that he failed to finish the race today, says it all."
Narinesingh, currently the leading owner with over $8 million in stakes, says his objective is to win the championship for the first time this year.