1000 Guineas here we come!
High-profile owner Winston Kong was over the moon at Caymanas Park yesterday following his filly's, SHE'S A MANEATER, fast-time win in the 26th running of the Front Runner-sponsored Thornbird Stakes (Guineas trial) over 1400 metres, now feeling pretty confident he can win the 1000 Guineas over a mile in April.
Following the disappointment last Boxing Day when beaten for the first and only time by SOTOMAYOR in the Supreme Ventures Jamaica 2-Y-O Stakes over a mile, Kong said he is happy that 'MANEATER' has passed this important test to give 16-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta one of four winners on the card, and reigning champion jockey Omar Walker one of three. Walker and DaCosta also teamed up to win the 26th running of the Prince Consort Stakes for colts and geldings with 4-5 favourite FEARLESS SAMURAI.
Kong, who also bred SHE'S A MANEATER, said: "It wasn't a case of her winning this race, but the manner in which she achieved the victory. She suffered interference early in the race and was badly placed after the first two furlongs, at which stage I had grave doubts that she could win. But she gradually recovered as Marlene My Love and Money Magnet alternated in the lead, showing me that she had the capacity to motor from off the pace.
"She closed rapidly on the rails to overall Money Magnet in deep stretch for the victory.
"This was a different side to her ... She showed me she can fight and win, and this augurs well for the 1000 Guineas," he explained. "In six outings, she has never lost to a filly and, knowing this, I feel confident she can win the Guineas and the Oaks in the coming weeks. Given her abundance of class, she could turn out to be good as her mother, Ahwhofah, who, though failing in her bid to win the 1000 Guineas in 2008, the year when Alsafra won the triple crown, distinguished herself in 2009 to be voted 'Horse of the Year'. She was sired by Natural Selection and definitely has the pedigree to go far," added the veteran owner.
DaCosta was equally impressed by the filly's performance. "She won in the pretty fast time of 1:25.1 and, in light of this performance, I can say I am super confident about her chances in the Guineas in another three weeks", said the Hall of Fame trainer who has saddled over 2,000 winners in a long and distinguished career.
His other winners on the 11-race programme were the Walker-ridden LITTLE BIG HORN (owned jointly by Kong) at 5-2 in the third race over the straight, the lightly-raced PAPER CHASER at 4-1 with Jevanne Erwin aboard in the sixth, and FEARLESS SAMURAI, a 4-5 favourite with Walker riding for owner Elizabeth DaCosta in the Prince Consort Stakes, a race he won by three lengths from long-time leader WESTERN WARRIOR in a time of 1:26.0.
Meanwhile, 29-year-old Nigel Burke, who started training five months ago, saddled his first winner, BRUCE WAYNE (6-1), in the seventh race over 1820 metres for maiden three-year-olds. Burke is the grandson of late Hall of Fame trainer Nigel Nunes and the nephew of topline trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes.