Hat trick for Campesino
CAMPESINO completed a hat-trick of cup race wins at Caymanas Park on Saturday, lowering the colours of two-time 'Horse of the Year' SEEKING MY DREAM in the grade one feature for the Lady Geeta Trophy over 1200 metres, to be unbeaten in three starts this season.
Running as the even-money second favourite with Robert Halledeen riding for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny and popular owner Howard Hamilton, CAMPESINO duly confirmed his status as the country's top sprinter in winning by 3/4 length from 12-1 outsider GARY GLITTER with another 1 1/2 to 2-5 favourite SEEKING MY DREAM in third in a field of seven.
CAMOPESINO, who had previously won the St. Catherine Cup over 1100 metres on January 7 and the grade one Eileen Cliggott Memorial Cup over 1300 metres on February 18, both in fast times, covered the distance in the smart time of 1:11.1 to equal the stakes record held by TEMPERENCE OAKS (also trained by Feanny) since July, 1997.
The Dalton Sirjue-trained GARY GLITTER ran a brave race in defeat, leading at a fast clip under Chadrick Budhai ahead of CAMPENSINO and SEEKING MY DREAM, with champion jockey Omar Walker racing prominently in third on the inside leaving the half mile.
CAMPESINO grabbed the lead three wide on entering the straight and with GARY GLITTER fighting back and SEEKING MY DREAM looming large on the rails, the 7-y-o gelding by Compadre out of Yaella found extra under a bustling ride from Halledeen to win in a driving finish,
Winning owner Howard Hamilton said he was always confident of victory:
'I couldn't see Seeking My Dream stopping us over this trip. True, he's the class horse, but the truth is he has never won over sprint distances and was at a disadvantage especially coming from the number one post position.
"What's more, Campesino is not only the reigning sprint champion, having won the Glen Mills Caribbean Sprint over this trip last November, but is a different horse this season. Looking ahead, he will be confined to sprint distances with his major objective being to win the Caribbean Sprint for a second straight year", added the former champion owner.
Although out of luck with the Wayne DaCosta-trained SEEKING MY DREAM, leading jockey Omar Walker (28 wins) rode three winners on the card to extended his lead over former champion Dane Nelson (21 wins) in the jockeys' standings. Among his winners were the Wayne Parchment-trained duo comprising ZEPHYR at 7-2 in the second race and WAR TIME, a 6-5 favourite in the closing race for the Jamaica Jockeys' Guild Trophy over 1400 metres. Nelson and former champion Shane Ellis rode two winners each on the card.
Meanwhile, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited, the new owners of Caymanas Park via divestment since March 7, has allocated $100 million to purses effective last Saturday. The breakdown represent a 20 per cent increase across the board, with a grade one race moving up to $1.3 million (winning owner gets $700,000), open allowance $1.15 million and overnight allowance $1 million.