She's A Maneater to outclass Derby field
THIS afternoon's Boom Jamaica Derby, an $8m Battle of the Sexes, has had even the most knowledgeable of pundits in a quandary, trying to predict a winner from among the top-two fillies - 1000 Guineas winner SHE'S A MANEATER and Oaks heroine MARLENE MY LOVE - or the colts and gelding, who passed the post first to fourth in the Lotto Classic Governor's Cup - HENRY THE SECOND, MARKET FORCE, FEARLESS SAMURAI and SOTOMAYOR.
Throw into the mix the racing adage that a good colt or gelding will always beat a good filly, while rubbing in the final ingredient, class versus stamina at 12 furlongs, to get the final product - a race worth going the proverbial mile to see.
Champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, a five-time Derby winner, has two horses in the event still in with a shot at the Triple Crown, 2000 Guineas winner FEARLESS SAMURAI and SHE'S A MANEATER, who has a race record of one loss in eight starts.
SHE'S A MANEATER is the ante-pot favourite and will break from post-position one with four-time champion jockey Omar Walker going for his second win in the event after guiding home DaCosta's SEEKING MY DREAM in 2015.
SHE'S A MANEATER was sired by Natural Selection, who also fathered DaCosta's 2013 Derby winner, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR. She is yet to venture beyond a mile, the distance at which shed, won her last two races, including the 1000 Guineas.
Her doubters are looking past Natural Selection, instead pointing to her dam, AHWHOFAH, a two-time DaCosta champion sprinter and top middle-distance performer.
Among SHE'S A MANEATER's doubters is trainer Dwight Chen, whose MARLENE MY LOVE won April's 10-furlong Jamaica Oaks by a dozen lengths in 2:08.3, bettering the colts and geldings' 2:09.3, posted in the May 29 Lotto Classic.
Chen believes MARLENE MY LOVE, a half-sister to MARK MY WORD, the 2010 Derby winner and three-time Superstakes champion, has been more impressive than the colts and geldings at a distance of ground and suggested SHE'S A MANEATER's stamina limitations will be exposed at 12 furlongs.
"Usually, a horse running 2:08.3 before the Derby is excellent. If she was to run 10 furlongs now, I would expect her to improve on it," he said.
"I know she will love 12 furlongs. I can't say that about a lot of the others. She has done everything I have asked her to do. Sunday morning, she went 1:28.0 for seven furlongs and could have gone better.
"You have the likes of SOTOMAYOR, if he comes on the day. HENRY THE SECOND stays as well. I doubt the staying ability of MARKET FORCE going 12 furlongs, so too SHE'S A MANEATER," Chen added.
DaCosta's FEARLESS SAMURAI finished third at 10 furlongs in the Governor's Cup under topweight 57.0 kilos, but was running 16lb heavier than first-past-the-post HENRY THE SECOND and six more than MARKET FORCE, who was awarded the race after a stewards' enquiry and jockey's objection from Shane Ellis against Dick Cardenas.
Both DaCosta runners, SHE'S A MANEATER and FEARLESS SAMURAI, are on target for the Triple Crown, which is completed by the Derby and St Leger, after landing the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, respectively.
The Guineas are won by the classiest three-year-olds, using a combination of speed and pace, traits which make the stablemates dangerous Derby contenders, both now having the scale swung in their favour - SHE'S A MANEATER by sex allowance and FEARLESS SAMURAI, having his Governor's Cup conquerors now sitting level with him at topweight.
Of the two, SHE'S A MANEATER's tactical speed, which she displayed in the seven-furlong Thornbird Stakes, almost tailed off at the half-mile, before powering through to win in 1:25.1, proved that she can be rated, which should allow her to take over the race and slip the field after the first nine furlongs.