She's A Maneater's Derby
SHE'S A MANEATER yesterday silenced her doubters to score a fighting victory in the 12-furlong Boom Jamaica Derby, outbattling MARLENE MY LOVE in a stirring stretch duel, with enough left in the tank to hold late-closing SOTOMAYOR at bay by a length-and-a-quarter.
The powerful filly handed 15-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta his sixth Jamaica Derby winner, and jockey Omar Walker, his second, after the pair combined to win the blue riband event two years ago with Seeking My Dream.
Bred in the purple, but with her dam, 2009 Horse of the Year Ahwhofah, being a champion sprinter, SHE'S A MANEATER went to post as a joint 2-1 favourite with HENRY THE SECOND, shrouded in doubt to stay out the gruelling Derby marathon.
The race ran true to script with runaway Jamaica Oaks winner MARLENE MY LOVE settling just off early leader TWILIGHT DREAMS as the 13-horse field thundered past the stands for the first time with THORNHILL MISS in third and SHE'S A MANEATER hugging the rail from postposition one.
Famed for her fast-time Oaks victory, MARLENE MY LOVE took over the lead, entering the backstretch with jockey Robert Halledeen clearly showing his intention to make every post a winning one coming off the first turn.
Walker, a five-time champion, then made a snap decision, immediately sending SHE'S A MANEATER in chase of MARLENE MY LOVE from six furlongs out, leaving nothing to chance against the all-the-way Oaks winner.
"The jockey was going too fast, blazing the trail," Walker told the Sunday Gleaner while weighing in at the winners' enclosure.
"I just took my time, let her get her legs under her and move her up, " Walker said of his timely attack, which started from the half-mile while eight lengths behind.
SHE'S A MANEATER responded like a well-oiled machine, swooping down on MARLENE MY LOVE on the inside at the top of the lane, but had to be switched off the rail when Halledeen cheekily angled his mount to the inner, blocking her attacker's path.
Walker, however, read his rival's move like a well-worn text, reacting almost instinctively to change course immediately as the infringement happened.
Having bought time and two lengths with his manoeuvre, Halledeen roused MARLENE MY LOVE in an effort to steal home from the hindered SHE'S A MANEATER, a move which drew sharp criticism from DaCosta after the race.
"How dirty can they get?" he asked while heading to the winners' enclosure after watching SHE'S A MANEATER chase and collar MARLENE MY LOVE a half-furlong out.
"There is always going to be some doubt when you see a good horse go clear down the backstretch," DaCosta admitted.
"However, SHE'S A MANEATER is a class horse and Omar rode a patient race," he added.
SHE'S A MANEATER posted 2:32.4, the fastest Derby time in 25 years, second only to RESTLESS BABE's 2:32.3 in 1993.
The filly's performance evoked an uncharacteristic show of confidence from DaCosta ahead of next month's 10-furlong St Leger, for which SHE'S A MANEATER is on course to close the Triple Crown.
"It should be easier," the champion trainer said without skipping a beat.