Hot riders clash in today's fifth at Caymanas Park
The two hottest jocks at Caymanas Park, Panamanian Dick Cardenas and two-kilo claiming apprentice Anthony Thomas, are astride the favourites for this afternoon's open allowance at five furlongs round - DWAYNE STAR and SIR BUDGET, respectively.
Cardenas, the 2011 champion jockey, has racked up an incredible 18 winners in eight race meets since returning to the saddle at Caymanas on September 16. Not a day has passed without him visiting the winners' enclosure. On Saturday, he made three trips, including aboard SIEMPRE BUENO in the Ahwhofah Sprint.
Thomas, meanwhile, exploded from obscurity to now hold down fourth place in the riders' standings on 36 winners, 10 behind joint third-place Shane Ellis and Wesley Henry, veteran jockeys with many years of experience in their britches.
Thomas has already beaten Cardenas at least once in a thrilling finish, a month ago in the Saint Cecelia Trophy, riding CHOO CHOO BLUE to beat ANOTHER BULLET by a short head with the Panamanian astride.
Aboard SIR BUDGET, Thomas has the handicaps and distance in his favour. Last week Monday, the five-year-old chestnut speedster led HOUDINI'S MAGIC into the lane in the seven-furlong Gold Cup, running way out of his depth in the middle-distance Grade One race.
After turning for home, ripping splits of 23.1, 33.3, 45.3 and 57.4 for five furlongs, SIR BUDGET gave up the gallop just shy of the furlong-and-a-half marker, attacked by HOUDINI'S MAGIC, CHOO CHOO BLUE and CHACE THE GREAT.
Returning a pound lighter and going two furlongs shorter, SIR BUDGET will be running on a discount. The horse that was expected to cause problems on the lead for SIR BUDGET, DWAYNE STAR's stablemate, TALENTED TONY K, was scratched from the event, unable to make the final programme. As a result, dangerous Cardenas has switched rides to run-on sprinter DWAYNE STAR.
Though running light at 50.5 kilos, a pound heavier than SIR BUDGET, DWAYNE STAR needs a horse like his stablemate to take the speedster out of his comfort zone at five furlongs round. FORCE DE JOUR seems the next-best candidate but hasn't been such a force on the round course this season at six years old.
United States-bred FORCE DE JOUR's last eight runs have been split evenly between the round course and five furlongs straight, where he won his only race in September, upsetting SIEMPRE BUENO in overnight allowance.
Scarcity of speed to match SIR BUDGET could force Cardenas to have DWAYNE STAR do the chasing himself, not exactly the type of race a run-on sprinter would want against a horse who cost BUZZ NIGHTMARE the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission Trophy in August.
Carrying 115lb at five-and-a-half furlongs, SIR BUDGET ran the 2016 Gold Cup winner ragged on the lead, resulting in run-on horses CHOO CHOO BLUE and ANOTHER BULLET catching both speedsters at the death in a bang-up finish.
With the handicaps, distance and controlling speed to his advantage, Thomas only needs a cool head and patience to see SIR BUDGET home.