Classic Shakree set to get off the mark
Racing fans could not have asked for an easier banker to start tomorrow's Sunrise-6 at Caymanas Park.
The opening event is a 1600 metres race in which the Wayne-DaCosta-trained three-year-old colt WITHOUT EXCEPTION will be seeking his fourth win in a row as he prepares to take on the best of his age group in the upcoming Classics.
In his last start, the half-brother of last year's Triple Crown winner, She's A Maneater, whipped older horses over 1400 metres, clocking a fast 1:24.4. This is a much weaker field, and it should be an afternoon stroll for a colt many believe will also be a Triple Crown winner this year.
The day's second, a 1300 metres race for maiden five-year-olds and up, looks knotty at first glance, but a closer look will show that CLASSIC SHAKREE should get off the mark in this his eighth start.
On February 3, CLASSIC SHAKREE lost by only half a length to Hail Mary over 1000 metres straight, and the connections have made a very positive jockey change. Leading rider Anthony Thomas has replaced the sparingly used Ansel Dancel, and he should make no mistake.
In Race Three, CHEERS returns to his happy hunting ground, the $350,000 claiming group, and over his best distance. The seven-year-old gelding has had his last two wins over the distance, using his superior pace to go clear of rivals from early. He went up to $450,000 claiming 13 days ago but was outclassed by Bay Commander and company and is now back down to the level where he is very comfortable. Veteran jockey Shane Ellis has the ride.
The fourth is another knotty maiden for four-year-old and up fillies and mares. LADY IN THE ARENA (Ellis up) ran on well to be second to Okahumpka over 1000 metres straight last Saturday and should run well again. My selection, however, is the Andrew Nunes-trained METICULOUS. The four-year-old filly by Adore The Gold - Sayamanda crossed the line first on November 1 last year (going 1100 metres) and was subsequently disqualified and placed third. She has not gone close since but has been training extremely well to meet her seasonal debut, and the connections will be hoping that jockey Dick Cardenas will get the job done without mishap this time.
BOFFO is too light to be opposed in Race Five while SIR LEYLAND HALL is still among horses he slammed by five lengths on December 30 and will score another easy win.
1. WITHOUT EXCEPTION
2. CLASSIC SHAKREE
6. SIR LEYLAND HALL