Commander Two storms to 2000 Guineas victory
COMMANDER TWO yesterday used terrifying speed to nullify his rivals and hung on by a neck from 14-1 outsider WESTERN LEGEND, scoring a thrilling 2000 Guineas victory at odds of 8-1.
Breaking widest in the 15-horse field with COMMANDER TWO, non-claiming apprentice Javaniel Patterson surprised everybody, including trainer Patrick Taylor.
"I never expected he was going to lead. I didn't give him any instructions, so when I saw him going for the lead, I wondered aloud, 'What is he doing?'"
However, Patterson, who had been aboard COMMANDER TWO for six of his eight previous races, including three wins, the last two only a half-furlong short of the Guineas mile, knew exactly what he was up to.
"That wasn't a hundred per cent the plan, but when I saw everybody taking a hold, I said, 'Okay, they're waiting for me'. So I decided to show them I can lead," he said.
It was no normal lead, an opening quarter of 23.2, accompanied by a brave WITHOUT EXCEPTION running from post-position one with WESTERN LEGEND in tow, chasing from third.
Patterson increased the pace, heading to the half-mile in splits of 45.3, still being tracked by WITHOUT EXCEPTION and WESTERN LEGEND, leaving other speed horses such as 2-1 second favourite ANOTHER VIGOROUS floundering.
Running strongly coming off the home turn, COMMANDER TWO straightened in a third-quarter split of 1:11.0 and set sail for home.
"I held him right to the two, and I knew he was going to kick," said a confident Patterson after notching the biggest win of his career, which started about two and a half years ago.
COMMANDER TWO responded by digging in to stave off WESTERN LEGEND, who rallied strongly on the inner to get within a neck at the wire with Robert Halledeen aboard, hunting a Guineas double after landing Saturday's fillies' race with DISABILITY CHARM.
WITHOUT EXCEPTION, who ran as recently as last week Saturday, winning at five furlongs round, stayed on to finish third with Gary Richards.
Taylor was lost for words in saddling the biggest winner of his career, finally handing owner Vin White a classic victory. White came close to winning the Guineas in 2008 with COMMANDER ZERO, losing to Anthony Nunes' ROYAL IMAGE in 2008.
"I am elated. I feel so good, words can't explain," said the trainer popularly known as 'Mice', who started out as a clocker before venturing into conditioning horses.