Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Battles intensify at the Park

Published:Wednesday | November 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer

A BETTER script couldn't have been written for this afternoon's 10-race card as the battles intensify in a gripping war between the top two barns at Caymanas Park.

Anthony Thomas is separated by seven winners from his pursuer in the jockeys' standings, Panamanian Dick Cardenas, each having secured seven rides. Meanwhile, their chief backers, champion trainer Wayne DaCosta and Anthony Nunes, with $2.7m separating them, each have four runners on the card, culminating in the 10th event with the rival jockeys astride.

Nunes and Cardenas have made inroads on the leaders over the last two meets. Since Superstakes Day, Nunes has logged back-to-back two-timers whereas Cardenas' three-timer on Saturday has brought him the closest he has been to Thomas all season.

The final event, a five-furlong round sprint, restricted to three-year-olds, non-winners of two races and imported maidens, pits Cardenas astride Nunes' K J EXPRESS against SERGEANT RECKLESS, who now reports out of DaCosta's barn with Thomas aboard.

The runners are locking horns for the second time in two and a half weeks, SERGEANT RECKLESS bought privately by DaCosta, for owner Carlton Watson, from Philip Feanny, for whom the dark bay filly had raced as recent as last Wednesday when beaten in the final event by Nunes' FASHIONISTA.

When they met at five and a half furlongs on October 3, K J EXPRESS narrowly lost to run-on sprinter GARRINCHA in a pace that was bound to come back. SERGEANT RECKLESS was two lengths behind in third place.

Though that was SERGEANT RECKLESS' third race off a three-month layup, she never threatened KJ EXPRESS, who actually disputed the lead and was a length and a half clear a furlong out before GARRINCHA grabbed her at the wire to win by a short head.

SERGEANT RECKLESS did return to run a sharp second to FASHIONISTA last Wednesday at five furlongs straight. In fairness to her, SERGEANT RECKLESS was giving away 12lb to a horse with back class at a distance more suiting her rival.

However, with the distance cut back to five furlongs round, K J EXPRESS has to be given the nod over his rival, who is not the best drawn at post position five with two speed horses occupying stalls next to her, FORMAL GLADIATOR and STORM BORN, which could spell trouble at the half-mile marker.

Nunes could very well land a third consecutive two-timer to send his fan club into overdrive as ORPHEUS' lack of activity at exercise should not be mistaken for lack of fitness. The five-year-old horse has made his way back down to overnight allowance where he won in January and followed up with a victory up in class the next month.

ORPHEUS is a top open allowance horse. In July, he was similarly prepared for a five-furlong straight event and lost by a head to CAMPESINO, running at odds of 4-1.