Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Universal Boss to take control

Published:Saturday | August 17, 2019 | 12:25 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer

THIS afternoon’s O & S Tack Room Trophy feature, at six and a half furlongs, is one of those distances which require a combination of speed, mid-race pace and gumption up the lane to conquer. Anthony Nunes’ UNIVERSAL BOSS has been working like the horse to fit the job description.

Stacked with speed horses, the feature appears a nightmare to figure who among the lot will be able to stay the trip, under sustained pressure, or whether the pace will collapse to the benefit of the middle-distance runners.

Stablemates ROJORN DI PILOT and LADY BLUE, along with BOLD AFLAIR and UNIVERSAL BOSS, are all front-runners in what could turn out to be a tactical affair, considering the pace could be deliberately scorching.

ROJORN DI PILOT’s lone venture beyond six furlongs, last year’s Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes, exposes his résumé and possible intent, drawn next to stablemate LADY BLUE, who used her class to win the Thornbird Stakes at seven furlongs and placed second in the 1000 Guineas at a mile behind I AM DI ONE.

However, LADY BLUE will need some help to fend off another speedster, Gary Subratie’s BOLD AFLAIR, a United States-bred colt, who has shown a liking for five furlongs straight but won as far as six and a half furlongs second time out.

BOLD AFLAIR showed how fast he was on last, chasing home another importee, impressive SPARKLE DIAMOND, a five-furlong straight event in which LADY BLUE had kept her distance from the fray and eventually finished fourth, a performance, which could be attributed to factors such as course, an inside draw against really quick horses, or just plain old not-as-good-as-the-winner, who had spanked her by seven lengths in her previous race.

Whatever DaCosta’s intentions are with ROJORN DI PILOT and LADY BLUE, BOLD AFLAIR will be giving them hell on the lead because his stablamate, CRIMSON, who turned for home fourth in the Jamaica St Leger, after being whispered as a dark horse, following his victory two weeks earlier at 10 furlongs, will be the horse coming at the death.

Though blessed with natural speed that had his connections confining him to mainly sprint distances, UNIVERSAL BOSS, a full brother to stablemate PATRIARCH and half to BILINGUAL, first showed his worth outside of sprints when he carried SUPREME SOUL to the last half-furlong, going seven and a half, in February.

However, because that was a ‘friendly’, UNIVERSAL BOSS wasn’t taken seriously beyond sprints until his last two races, a runaway victory at seven and a half furlongs in June, and a bid at a mile early last month, an event won by stablemate TOONA CILIATA, who returned to run a cracker in the St Leger, losing by a half-length to SUPREME SOUL.

Apprentice Reyan Lewis has been tasked with a big job by Nunes because he will be required to avoid the cass-cass on the lead but, at the same time, must stay close enough, using UNIVERSAL BOSS’ natural pace, to time and inject the sub-1:11.0 fractions his mount had clocked in his last two races.

Lewis appears to be a quick learner and UNIVERSAL BOSS has been working like a bomb, 1:13.2 for six furlongs on Sunday, and 1:06.1, three Wednesdays ago, beating stablemate PRINCE CHARLES at five and a half.

To top it off, UNIVERSAL BOSS has a nice high draw, post-position seven, from which he should have a clear view of the speedsters, making it easier for Lewis to judge the pace. The weight is not bad either, 112lb, for a horse flying at exercise.