Thu | Jul 9, 2020

Back on track - God of Love to rule supreme as racing returns to Caymanas Park today

Published:Saturday | June 20, 2020 | 12:20 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
Horses leaving the starting gate at Caymanas Park in St Catherine.
Horses leaving the starting gate at Caymanas Park in St Catherine.

GOD OF LOVE, on pre-COVID form, having run well twice this season, should be the horse to beat in this afternoon’s five-and-a-half furlong non-restricted overnight allowance dash. However, speedy MR UNIVERSE has two unrecorded five-furlong gallops, both during the lockdown, which make him dangerous coming off the break.

GOD OF LOVE ran two big open allowance races in February, first chasing home five-straight specialist PATRIARCH and RAS EMANUEL in 58.2, followed by another super effort, tackling SUPERLUMINAL, who he kept honest from the gate to the furlong pole before the ace miler found an extra gear under Omar Walker, winded but lasting home by a neck from fast-finishing ATLANTIC BLUE.

Wayne DaCosta’s MR UNIVERSE, one of the fastest horses at Caymanas Park, disappointed as a 1-5 favourite in his last run but could very well report rejuvenated off the COVID-19 lay-up, especially with apprentice Romario Spencer bringing his weight down to 117lb.

A proven open-allowance runner, MR UNIVERSE does have a question sign hanging over his head. He returned off a nine-month lay-up last September, placing second to stablemate RUN THATCHER RUN, and almost made all in the Caribbean Sprint a month later, caught inside the last half-furlong by ANOTHER BULLET.

Though he won one of his three starts after the Caribbean Sprint, MR UNIVERSE didn’t seem himself last time out, December 18, finishing dead last behind EXHILARATE, uncharacteristically missing the break, which left him with no chance in a five-round race won in 58.3.

CONSISTENT FORM

In contrast, GOD OF LOVE proved himself one of the most consistent horses in training last year, seven victories, including a leap from beating overnight allowance to fourth next time out in the grade one Caribbean Sprint, form which he carried over to this season.

GOD OF LOVE turned out to be a $1m dream claim for Fitzgerald Richards on December 19, a casualty of the Anthony Nunes-Wayne DaCosta trainers’ championship battle. Acquired privately from Philip Feanny’s barn by Nunes’ connections at the height of the war, GOD OF LOVE was sent to the front line on a $1m claim tag, mid-December, beating K D FLYER in a fast 1:04.4 at five and a half furlongs.

Fitzgerald’s big-spending claiming owner, Vincent Maine, swooped down on the Adore The Gold–Shanda D gelding, winning the raffle, and sent him out seven days later to beat none other than Nunes’ PRINCE CHARLES by a stinging neck, proving his 1:04.4 was no fluke by posting 1:11.3 for six furlongs in overnight allowance.

Among six runners in the 14-horse field with open-allowance experience under his girth, GOD OF LOVE might seem burdened with 126lb. However, he is either sharing topweight with the other five or sitting close enough to floor them with his proven class as a run-on sprinter.

Gary Subratie’s BOLD AFLAIR shares topweight 126lb with GOD OF LOVE but definitely prefers five furlongs straight, the trip at which he recorded two of his three victories. DaCosta’s UNCLE FRANK is versatile but too heavy, even at 117lb, to catch the natural sprinters.

PEKING CRUZ is way over the hill whereas CHACE THE GREAT, a former Caribbean Sprint Sprint winner, has also seen better days, midway to being an eight-year-old and facing off with a sprite four-year-old, GOD OF LOVE, while sitting only five pounds off his younger rival.

ainsley.walters@gleanerjm.com

Please note that the Saturday horse-racing programme, starting this weekend, now appears in the new-look Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited Racing Along feature in the Friday Gleaner.