Nunes, Nelson star on Oaks Day
ABOVE AND BEYOND yesterday wore down a game ANOTHER AFFAIR to land the Jamaica Oaks, crowning a bumper day for trainer Anthony Nunes and leading rider, Dane Nelson.
Always a two-horse affair between 1000 Guineas winner, ABOVE AND BEYOND, and runner-up ANOTHER AFFAIR, the pair separated themselves from the field early, dropping out SHEPANZA with a six-furlong split of 1:12.3.
Free-running ANOTHER AFFAIR turned for home just the leader with burly ABOVE AND BEYOND snapping at her heels in a stretch duel that went down to the wire.
Running strongly on the outside, ABOVE AND BEYOND proved stronger inside the last half-furlong, inching away under a bustling ride from Nelson to win by a half-length in 2:06.4.
ABOVE AND BEYOND closed a four-timer for Nelson and three winners for Nunes whose TOONA CILIATA, partnered by Omar Walker, denied 2000 Guineas champion, WOW WOW, a 12th straight win in the Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy.
TOONA CILIATA gave the three-year-old no breathing room at nine furlongs and 25 yards, Walker attacking entering the backstretch and injecting pace approaching the half-mile, causing Robert Halledeen to urge WOW WOW from three furlongs out.
Pushed out by Walker, topweight TOONA CILIATA schooled three-year-old WOW WOW in the stretch run, pulling away for a five-length win.
Meanwhile, it will be all-out war in today’s War Zone Sprint at five and a half furlongs with five of the eight runners renewing rivalry out of a five-furlong straight race won by a rank upsetter, 12-1 shot LOOSE BALL.
LOOSE BALL returns hunting a hat-trick of wins with apprentice Raddesh Roman and is among three Wayne DaCosta runners in the event, joining SIR ALTON and EAGLE ONE, United States-bred colts.
Since winning maiden events, DaCosta’s foreigners have been catching hell against class horses such as MAHOGANY and recently injured RACE CAR.
Having both broken their maiden over the straight course, SIR ALTON and EAGLE ONE, were expected to have done better at the trip on August 1. However, a four-month COVID-19 lay-up and an inside draw worked against SIR ALTON whereas EAGLE ONE failed to capitalise on the three runs he had under his girth, running from mid-track.
The field was cut down by run-on sprinter LOOSE BALL, who came from behind speedsters SHE’S A HIT, SIR ALTON and EAGLE ONE, diving down to the inner rail inside the last furlong, but still lasted home from the quietly whispered importee, SOLID APPROACH, who came flying on the stands’ side, going down by a neck.
In her previous race, when treated with lasix for the first time, SOLID APPROACH was battling EAGLE ONE when RACE CAR split them a furlong out at six and a half, an event in which SHE’S A HIT and CRAFTY AND READY had also alternated on the lead.
If Shane Ellis sits in the catbird seat with SOLID APPROACH, who is not void of pace, and times his run with the big weight, the house of speedsters should come tumbling down to him inside the last half-furlong.
Now on the round course and getting help from three quick runners joining the field – LABAN, SPEECHLESS and American-bred CRAFTY AND READY– a helluva fight is expected, pointing to the possibility of the speed again collapsing, especially with an additional half-furlong to run.