Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Eight-time champion trainer, Kenneth Mattis, who announced his retirement almost 10 weeks ago after a long and distinguished racing career, greets fans on RJR Jamaica St Leger raceday at Caymanas Park, July 12. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance photographer
Caymanas Track Limited pays tribute to eight-time champion trainer Kenneth Mattis at Cay-manas Park today, this following his retirement in July at age 71.
It has been designated Kenneth Mattis Day and rightly so. Significantly, Mattis, who turned 72 yesterday, has the distinction of being the only racing personnel to be inducted twice into the Hall of Fame of Thoroughbred racing - first, as a jockey and later, as a trainer.
For his sterling contribution to horseracing, Mattis was conferred with the national honour, the Order of Distinction (OD) in 2001. He saddled 1,070 winners as a trainer and rode 446 winners as a jockey.
Today, most of the races on the 11-race programme are named for horses trained by Mattis. To mark the occasion, a race will be run in honour of the man affectionately called 'Kiddy'. It is the three-year-old and up overnight allowance race for the Kenneth Mattis O.D. Trophy, to be contested by eight starters over 2000 metres.
This promises keen competition with the likes of PRIME MINISTER, MR. BLAIR, IL CAIMANO, GUIDING LIGHT, QUEEN OF MY HEART and hat-trick seeker AGUILA expected to figure prominently.
PRIME MINISTER returns at the convenient mark of 51.5kg with in-form Dane Nelson again in the saddle and gets a glorious opportunity to visit the winners' enclosure.
MR BLAIR, however, is such a genuine and progressive sort that it could pay to follow him in his bid for the hat-trick.
Trained by Noel Ennevor, the chestnut colt by Hail Orphan out of Brown Sugar, finished fourth to subsequent Triple Crown winner, ALSAFRA, in the Digicel Derby and sixth in the St Leger after suffering interference.
Following the end of the classic campaign, he won easily over 1300 metres on July 26 and subsequently followed up over 1500 metres on September 3 when getting up in the nick of time to pip subsequent winner, MACHISMO, by a nose.
This speaks volumes for the chances of MR BLAIR, who not only continues to please in his preparation but should welcome the easier pace of this race.
He will love the distance and despite the sound claims of PRIME MINISTER, looks best equipped to pull it off.
Five-time champion jockey Trevor Simpson has the ride from the convenient mark of 51.5kg.
I also like down in class GOOD CITIZEN to win the $1 million CTL Imported Stakes at the expense of PURE SILK, DOLLAR WIN to land the Dr. Ralston Feanny Trophy over 1100 metres.