Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Thanks to two winners on yesterday's eight-race programme at Caymanas Park, title-chasing jockey Dick Cardenas has put some daylight between himself and closest rivals Shane Ellis and reigning champion Omar Walker, in their intriguing contest for the jockeys' championship.
Cardenas booted home 5-2 chance THEREALPRINCE in the third race over 1400 metres, conjuring up a tremendous last-furlong run on the outside to catch DOCTOR DEVIOUS (18-1) and RUN CHARM RUN (6-1) on the wire, winning by a short head.
The quiet Panamanian, who is seeking his first title since riding in Jamaica for the first time in 2008, came back in the fifth race, Division I of the Dr Clifford Grey Memorial Cup feature over 1300 metres, producing 3-5 favourite ACTUS REUS with a sustained run up the lane to overhaul tearaway leader SPIRIT WAY (10-1) in the last 50 metres.
With both Ellis (53 wins) and Walker (48) failing to ride a winner on the card, Cardenas seized the opportunity to increase his lead, moving to 56 wins - three ahead of Ellis and eight clear of four-time champion Walker.
Speaking through his agent, Dwayne 'Hux' Grossett, Cardenas, who is still struggling to speak fluent English, feels he has a good shot at the title if able to avoid injury or suspensions like the three days he picked up last month. In a brief comment Cardenas said:
"I getting the rides and doing well, thanks to my agent and trainer Anthony Nunes. But we still have long way to go in championship and I have to work hard and remain focused," he explained.
A 3-y-o bay gelding by Traditional out of Awesome Wonder, ACTUS REUS is co-owned by Elias Haloute and Stephan Narinesingh and trained by 'Baba' Nunes.
Division II of the divided feature was won by the 2-1 favourite PRINCECHAD, ridden by in-form apprentice Robert Halledeen (who starts a four-day suspension on Saturday) for owner/trainer Edward Walker.
PRINCECHAD, who was always prominent as SIMPLY OUTSTANDING (10-1) led from OUT FOR JUSTICE, went by approaching the distance and held on by a neck from the fast-finishing 20-1 outsider FULLJOY with Oniel Mullings astride.
Trainer Gary Subratie, who is off the island, accounted for two winners in CLASSIC BEAU (made all) in the first race and 6-5 favourite EXPLOSIVE REPORT in the sixth, both ridden by Panamanian jockey Ameth Robles. In Subratie's absence, both horses were saddled by trainers Gordon Lewis and Dalton Sirjue.