Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The American three-year-old colt RICHIEHAPPYNOTION outclassed his nine opponents at Caymanas Park yesterday to win the overnight allowance feature for the G.A. 'Sarge' Bucknor Memorial Cup over the straight in fine style.
Installed a 4-5 favourite with four-time champion jockey Omar Walker riding for trainer Lorne Kirlew and Jigzy Blade, 'RICHIE' powered home 31/4 lengths ahead of the early leader MR SKILL (4-1), bidding for his fourth consecutive win, with the little fancied American filly NYABINGHI closing late for third, another three lengths away.
It was the fleet-footed MR SKILL who set off in front as usual, but he was tracked closely by RICHIEHAPPYNOTION angling away from the far side in the early stages, with SMOKING MAN (6-1) and SIR D (3-1) racing in touch.
Leaving the quarter pole, however, MR SKILL was unable to withstand the sustained challenge of RICHIESHAPPYNOTION, who quickly pulled away for a facile victory, covering the distance in the smart time of 58.0, behind fast splits of 22.2 and 45.0 for half mile.
Confident of winning
Kirlew said he was always confident of winning against this set of horses:
"To be frank, him and them no friend", he said. "I trained him lightly so he could save everything for the race itself.
"You must remember he was beaten by NOON IT IS and HUPOMONE in his last two races. And those horses have gone on to better things," recalled the second-generation trainer. Kirlew disclosed that 'RICHIE' will be back in action at next Saturday's St Leger meet in an open allowance race over the straight in which he could come face to face with the unbeaten HUPOMONE.
Leading jockey Dane Nelson (64 wins) rode three winners on the 11-race programme to extend his lead to 18 over reigning champion Dick Cardenas, who managed only one win aboard 4-5 favourite ROCKETEER in the seventh race.
Nelson won aboard 3-5 favourite SEARCHING FOR GOLD, 6-5 favourite ST BERNARD and 3-1 chance LISA VIBES, all for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta.
The latter ran on strongly over 1300 metres to catch the 4-5 favourite DOUBLE BUTTON in 'the glass'. Shane Ellis rode two winners in MERU and GREEN BERET to move to 43 in third.