Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Recent winner COBRA is poised to repeat when he takes on five opponents in the $450,000-$400,000 claiming race for the Oswald 'Ossie' Steele Memorial Cup feature at Caymanas Park today.
The small field includes another recent winner, EMERGENCE, to be ridden by in-form claiming apprentice Robert Halledeen and the down-in-class duo of PRINCE OF PEACE and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, all expected to provide keen competition for COBRA in a race of this nature.
A year or so ago, ONLY BEGOTTEN SON would have had little difficulty in winning this race, having won in overnight company in January of last year. But he has proved difficult to train and this marks only his fourth outing in 18 months. Both COBRA and EMERGENCE, neither of whose fitness is in doubt, are better propositions.
EMERGENCE has good speed and will be gunning to make all. But he should be tracked closely by COBRA coming into the straight and in the ensuing duel, I am expecting COBRA with Richard Mairs aboard to prove stronger in the last furlong.
Trained by Norman Palmer, the five-year-old bay gelding by Alisios out of August Game has worked well in preparation for this trophy and even with 56.0kg is definitely the one to beat over what is an ideal trip.
3-y-o and up overnight allowance
Also on the 11-race programme is a 3-y-o and up overnight allowance race over 1600 metres to be contested by eight starters.
With horses of the calibre of the 2011 Derby winner TECHNOMOTO, Governor's Cup winner ERASMO, the useful CLASSY PROSPECT and the American fillies REASONABLE PRESS and NYABINGHI present, this one could go down to the wire.
Preference is for the Phillip Feanny-trained REASONABLE PRESS, who went down fighting against GO GO YVONNE over 1500 metres on June 16, a race in which NYABINGHI finished another 6 1/2 lengths third.
REASONABLE PRESS, who has worked well since, toted topweight of 57.0kg on that occasion. Today he carries 54.0kg for the services of leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths.
Other firm fancies on the card are DOUBLE BUTTON to go one better in the second race over 1100 metres, HOWGREATTHOUGHARE who lost it on the wire last time out to atone in the third, HIGH CUBE in the fifth, HERMOSO AMIGO in the eighth and SPECIAL DECREE in the second Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) Jockey Training School Race for the upcoming apprentice riders over 1300 metres.
The youngsters are going through the final phase of their training (race riding techniques) under the guidance of the legendary jockey Emilio 'Bimbo' Rodriquez.