Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Reigning 'Horse of the Year' and champion sprinter SAINT CECELIA overcame problems at the start to win the $1.1 million renewal of the She's On Wheels Trophy grade for feature over 1100 metres for the second consecutive year, at Caymans Park yesterday.
It was another fitting victory for the classy six-year-old mare, seeing that the race is run in honour of her dam, She's On Wheels, herself a top sprinter (imported) in the mid '90s.
Ridden as usual by former champion jockey Shane Ellis for big-race trainer Spencer Chung, SAINT CECELIA was bumped into by her lesser fancied stable companion THE GUV at the start, but recovered well to race prominently in third, as RIO COBRE (9-1) led from highly fancied NOON IT IS (5-2).
SAINT CECELIA soon found her best strides to go in chase of RIO COBRE from the half mile, circled him approaching the home turn and moved away to win by three lengths from NOON IT IS.
She covered the distance in the smart time of 1:04.3 - four fifths of a second outside her own stakes record which came in this race on August 20 last year.
This was SAINT CECELIA's eighth consecutive win and her third in trophy races from as many starts this season. She had previously won the Lotto Sprint Trophy when making her seasonal debut on May 19 and followed up a month later in the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy over 1300 metres.
Owned by Robert and Val Chung and bred by the HAM Stables Limited, SAINT CECELIA has now won 17 races from 28 starts and a whopping $15.3 million in stakes.
Chung confirmed that she sustained a cut to one of her fore legs as a result of the incident at the start. "She recovered to run her race and will be all right ... . Her major objective is to win the Caribbean Sprint in November for a third consecutive year," said Chung, who is aware of the fact that SAINT CECELIA is now in line for a shot at WAR ZONE's 1996 record of 12 consecutive wins, if all goes well with her.
Meanwhile, 11-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta highlighted the nine-race programme with three winners in KAL KAL at 2-1 in the first race, the 1-2 favourite CLASSY PROSPECT in the fifth for overnight allowance horses and IMPERIAL FORTUNE at 7-2 in the 3-y-o maiden condition race over 1500 metres.
Champion Dick Cardenas led all riders with two winners - CLASSY PROSPECT and 5-2 chance BOURNE'S IDENTITY in the fourth.