Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Champion jockey Dick Cardenas notched his third consecutive feature race win at Caymanas Park yesterday when booting home 3-5 favourite ERASMO to a decisive victory in the three-year-old and up overnight allowance race for the Kenneth Mattis OD Trophy over 2000 metres.
Trained by Richard Azan for the 2011 champion owners Elite Bloodstock Limited, ERASMO raced just off the early pace in fourth as the rank outsider PRINCE OF PEACE and the 2009 Superstakes winner HOMBRE (8-5) alternated in the lead in the five-horse field.
HOMBRE, under leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths, shot clear leaving the half-mile but was caught by ERASMO entering the straight, after which the issue was never in doubt, winning 11/2 lengths from HOMBRE.
Bred by HAM Stables, the four-year-old chestnut gelding by Cherokee out of You Can't Hide pushed his career earnings to $5.6 million, thanks to five wins from 20 starts, including the Lotto Classic (Governor's Cup) in May of last year.
Cardenas is enjoying a terrific cup-winning streak, having won the Terremoto Trophy for two-year-olds aboard COUNTRY TRAIN on Wednesday and the Seek Exercise Book Back to School Trophy aboard 9-2 chance REASONABLE PRESS on the previous Saturday.
Leading jockey Dane Nelson and Richie Mitchell shared the riding honours with three winners each, 'Biah' Mitchell winning three of the first four races, including a chance ride aboard 5-1 shot LOVETTA JONES in the fourth race over the straight.
Nelson pushed his season's tally to 90 with wins aboard HATTERAS, CANTARE and VALID IMAGE, to be 24 clear of closest rival Cardenas.
Meanwhile, security at the Caymanas Park racing complex has been beefed up following the shooting death of trainer Tony Kirlew on Friday, August 24 and the $7-million robbery at the track by armed men on the evening of Saturday, August 25.
This was evident at the track and stable area during yesterday's racing.
Frank Jobson, CEO of Caymanas Track Limited, said following a tour of Caymanas Park and its stable area by minister without portfolio in the Finance and Planning Ministry, Horace Dalley, on Monday, there has been a review of the existing security at the racetrack.
"As we re-evaluate the best strategy going forward, persons entering the restricted areas will have to present valid identification cards," said Jobson.
"We are not only strict on IDs, but police and security patrols are now a regular feature, not to mention an increase in security manpower personnel. Electronic surveillance has been upgraded as well," he added.