Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
By virtue of his fast-time win over 1200 metres last time out, POTCHEEN should extend his winning streak in the competitive-looking War Zone Sprint Trophy over 1100 metres at Caymanas Park today.
Offering a total purse of $845,000, the 3-y-o restricted stakes has attracted 11 starters and while POTCHEEN catches my fancy, he can expect stiff opposition from recent winners CANTARE and DIFERENTGENERATION, as well as the July 25 course winner SUNLIGHT EXPRESS, PRINCE ANDREW, and, not least, LASHING FORCE.
The latter beat all barring smart EL PODEROSO over 1300 metres in a fast-run race on September 8.
POTCHEEN, however, won very easily in the smart time of 1:12.1 with four-time champion Omar Walker aboard and, having impressed at exercise since, he will prove hard to deny despite top weight of 57.0kg.
Although down to carry joint top weight with the Wayne DaCosta-trained CANTARE and SUNLIGHT EXPRESS, most of the others such as LASHING FORCE, DIFERENTGENERATION and PRINCE ANDREW are sitting pretty close to him in the weights and this should play to his advantage, having scored with 56.0kg on August 25.
With fleet-footed types such as SUNLIGHT EXPRESS, SUNSHINE BOY, DIFERENTGENERATION and LASHING FORCE expected to set a fast early pace, it will more than likely come back to the Ian Parsard-trained POTCHEEN, who won't be far off.
CANTARE, who looked razor sharp at exercise on Sunday morning when galloping 51/2 furlongs in a brisk 1:07.2, will have his supporters with leading jockey Dane Nelson again in the saddle, as will LASHING FORCE with Richie Mitchell up and the stretch-running EL PATRON under Shane Ellis.
But POTCHEEN has the best credentials based on the last win and his level of preparation.
Also on the 11-race programme is the annual round-five race for the Winnie Anglin Memorial Cup for maiden two-year-old fillies. This has attracted 12 starters and indications are that the winner will come from the trio of SHAMROCK (Aaron Chatrie up), LADY OF MERIT (Dick Cardenas) and GO GO TRAIN (Omar Walker).
LADY OF MERIT, who hails from the stables of champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, caught the eye when finishing second to COUNTRY TRAIN over the distance on her recent debut. Although SHAMROCK looms a big danger with Lasix now administered, LADY OF MERIT has worked impressively at exercise, coming into this race, and should go one better.
I also like THE VALIDICTORIAN with Cardenas aboard to catch Walker's mount GHOST RAPPER in the opening race over a mile; LUMINOUS TRIESTE (Cardenas again) to win the second; SPECIAL REPORT in the third; down in class NOON IT IS in the fifth for open allowance horses; and MAKIN BOP over SHE'S SO SPECIAL and AWESOME SENSATION in the closing Track Price Plus Dig Out Handicap.