Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
In an impressive display, the 2010 'Horse of The Year' MARK MY WORD turned up the heat from early in the straight to win the 34th running of the CTL Superstakes over 2000 metres for the third consecutive year before a capacity crowd at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Installed a 2-5 odds-on favourite with leading all-time jockey Winston 'Fanna' Griffiths riding for big-race trainer Richard Azan, MARK MY WORD won by 33/4 lengths from the 60-1 outsider CLASSY PROSPECT with leading jockey Dane Nelson aboard, while the 2009 winner HOMBRE, under champion jockey Dick Cardenas, was third at odds of 15-1.
COMMANDING CHIEF, who was second to MARK MY WORD last year, could not get as close this time around, finishing fourth at 5-1 with former champion jockey Omar Walker aboard.
"I rank him among the best Jamaica has produced," said trainer Azan, who created Superstakes history by saddling his eighth winner - four with MENUDO, three with MARK MY WORD and the first with DORVAL in 1995 - surpassing Hall of Fame trainer Philip Feanny with seven.
Griffiths has now ridden seven Superstakes winners. The five-time champion jockey said of MARK MY WORD: "I wouldn't tell you he's the best, but one of the best I have ridden... When I asked him for his effort approaching the home turn, he responded and I knew it was all over," said the 54-year-old Hall of Fame jockey.
Owner Randy McLean of Elite Bloodstock Limited paid the biggest compliment to MARK MY WORD:
"He has won it all... The Triple Crown, three Superstakes, the Harry Jackson Memorial Cup, you name it. He must now be ranked in the same league with LEGAL LIGHT and MIRACLE MAN," he said.
Yesterday it was the Wayne DaCosta-trained CLASSY PROS-PECT who led passing the stands for the first time, ahead of MARK MY WORD, closely followed by this year's Derby and St Leger winner TYPEWRITER (Shane Ellis up) racing as a team with COMMANDING CHIEF and UNCLE DONNY not far adrift in fifth with Trinidadian jockey Brian Harding aboard.
The order remained the same as the race progressed, before MARK MY WORD and TYPEWRITER began to move in on the leader as a team leaving the half mile. MARK MY WORD, however, soon quickened away from TYPEWRITER and caught up with CLASSY PROSPECT approaching the final bend.Both turned for home on level terms, but MARK MY WORD on the outside quickly gained the ascendancy. He passed the furlong pole some two lengths clear of CLASSY PROSPECT and under a right-hand whip from Griffiths, moved away for an emphatic win, his 15th win from 23 starts in a truly outstanding racing career, during which he has earned a record $23.5 million in stakes.
Owned by two-time champions Elite Bloodstock Limited and bred by HAM Stables Limited, the classy five-year-old chestnut horse by Market Rally out of Miss Chestnut joined MENUDO and THE VICEROY as the only horses to have won the Superstakes three times or more, the Azan-trained MENUDO winning the race for four consecutive years from 1999 to 2002.
On a day when the handle (sales) topped $40 million for the first time this season, 'Horse of the Year' SAINT CECELIA, with Ellis riding for trainer Spencer Chung, made all to complete a hat-trick of wins in the Caribbean Sprint Championship, while the Lorne Kirlew-trained MISMYRTLEBOYRICHIE (Walker up) also went gate to wire in the CTL Imported Mile.