Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
VONALMIGHTY, now dropped in class, should score an overdue victory at the expense of super fit CRUISER in today's Altamont V. Armond Memorial Cup feature over 2000 metres at Caymanas Park.
The race is confined to horses in the $350,000-$300,000 claiming spread and 13 of them will face the starter.
Although running below par in open and overnight allowance company for some time, VONALMIGHTY, now stepping down three classes, should be able to assert himself at this level with in-form Omar Walker riding for trainer Ian Parsard.
VONALMIGHTY last won on February 8 last year when leading home JET SETTER and PRINCE ROHAN over 1820 metres in overnight company. And two months earlier, he beat NYABINGHI in a driving finish over today's trip, again in overnight company.
The seven-year-old bay gelding has declined in ability during the second half of last year, but is good to go at this level. With a trophy at stake and the trip now ideal, the son of Western Classic-Lunar Explosion gets a golden opportunity to win a race.
CRUISER, who bids for the four-timer with competent apprentice Davidan Robinson again in the saddle, won his last two races by wide margins and although running from a different barn (claimed), this will not deter him.
On the score of fitness, CRUISER looks the biggest danger to VONALMIGHTY.
Elsewhere on the nine-race programme, champion trainer Wayne DaCosta holds a strong hand with CANTARE (Dane Nelson) and MY FRIEND LUCY (Dick Cardenas) in the eighth race over 1200 metres for four-year-olds and up.
The field of eight is pretty strong with other good horses such as LASHING FORCE, DIFERENTGENERATION and JAYLEN present.
But indications are that it will come down to the DaCosta pair, both of whom are ideally suited to the distance. The consistent colt, CANTARE, is preferred to the filly MY FRIEND LUCY on the strength of his close second to CLASSIC PRINCESS over 1300 metres on January 1.
DaCosta should also win the opening 1100-metre race with his unbeaten colt COMMANDER ONE, who turned heads on his recent debut with a fast-time runaway win over the distance. The American three-year-old colt continues to burn up the track at exercise and could better his eye-popping time of 1:04.4 over the same distance on his January 12 debut. Nelson has the ride.
Other firm fancies on the card are the lightly raced 4-y-o filly SPARKLE HAVEN (working well) in the second race, PISCEAN ROCKET in the third, FOREVER MINE to repeat in the sixth and the grey MUMBAI MAESTRO to lead home ELOPING EMMA and DIVINITY in the closing Track Price Plus Dig-Out Handicap over 1400 metres.