Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The classy American 4-y-o colt BLAST THEM AWAY returned from an eight-month absence to win the Ash Wednesday Trophy overnight allowance feature over 1300 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday, but it was no walk in park.
One of three winners for champion jockey Dane Nelson on the holiday card, BLAST THEM AWAY was forced to do it the hard way as the 1-4 favourite in a field of seven.
Not the sharpest away from the number-one post position, BLAST THEM AWAY coupled up quickly on the inside to lead from stable companion SIR VON (5-2) with former champion Dick Cardenas aboard.
SIR VON, in fact, eventually drew level approaching the distance and, for a stride or two early in the last furlong appeared to have pointed. Nelson, however, was in no mood to surrender the advantage, as BLAST THEM AWAY responded to some torrid left-hand whipping over the last 100 metres, thwarting the challenge of SIR VON to win by half a length.
Nelson said he had to work hard for the victory, but BLAST THEM AWAY could have needed the race after a lengthy absence.
"He was the class horse of the field and having won six previous races with him, I knew he was a fighter," said the 28-year-old jockey.
"So when SIR VON drew alongside and put a nose in front a furlong out, I knew my horse would fight to the death. He responded really well to the left-hand stick to win all out, but an ugly win is better than a pretty loss," he added.
Champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, who swept the first three places with JET SETTER (5-1) having placed third, disclosed that BLAST THEM AWAY had a joint problem (fetlock) last summer and had to be pin-fired, hence the long absence.
Having failed to ride a winner last Saturday, Nelson rebounded with three winners on the 10-race programme - the same as leading jockey Omar Walker, who led the standings with 17 wins.
In addition to BLAST THEM AWAY, Nelson won aboard the unbeaten American colt COMMANDER ONE for DaCosta in the first race, and 6-5 favourite JUSTIN IN FLIGHT for trainer Morris Powell in the fourth to move to 14 wins.
Nelson should have started a 10-day suspension on Saturday, but having appealed the ban, will continue riding until the appeal is heard on Thursday, February 28, according to the JRC stewards.