Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The grey SMOKIN MAN, ridden by the tiny apprentice Prince 'Daggerman' Holder, capitalised on the late withdrawal of the unbeaten American filly, HUPOMONE, to win the overnight allowance feature for the George HoSang Trophy over the straight at Caymanas Park yesterday.
The race turned into a fiasco after three of the seven declared runners were late non-starters.
In addition to the Wayne DaCosta-trained HUPOMONE, who bolted, her stable companion DOUBLE THE HONEY was declared lame and did not take the track. And the winner's stable companion, PRINCE THEO, was scratched by the vet at the gate, leaving Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) to count their losses on this particular race.
SMOKIN MAN on top
With HUPOMONE out of the way, the Raymond Townsend-trained SMOKIN MAN was installed the new favourite at 1-2 and made most to beat highly fancied CANTARE by half a length.
SMOKIN MAN, who had previously won over the straight on October 3 last year with Holder aboard, has now won six races from 20 career starts for owner/trainer Townsend and the breeder, Lorenzo Robinson.
Townsend said SMOKIN MAN was expected to prove competitive against the hot favourite, but when HUPOMONE bolted from the gates without the rider prior to the start he knew it was an unexpected gift.
"Smokin Man not only loves the straight, but was in very good condition for the race and he seized the opportunity to make all the running," he said.
"Sometimes in racing you have to expect the unexpected and be ready when the opportunity presents itself," he added.
Later in the afternoon, the unbeaten 3-y-o colt, ROCK UNION (6-5 favourite), came through leaving the home turn to beat ROYAL VIBES and long-time leader CRUCIAL APPEAL by 31/2 lengths over 1300 metres, to enter the classic picture in a big way. He was ridden by Shane Ellis for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes.