Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The first leg of the two-day racing carnival gets underway today at Caymanas Park, the 10-race programme featuring the seventh running of the Seek Exercise Book Back-to-School Trophy over 1300 metres for open allowance horses.
The carnival continues tomorrow with the first Sunday meet in almost two years.
It will see the participation of the Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) off-track betting parlours islandwide on local racing for the first time on a Sunday.
Sponsored by Book Empire Limited, the Seek Exercise Book Trophy offers a total purse of $1 million and with most of the 10 starters showing good form, it promises to be a humdinger.
Included in the line-up is last year's winner, REASONABLE PRESS, one of three starters from the stables of 'Hall of Fame' trainer Philip Feanny.
The 14-time champion also saddles the improving PRINCE ANDREW and the progressive American colt EL PODEROSO, who by virtue of his fast-time runaway win over this trip under topweight last Saturday in overnight company should start favourite.
Leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths, who has won aboard all three horses this season, has elected to ride EL PODEROSO, and rightly so.
The 4-y-o son of Even The Score made all impressively a week ago to win in the smart time of 1:17.3 and although up in class to vie for this trophy, this will not deter him.
When last raced at the open allowance level on July 24, EL PODEROSO finished a close third to CLASSY PROSPECT and REASONABLE PRESS over 1400 metres, while on June 22 he finished a length second to BLAST THEM AWAY in the grade one Eros Trophy over 1400 metres.
HARD TO BEAT
If able to reproduce his Eros Trophy performance, a fit EL PODEROSO would be a hard horse to beat today, even with 55.0kg.
Still, the nature of the competition is such that he can ill-afford to skip a beat, what with the likes of the recent fast-time winner UPPA TUNE, RIO COBRE, REASONABLE PRESS, THE GUV, TRADITIONAL PRINCE and the consistent PALACE GOLD present.
Finding the exacta horse won't be easy, but the Wayne DaCosta-trained American 5-y-o gelding, RIO COBRE (Dick Cardenas up), has been pretty consistent and along with the Ian Parsard-trained UPPA TUNE (Omar Walker up) should fight it out for second.
I also like the speedy ANNIE OAKLEY to win the first race, hat-trick seeker CLASSIC BEAU in the second, THE LINCOLN LAWYER in the fourth, I'VE BEEN CHOSEN in the fifth and MAMA BLOSSOM in the nightpan.