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Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The inaugural running of the Seymour 'Foggy' Mullings Memorial Trophy overnight allowance over 1500 metres is the feature event on today's pre-Christmas 10-race programme at Caymanas Park. This is one of three trophy races on the card.
The race is being run in honour of former deputy prime minister of Jamaica, Seymour Mullings, who, in his capacity as minister of finance with responsibility for the racing industry from 1989 to the mid-'90s, presided over an unprecedented period of growth in the racing industry. Mullings died on October 9 this year at age 82.
Eight starters have been declared for the race, which is being sponsored by Mr Woody's, with a purse of $715,000. The field includes the hot ante-post favourite, RED FLAG, trained by Owen Sharpe for the father and son team which also includes his son, Solomon.
With this overnight allowance feature weaker than usual, RED FLAG now has a grand chance of scoring an overdue victory.
The sparingly raced 5-y-o gelding by Pat N Call out of Yankee's Princess has stepped with much better horses prior to this race, finishing second to DOUBLE THE HONEY over 1200 metres as recently as November 17.
Although managing only sixth in his subsequent race over a mile on November 27, RED FLAG was not really disgraced in running. He engaged then favourite TRADITIONAL PRINCE in a sizzling speed duel in the backstretch and only faded from third to sixth in the last furlong in what was a fast-run race won by ARGUMENT DONE.
Having worked well since (galloping six furlongs in 1:14.4) and with the distance just perfect, RED FLAG, whose last two wins were in open allowance company last year, will not be easily denied from the convenient mark of 52.0 kg.
He should win from NUH VEX, who was not beaten far (fifth) by ARGUMENT DONE in that one-mile race on November 27, finishing inches ahead of a used-up RED FLAG.
The other trophy races on the card are the annual renewal of the Paul Newman Memorial Trophy over 1600 metres (claiming $450,000-$400,000) and the Joseph Armond Memorial Trophy over 1820 metres.
ETTU ORACLE should make amends for her near miss over the distance recently by winning the Joseph Armond Memorial Cup, while it should be the recently disqualified winner MERU over PRIESTKING in the Paul Newman Memorial.
I also like down-in-class JOVOUN THE MASTER in the second race, BORDER LINE in the third, BATIDOR DE MUNDO in the seventh, and JESSE JAMES in the eighth.