Crucial Appeal posts fast-time win
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Yesterday's final Sunday meet of the season at Caymanas Park was highlighted by a fast-time victory by the progressive four-year-old gelding, CRUCIAL APPEAL, in the open allowance race over 1100 metres.
Running as the even-money favourite following competitive efforts in the recent Gold Cup and Caribbean Sprint, CRUCIAL APPEAL chased and circled the leaders, RIO COBRE, STEP IT UP and FORTUNEONEHUDERED, leaving the 600-metre marker and forged clear of highly fancied STEP IT UP (2-1), bidding for his seventh consecutive win, early in the straight. But he had to be pushed out by jockey Paul 'Country' Francis in the last 100 metres to stave off the fast-finishing BORDER LINE (7-2) under champion jockey Dane Nelson by three-quarter length.
CRUCIAL APPEAL, who was notching his sixth win from 17 starts this season, covered the distance in the smart time of 1:04.3 behind cracking splits of 22.2 and 45.0 for the first half mile.
By Crucial Time out of Late Appeal, CRUCIAL APPEAL is owned by champion owner contender Howard Hamilton, trained by Patrick 'Wacky' Lynch and bred by Edison Chair.
Hamilton had a second winner on the card when the three-year-old debutant, FREE AS A BIRD, the 8-5 favourite from the Dwight Chen stables, led home the grey colt GRAND TIME (7-2) by 21/2 lengths in the round-five maiden race.
With four race days remaining in 2014, Hamilton has moved closer to the leaders Elite Bloodstock Limited and defending champion Carlton Watson in the owners' championship and can now be considered a threat to the top two, with over $13.6 million in stakes.
Meanwhile, 2-1 chance HERECOMESTHEBREEZE justified 3-2 favouritism with an easy victory in the Joseph Armond Memorial Trophy over 1820 metres. Jockey Larris Allen rode a peach of a race to win by 61/2 lengths from the front running favourite NATASHADONTPLAY in a field of eight.
"I decided to sit just off the early pace before making my move leaving the half mile," said Allen, who rode successfully in Canada during the summer.
"I asked my horse to circle the leaders at the final bend, blowing past Natashadontplay to beat her by a wide margin. This horse enjoys two-turn races, and trainer Fitzroy Glispie had her in good nick for this race," said Allen, who was quick to add that he will be returning to ride in Canada when the season begins in the spring.
On a day when returning champion jockey Dane Nelson failed to ride a winner following a three-timer on Saturday, Richard Mairs and Shane Ellis rode two winners each, while trainer Gary Subratie saddled two in firm favourites DESTINY'S CHOICE and SUNLIGHT EXPRESS, both post-to-post winners.