Guineas to get Exotic touch
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The 2012 classic racing season kicks off at Caymanas Park today with the 38th running of the Jamaica 1000 Guineas for native bred three-year-old fillies over 1600 metres.
On Easter Monday it will be the turn of the 3-y-o colts and geldings in the 2000 Guineas. Both races offer purses of $3.6 million.
PHILISTIA, the winter book favourite for the 1000 Guineas by virtue of her close second to ALL CORRECT over the distance last Boxing Day, comes to the wicket without the benefit of a prep race, but according to veteran trainer Noel Ennevor, this will not put her at a disadvantage.
"We decided not to run her in the Thornbird Stakes for the simple reason she would be allowing weight all around to some good fillies who would meet her on level terms
"Despite having her first race of the season, she has pleased me in her preparation and is fit and raring to go," he added.
"Based on her close second to the top colt ALL CORRECT in the Supreme Ventures 2-Y-O Stakes on Boxing Day, there's no denying that she has class and this could make all the difference on Saturday," concluded the trainer.
In addition to PHILISTIA, the other top contenders are EXOTIC GOLD, a recent fast-time winner of the Thornbird Stakes over 1400 metres, to again be ridden by leading jockey Dane Nelson for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta; Thornbird Stakes runner-up TRINITHETUTOR, with four-time champion Omar Walker again riding for trainer Gary Subratie, who saddled last year's winner NIPHAL; CLASSIC PRINCESS, to be ridden by Doushane Gordon for the young trainer Nicholas Edwards; the improving SPARKLE HAVEN, to be partnered by former champion jockey Shane Ellis for trainer Patrick Chang; and the unbeaten STAR FLYER with champion jockey Dick Cardenas riding for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes.
All have worked well coming into the race, especially the trio of TRINITHETUTOR (taken to task), who galloped six furlongs in 1:13.0, SPARKLE HAVEN, who galloped seven furlongs in a brisk 1:27.3 and 5 1/2 furlongs in an eye-popping 1:06.3, not to mention STAR FLYER, who galloped six furlongs in 1:13.2, beating stable-companion TREND SETTER quite easily in that work.
CLASSIC PRINCESS also caught the eye in a 1:28.3 spin for seven furlongs, while EXOTIC GOLD looked well in a 1:14.1 six-furlong gallop.
CLASSIC PRINCESS was highly fancied to win the Thornbird Stakes, but injured herself in the early stages and finished eight lengths at fourth.
"She overreached on the inside in the early stages of the Thornbird Stakes and injured her bulb (a bone on the lower part of her front leg) ... . She has overcome the injury, is working well again and should be right there at the finish."
Trainers Subratie (TRINITHETUTOR) and DaCosta (EXOTIC GOLD) have both expressed confidence going into the race as well.
Based on her vastly-improved performance in the Thornbird Stakes in which she turned the tables on TRINITHETUTOR, who had beaten her three weeks earlier over 1200 metres, the stretch-running EXOTIC GOLD catches my fancy.
She won the Thornbird in a fast time (1:25.3) for 1400 metres and having secured another favourable high number draw, should catch TRINITHETUTOR, CLASSIC PRINCESS and PHILISTIA where it matters.
Other firm fancies on the well-supported card are ETHOS (second race), SMOKIN MAN (third), MARINE DRIVE (seventh), MERU (eighth) and the unbeaten American colt BLAST THEM AWAY (ninth) to make it six straight.