Get two year olds running early

I’ve been hinting for a while now that I consider the export of our best yearlings to be a significant factor in the decline of Jamaica’s horse racing product over the past 20 odd years.

Last time we were together, in preferring Thornbird over current superstar She’s a Maneater, I wrote “No question to my mind THORNBIRD was the better of the two…because she ran in an era before buyers from Trinidad and Tobago were permitted to consistently export our best bloodstock without penalty thus….watering down the opposition faced by She’s A Maneater.

Previously, in Public Opinion, September 29, I suggested: “Government must…turn to the task of halting this insidious destruction of our Breeding industry by our Eastern Caribbean brothers and sisters….

Nobody can interfere with commerce and Trinidadians must be allowed to buy whatever foal or yearling they wish from Jamaican Breeders. …Instead of imposing counter-productive import duties and GCT on the importation of foreign bred horses, a significant export tax should be imposed on the removal of horses from Jamaica…acting as an incentive to Trinis to buy yearlings but leave them here to….participate in Jamaican races…

Caymanas Park rarely sees a 2yo race before May.  In 2017, the first 2yo race over as far as 1000 metres was run on August 12 with 12 entries. On August 5, an 800m straight 2yo race attracted 5 entries. The Promoter was unable to produce any 2yo races on August 16 or 19 and again on September 27.

As one who produces scientific track variants and speed figures at the end of each race day, I can assure readers that, except for races won by Patriarch, Another Vigorous and Commander Two, every 2yo race run in 2017 has produced a time slower than standard.  The crop is poor.

In USA, 2yo races are full from as early as April every year. By the time flat racing began on turf in England at the end of March, 2017, a race like the Brockelesby Conditions Stakes (Doncaster; 5 furlongs) attracted 22 2yos and had to be split into two divisions.  

The very fast American 2yo, Lady Aurelia, made history in 2016 when she became the first horse trained in U.S. to win a Cartier Racing Award. Based at Keeneland with trainer Wesley Ward, she won her career debut on April 21 and went on to capture two of Europe’s most prestigious Group 1 races: Queen Mary (Royal Ascot) and Prix Morny (Deauville). While she was chalking up international Group 1 successes for her owners, our 2yos were running 2 furlong races against skimpy opposition for pennies.

This requires a conversation among all stakeholders because a way must be found to accomplish the following:

    1. Keeping our best foals and yearlings at home;
    2. Ensuring breeders at least break their yearlings into wearing saddles and trotting before they enter yearling sales;

 

  • Trainers making an effort to get 2yos ready for racing as early as possible rather than earning easy fees by keeping them in stables getting fat at owners’ expense.

 

DEPARTMENTS:

 

  • Clocked-In

 

It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.

Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

Notebook horses from November 25, MONEY MAGNET and ORPHEUS, written up as “good enough to win Graded Stakes races ran one-two in a 1200 metres Open Allowance race on December 16 at 1/1 and 2/1 respectively. They combined to return a Quiniela of $210.00 and an Exacta of $303.00. Not bad for Graded Stakes horses running in Open Allowance company!

In that same race, none of my readers were fooled by Siempre Bueno  who had won the race out of which both MONEY MAGNET and ORPHEUS were plucked because they took my advice that he “confirmed he’ll always be best over 1000m (straight)”.

Also, patient punters who read my caution about KANALOA (Public Opinion; November 10): “…readers must always remember form accomplished on a sloppy track usually doesn’t transfer to a fast one and vice versa. So, for example, the outstanding effort by Kanaloa on October 21 which made “clocked-in” two weeks ago wasn’t confirmed on a dry track on November 4” and noted the rain that sprinkled before the 8th race on December 9 ensuring just enough juice in the track for KANALOA to oblige at 21/1 should have a very Merry Christmas indeed, Yum, yum!  

Regrettably, no notebook horses came out of the last two race days but the Track Variants are offered for your records anyway:

December 9, 2017: Due to a flood before the last race, the round course produced two Track Variants. The Track Variant for the last race, run on a sloppy track (won by Dontae) was -0.875 per 200m (furlong) but earlier races were run on a track with a variant of -0.3 per 200m (Rd). On the straight course the variants were -3 (Run Johnny Run) and -1 (Kanaloa).

December 16, 2017: TV was -0.4 per 200m (Round) and -5 (straight). The day’s fastest race was the one won by MONEY MAGNET whose credentials are already in readers’ notebooks.  

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS, tipped up last time for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Cheltenham, December 16) was withdrawn before final entries so readers didn’t get a bet.  However, some great racing is in store over Christmas so let’s get stuck in.

Long Walk Hurdle (Dec 23; Ascot; 3m; 1425GMT; 9.25am Jamaica Time)

Now that old rival Nichols Canyon was withdrawn on Monday, there seems little to prevent a repeat performance from last year’s 4 ½ lengths winner UNOWHATIMEANHARRY whose main danger is again Lil Rockefeller.

Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Dec 23; Ascot; 3m; 1500GMT)

Nicky Henderson has a stranglehold on this race with three strong entries but I expect Beware the Bear to go to Chepstow on December 27 (see later) while Gold Present doesn’t seem to relish true winter ground so this could go to O O SEVEN who has the class to carry a big weight in handicaps (4th in the Topham last spring over the National fences on only his fifth chase start) and relishes soft ground.

King George VI Chase (Dec 26; Kempton; 3m; 1505GMT)

Nicky Henderson’s Might Byte is all the rage but this is a big step up in class for him so, if last year’s easy winner THISTLECRACK, off the track before December 1 since picking up a tendon injury in January, 2017; raced enthusiastically to two out on return (hurdles); and not given a hard time when held, comes to Kempton anywhere near 100% he’ll be hard to beat.

Coral Welsh Grand National Chase (Dec 27; Chepstow; 3m5 1/2f; 1450GMT)

I’m very impressed with BEWARE THE BEAR who improved again for soft ground on his seasonal return (Dec 2, Rehearsal H/cap Chase; Newcastle; 2m7 1/2f) but it was hard work for much of the way. He looked hopelessly out of it and struggling to make any impression, with his jumping not always fluent and jockey’s saddle slipped back. But his stamina gradually kicked in and he actually ended up winning with his ears pricked and looking full of running. It appears the further the better for him and he’s unexposed over fences. He’s a confident selection.

Finally, a notebook horse for National Hunt English Racing fans who should have cashed in on November 8’s notebook horse, Oxwich Bay, whose next run produced a  win at Ffos Las on December 18 at 5/6:

LONGTOWN [6 b.g Scorpion – Desirable Asset (Zagreb)] Looks all over a staying chaser, so don’t worry about his unspectacular start over fences. This only means a better price next time. He was thrown into a fairly deep novice handicap on his chasing debut at Exeter (November) but built on that when finishing mid-field at Chepstow last Saturday. Wearing a first-time tongue strap, he shaped better than the bare result, going with enthusiasm early and still travelling well in second when a bad mistake four out ended his chances. Richard Johnson, didn’t knock him about after that and this big, scopey six-year-old is likely to be much better for the experience next time. He can run up a sequence once getting going and is very much one to follow.

Merry Christmas and Good Luck to all!  

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