EDMONTON, Alberta – Champion-in-waiting Rico Walcott rode a double yesterday to lead a Caribbean domination of the eight-race mid-week card at Northlands Park.
The Barbadian, who will secure his sixth straight title at the western Canada racing oval when the season wraps up October 22, captured race four over 6 and ½ furlongs with favourite Hold the Giant before following up with victory in race seven over six furlongs with 3-1 bet Including Gold.
There were also victories on the day for multiple-time former champion, Barbadian Quincy Welch as well as for the Jamaican pair of Dane Nelson and rookie Shamaree Muir.
Walcott sits atop the jockeys’ standings on 91 wins and holds a commanding lead over the second-placed Nelson who has 52. Trinidadian Keishan Balgobin lies third on 49, Welch is fourth with 46 while Muir, in his first international season, is fifth on 36.
The 27-year-old Walcott opened his account by piloting chestnut gelding Hold the Giant to a dominant five-length victory over the three-year-olds, in a convincing gate-to-wire effort.
They posted splits of 23.58 for the quarter and 47.64 for the half to open up a handy lead and were never under any threat in the stretch run.
In race seven, Walcott brought eight-year-old chestnut gelding Including Gold from the off the pace to edge the three-year-old and upward – winless this year – by three-quarter lengths.
Pakal, Kissin Dancer and Mia’s Miracle all battled for the lead through the half before Walcott deftly guided Including Gold through the traffic ahead to get the best of the run through the lane.
Meanwhile, Muir took race three over six furlongs with 4-1 chance Six Forty Nine, beating the three-year-old and upward maidens by 1¼ lengths while Nelson guided 5-1 bet Sarah’s Charm to victory in race five over a mile, getting past the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares by 5¾ lengths.
Welch, who started the season strongly but has seen his challenge fade gradually, won race six over a mile with favourite Spensive’s Image, trouncing the three-year-old and upward by two lengths.