Champion American owner Ken Ramsey is looking for a third win in Saturday’s 36th running of the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
After winning in 2014 with Major Marvel and 2015 with Sayler’s Creek and placing second last year with Watch Your Own Bobber, Ramsey is back again this year with two charges KeystoneforVictory and High Noon Rider.
There was disappointment for some race fans after Ramsey had nominated Sir Dudley Diggs at the first and second nominations stages of the race, but he was not among Ramsey’s pair to fly to Barbados on Tuesday. Sir Dudley Diggs who had won the million dollar Queens Plate in Canada, was set to create history on Saturday as being the first horse to win a million dollar race to compete in Barbados.
As the saying goes every disappointment has a blessing, and 2015 Canadian winning jockey Rafael Hernandez will partner Ramsey’s entry High Noon Rider which will be a treat for the thousands of race fans who will be gracing the Garrison Savannah on Saturday.
Puerto Rican-born Hernandez had beaten Canadian champion jockey and Barbadian-born Patrick Husbands into second place when he won the 2015 Queens Plate on Shaman Ghost at Woodbine race track in Canada. Husbands will ride Ramsey’s other charge Keystoneforvictory. Husbands has four victories in this prestigious race tying him with retired jockeys Venice Richards and Jono Jones. Husbands will not only be looking to get revenge on his stable partner Hernandez, but he will be looking for a fifth win and becoming the all-time winning jockey in the Sandy Lane Gold Cup. Both Keystoneforvictory and High Noon Rider will be trained by north American champion trainer Mike Maker who trained both Major Marvel and Sayler’s Creek when they won the Gold Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago have two entrants this year in Conquest Bespoke and Trini Navigator. Conquest Bespoke, a winner at Woodbine on the turf surface before being imported to Trinidad, placed second in the Trinidad Gold Cup on Boxing Day on the dirt surface. However he had won on December 16 which was only his second start since being imported to the Caribbean. Conquest Bespoke is owned by Shaviam Maharaj and trained by Harriram Gobin, his jockey will be 2015 Trinidad champion Prayven Badrie.
Trini Navigator, the double entry for Trinidad is owned by Baskaran Bassawh and trained by John O’Brian and will be ridden by Barbadian jockey Reshawn Latchman. Trini Navigator won impressively on February 11 on turf at the Santa Rosa race course in Arima by two and a quarter lengths going 1600 meters, which was his prep race for the Sandy Lane Gold Cup. Trini Navigator had placed second in the 2014 Gold Cup with Nominee and has not won the major race in the south Caribbean since 1988.
Bajan hopes for keeping the Cup at home rest on the seven-year-old mare Nekitta, as the locally bred animal had won the last two major events for the top class animals, being the Diamonds Crown Of Light Boxing Day Stakes and the Coolmore Home Of Champion Stakes on Errol Barrow Day. Nekitta has won twice in her last three starts and will take 117 pounds the lightest weight in the field, as creole mares have a special Gold Cup weight for age compared to the imported animals and this could be a great danger. Nekitta will be going after history in becoming the first Barbados bred mare to win the Sandy Lane Gold Cup as only Incitatus, Federico and Zoom are Barbados bred males who have won the prestigious race in the past.
Last year’s champion Dorsett has not won since he won the Gold Cup last year but had ran an excellent second to Nekitta on January 21 in the Coolmore Home Of Champions. Last year’s winning jockey Jalon Samuel will be aboard once again and is going after a third win. Dorsett’s trainer Robert Peirce will be going after a fourth Gold Cup win which would put him second to the great trainer Bill Marshall who has seven successes.
Just A Fashion who had placed second to Nekitta on Boxing Day 2016, in the Diamonds Crown Of Light Boxing Day Stakes, will be making his first start for 2017. The big chestnut son of Old Fashion will be looking to add the Gold Cup to his many successes. He has only the Gold Cup to win to have a clean sweep of every major race in Barbados.
The rest of the Gold Cup field is made up of Inwon, Indiano Jones, Daunting David, Infrared and Knight Rider. Post time for the big race is 5 p.m.
The other two supported feature races are the Spa Sprint and Tanglewood and both have top class entries. The Spa Sprint, the major sprint event for the top class animals will be going 1100 meters and looks like an Olympics 100m entry. Wild Cat Tea who won his last start on February 4 looks like the early favourite, however he will have Lucky Adventure and Just My Girl to contend with in the field of 10. The Spa Sprint is at 1:35 p.m.
The Tanglewood Stakes will be the third main event on the big 12-race card and is race 7 at 2:45 p.m. Defending champion of 2016 Sirius Black will have his stablemate 2016 Derby champion Northern Star to contend with. Other top class horses in the line-up are Nine point six nine, Trinidad entry Magic Victory and the improving Stolen who won her last two starts.
Post time for Saturday is 11:30 p.m.