WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Antonio Whitehall went winless in seven rides and failed to add to his 74 wins but it mattered little as the Barbadian was formally crowned jockey champion at Assiniboia Down for the second time in three years last night.
The runaway leader for the most of the three-and-a-half month season, Whitehall had assumed an unassailable lead early last month and his coronation, without the fanfare of a victory on the evening’s eight-race card, was anticlimactic.
He also finished with 54 wins and 58 third place finishes, earning nearly CAN$526 000 – over $100 000 more than his closest rival.
Whitehall finished second with 47 wins last year and had won the 2018 title with 41 victories.
Trinidadian Stanley Chadee Jr finished the season second on 48 wins and $401 614 in earnings after winning the night’s feature, the $30 000 Buffalo Stakes with favourite Melisandre, as part of a double, while Mexican Rafael Zenteno was third on 46 wins.
Another Trinidadian Richard Mangalee was fifth with 27 wins and $229 572 while Jamaican Neville Stephenson finished fifth with 25 wins $215 488.
The card, however, belonged to Chadee and Barbadian Nirone Austin who rode a triple to finish the season with a flourish, despite ending down the standings on 19 wins and earnings of $144 431.
Chadee raised the curtain on the evening when he paired with the chestnut filly Melisandre to brush aside the two-year-olds by 1-¾ lengths in the feature in a time of one minute, 44 seconds.
Breaking from the outside in the six-horse field travelling a mile, Chadee made every inch of the running with Melisandre, holding off Prairie Magic, ridden by Zenteno, in the late stretch.
Chadee’s second victory came in a 5-½ furlong sprint in race seven when he brought five-year-old chestnut mare Vallentay late to beat the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares by 2-½ lengths.
Not to be left out, Austin recovered from failing to place in his previous two rides to win race five over 7-½ furlongs, carrying six-year-old bay mare Simply Fablus to a narrow gate-to-wire victory over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares.
He then returned in race six to eke out another narrow win with 19-1 longshot King’s Revenge in a 5-½ furlong sprint for the three-year-olds and upward before pairing with favourite Kats Second Silver to win race eight by 1-¼ lengths over six furlongs, also for the three-year-olds and upward.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Sunny Singh extended his rich vein of form with a triple while leading Barbadian rider Juan Crawford logged a double, as they dominated yesterday’s nine-race card at Fort Erie.
Singh won race two with outsider It’snicetobenice, followed up with victory in race seven aboard 10-3 choice Gold Venture before also taking race eight with favourite Twirling Wind.
Crawford, meanwhile, enjoyed back-to-back wins on the day’s card, winning race five with favourite Who’s Got It and race six with another favourite Successful Saint.
Barbadian Crawford tops the standings with 37 wins with a month left in the season, eight clear of Jamaican Kirk Johnson with Singh some way down the charts on just 13 wins.
His lowly place in the standings was in no way indicative of his form on Tuesday as he once again outshone his Caribbean rivals in the jockey colony.
In his first outing on the programme, Singh combined with five-year-old mare It’snicetobenice to edge Rebel Lioness, ridden by Barbadian Christopher Husbands, and get the better of the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares over seven furlongs.
Orphan Queen, with Johnson aboard, posted the early fractions with Written stalking from second but Singh brought It’snicetobenice with a strong late run to collar the leaders in the final yards.
Singh was then forced to wait until late on the card before he could reach the winner’s circle again, this time powering the three-year-old chestnut gelding Gold Venture to a 9-¾ length thrashing of the three-year-olds and upward in a 6-½ furlong trip.
Sunka Wakan, ridden by Johnson, dominated the early going but once Singh put Gold Venture to the front at the top of the stretch, the race was over as a serious contest.
And he then capped off a successful day by making all the running with the bay filly Twirling Wind to beat the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares by 1-¾ lengths in a five furlong sprint.
For his part, Crawford reach the winner’s enclosure first with Who’s Got it, steering the seven-year-old gelding to a half-length win over the three-year-olds and upward going 6-½ furlongs.
His second win was also a narrow score by a neck, getting the four-year-old bay gelding Successful Saint up late to edge the three-year-olds and upward, going a mile and 70 yards.