EDMONTON, Canada – Antonio Whitehall logged a double at Century Mile on Sunday, as he continued to keep tabs on the early leaders.
The Barbadian won the CAN$19 000 race seven with favourite All Under Control before following up with victory aboard 13-1 outsider Tap Master in the $17 000 race eight.
Whitehall, 27, lies third in the standings with seven wins from 22 rides, two adrift of leader Rafael Zenteno and Jamaican Andre Martin both on nine.
He had narrowly missed out in race three when he finished three-quarters of a length back in second with favourite Southern Warlord before again finishing second in race five, this time 2-½ lengths behind the winner with another favourite Major Shepard.
His third second place finish on the nine-race card – in race six with 11-1 bet Frost Canyon – appeared to be the catalyst and he reached the winners’ enclosure in the next race when he guided seven-year-old bay gelding All Under Control to a narrow victory over the three-year-olds and upward.
Going six furlongs, Whitehall settled All Under Control at the back of the field, leaving Solo Ring and Triple Power to dispute the lead through the early fractions.
However, Whitehall brought the gelding four-wide through the turn to get up late by a head and edge Triple Power.
Whitehall’s second win also came over six furlongs, partnering with six-year-old bay horse Tap Master to get the better of the three-year-olds and upward by three-quarters of a length.
The pair were forced to duel with Zicatela, with reigning champion Rico Walcott aboard, and though never really gaining a significant advantage, edged ahead and held well in the stretch.
Barbadian Walcott, fourth in the standings on six wins, snagged his lone victory in the day’s opener over six furlongs when he made all the running with favourite Wedge Pond to crush the three-year-olds by 7-½ lengths.
Another Barbadian Desean Bynoe, who notched his maiden career win last week, won his second race of the season in race two over six furlongs with favourite Coasting Ghost.
Meanwhile in Elmont, New York, on Saturday, Barbadian trainer Saffie Joseph Jr added yet another jewel to his quickly growing collection when his 7-1 chance Drain the Clock upset the field to win the US$400 000 Grade I Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park.
The 34-year-old, who only a week ago notched added-money successes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Gulfstream Park in Florida, partnered with the Slam Dunk Racing-owned chestnut colt to beat the three-year-olds by a neck in a time of one minute, 22:27 seconds, going seven furlongs.
Drain the Clock, with the experienced Jose Ortiz aboard, looked beaten a furlong out with favourite Jackie’s Warrior getting the better of a heated duel, but produced a late surge to snatch a narrow victory at the wire.
“We talked it over so much with [co-owner] Nick Cosato [of Slam Dunk Racing] and he wanted to break well and use him for the lead,” Joseph said afterwards.
“We just left it up to Jose. We told him the break was important and to make (Joel) Rosario [aboard Jackie’s Warrior] make a decision. If they’re going to let you lead, lead.”
He continued: “Obviously, Jackie’s Warrior missed the break and after that he ran up on the inside and we were in a good spot. If we were good enough then we were going to win.
“At the quarter pole, I thought we were going to be second. It looked like he was backing up a little bit. He dug in after that, and then Jackie’s Warrior wouldn’t give up. All credit to the horse.”
Drain the Clock broke smartly and set a searing pace through the early stages before Jackie’s Warrior stormed up the inside to lead at the quarter, run in 22.09 seconds.
A fierce duel ensued with Ortiz keeping Drain the Clock glued to the leader’s flank, and the pair had opened up a four-length lead on the field at the half-mile completed in 44.19.
In the stretch, Jackie’s Warrior continued to lead by half-length but Ortiz, who filled in at the last moment for his injured brother Irad Ortiz, got the best out of the colt in the dying yards.
Joseph also found success further southeast when he produced a double at his home base at Gulfstream Park, to increase his lead in the standings at the Hallandale Beach oval.
His 2-1 bet Raison the Glass captured the $21 000 race one over a mile and sixteenth, beating the three-year-old and upward maiden fillies and mares by half-length, before favourite Take Me As I Am trounced the three-year-old and upward maiden fillies and mares by 4-¼ lengths in the $23 000 race seven over 7-½ furlongs. (CMC)