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Labour of love

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Justify became the greatest USbased racehorse in our era when completing an undefeated Triple Crown run on Saturday.

This means that the decade of the 2010s has given us Frankel, the best horse in many generations in Europe (except of course for perhaps…yes Dancing Brave of 1986), American Pharoah, Arrogate and now Justify in the United States.

One of the amazing factors around great horses is their appeal to fans of all persuasions.

The sheer joy witnessed at Belmont Park when Justify crossed the finish line in front, solely stirred the emotions of everyone who witnessed the race through any medium, dare I say among those who know little or nothing of horseracing, including four such gentlemen (Brian, Chad, Bruce and Mario) talking World Cup football on Isports.

In the press conference following the race, one journalist asked connections why the public should care that Justify had won the Triple Crown. In fact, it was one question, one step in this fantastic journey, that his great trainer Bob Baffert seemed almost at a loss to answer.

The appeal of an undefeated Triple Crown champion has nothing to do with how handsome the animal may be, it is really about the lure of success, the personification of overcoming obstacles, people’s pursuit of the unachievable.

In the UK, the Triple Crown bid of Saxon Warrior came to an inglorious end when the highclass colt could not overcome the vagaries of the Epsom Downs when only fourth in their Derby on June 1. In Trinidad, on June 19 we will find out if the Triple Crown dreams of our own top colt, the Jerry Narace owned General JN remains alive when he tackles his rivals in the second leg of our Triple Crown, the Midsummer Classic.

The colt has really only two conceivable challengers in the locally bred fillies Streaking Far and Princess Sophia. He is stepping up in distance and seems more about speed than stamina, but his overwhelming class may be too much for his opponents.

With no credible new challengers appearing on the scene, T&T may just be fortunate enough to experience two brothers, the General, and his brother Momentum, as Triple Crown winners.

To show the vagaries of breeding, their brother, Pontius Pilate, is plummeting down the handicap ratings having been unable to win any prize money in six starts since coming to this country.

On Labour Day, in addition to the Midsummer Classic, turfites will see another running of the Santa Rosa Dash, in which the best horses in the country will compete. Bigman in Town returns to the track for his second start after his Barbados sojourn.

He is sure to be a much better horse on this occasion as he seeks another win in this event.

His competition is stiff though with the likes of two-time Stewards Cup winner Control Unit, who is much better over this distance than anything further; the consistent Whisper Light and Conquest Bespoke, the improving Princess Suri, the speedy Pauseforacoors and the locally bred Set Sail. This promises to be a much more exciting race than the Classic.

Races like the Triple Crown series in the US, the Grade and Group one races in the US and Europe, stimulate excitement in turfites like nothing else can.

While Trinidad does not have horses of that caliber, horses rated 50 and over in this country generate the most competitive races and we need more of those to bring out the crowds.

Many owners have held fire on investing in new horses until they have greater confidence in the future of the local industry. It could only be hoped that the future becomes a lot clearer before long. The sport is too important to too many, to let it just drift out of control.

As I have repeatedly stated, a collective effort is the only way forward but then for that to be successful everyone must be on the same page, as it stands now, that is not certain or even apparent.

Nevertheless, horseracing continues to persevere with many good intentions. By the way and Argentina versus France World Cup would be a great final with Argentina winning 2-1.


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