BY NIGEL REID
Fillies to the fore in Deighton Cup Day features
The delightful summer madness that is Deighton Cup Day at Hastings added
an exotic flavor to the sports as a bonanza crowd of revelers, basking in
glorious sunshine, attempted to find the winners of nine competitive races.
The afternoon was anchored by a brace of $20,000 allowance contests. The
first was a “never won two” over eight-and-a-half furlongs for three-year-
olds only. The second, an intriguing “never won three” over six-and-a-half
furlongs for three- and four-year-old fillies.
And, wouldn’t you know it, fillies took both legs. The open contest fell to the
sole filly in the race when the Glen Todd-trained Amazonian saw off a
collection of classy boys under Denny Velazquez to beat Stay Fantastic by
two-and-three quarter lengths. Her effort was made a little easier when
heavy favourite Dat Day fluffed his lines by fighting for his head during the
early part of the race.
Amazonian, a lovely-looking daughter of Malibu Moon that cost the North
American Thoroughbred Horse Company $50,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, continues to go from strength to strength. She was always travelling easily for Velazquez down on the rail and, once asked to take the office, she quickened into a decisive lead. The next step up will be harder
still, but she seems as though she is capable of a little more yet.
The “fillies only” allowance provided the huge crowd with the most thrilling
finish of the day, and very nearly also went the way of Todd and his red and
white chequerboard silks. Instead, it was the Dino Condilenios-trained Tiptoe
who, under Antonio Reyes, came late and wide around the home turn,
making up significant ground to catch Flight Data and Northern Graystar,
before inching up to Northern Graystar and prevailing by a head.
This was quite some training performance by Condilenios. Tiptoe was making
her first appearance of the season, and last ran back in September when
finishing runner-up in the prestigious British Columbia Oaks. The sweet-
looking daughter of Tiz Wonderful, who defeated a horse highly regarded by
Todd, capped a good weekend for the trainer and owners Swift
Thoroughbreds after they won a valuable juvenile event the previous
Antonio Reyes continues to ride in terrific form, and he was back in the
winner’s circle just 25 minutes later, after a slightly less stressful couple of
minutes aboard the Craig MacPherson-trained La Mer – the pair sauntering
home by more than eight lengths in a $4,000 claiming contest.
It was a case of doubles all round, too, for veteran Richard Hamel. The
double was completed when he landed the Deighton Cup (run as an $8,000
claiming contest) aboard the well-backed favourite, Pioneer of the West, for
trainer Steve Bryant and owners Big Fly Stables; the pair stalking their prey
down on the rail before launching a three-wide challenge at the turn and
holding off Sanawar by just under a length. The Florida-bred son of Pioneer
of the Nile was following up on his win earlier in the month, and that’s two
from three now for the seven-year-old since he arrived at Hastings from
Santa Anita in June.
The first half of Hamel’s daily double came aboard Panning For Gold, a
Hastings veteran who finally lost his maiden tag at the 23 rd time of asking!
The five-year-old has certainly been knocking on the door and was a runner-
up on his previous two runs. Hopefully, there will be a well-earned carrot in
the shape of a champagne bottle to go with the real stuff for trainer Charlene
Miler and owners Warren Wilson, Lesley Small, Kyle Miller and Donna Hesse.
Anyone who reads these reports regularly (you have my sympathy) knows
that I feel Julio Roque to be an underrated and underused rider. And he did
little to alter that opinion when he blasted two-year-old longshot Some Gold
out of the gate to land the three-and-a-half furlong maiden claimer by a half-
length in typically bustling, gate-to-wire, style. That’s three wins and a
handful of in-the-money finishes from just 26 rides for Roque, and he is well
on target to eclipse his total from last year’s debut season.
A son of Gottcha Gold, Some Gold was winning on his career debut for
trainer Milton Palma and owner Tamara Baker, and he beat some more
favored runners here. A special mention should also go to the outrider crew,
who very quickly foiled Torino Grand’s bid for escape prior to the start of the
race, preventing what could have been a nasty incident in the process.
Trainer John Snow has his barn in fine form at present, with only one of his
previous ten starters during the past week finishing outside the first four.
Assisted by wife Tammy, John legged up apprentice Lenny Seecharan to take
the penultimate race of a long afternoon with One Last Hit for owner James
Snow claimed the five-year-old son of Sierra Sunset out of an $8,000 claimer
back in June and this win at $16,000, after a third-place finish for a $12,500
tag, represents a feather in his cap.
Snow struck again at the claims box following the first race, when securing
the Canmor Farms-owned winner Next Otis for $4,000 in a two-way shake.
Ridden by current leading rider Amadeo Perez for trainer Mark Cloutier, Next
Otis was dropped in here from the $8,000 level.
The final event of the bumper nine-race card went the way of Mori Girl for in-
form handler Barb Heads, rider Alex Marti and owner/breeders Russell and
Lois Bennett. The $4,000 claiming contest win capped an exceptional
weekend for the Heads’ barn following the impressive win by two-year-old
debutante, Infinite Patience, on Friday evening.
The big crowd of well-dressed men and women, in splendid suits and hats,
helped push the on-track handle past the $260,000 mark. The gross handle,
meanwhile, perhaps helped by the cancellation of racing back east due to the
high temperatures there, bumped through the $920,000 mark.
FRIDAY NIGHT AT HASTINGS
Patience is her own reward in stunning debut
The first Friday evening race meeting of the 2019 Hastings season was blessed with balmy sunshine, a healthy crowd of Friday night revelers on Deighton Cup eve, and a couple of two-year-old performances of real promise.
William Decoursey’s homebred filly Infinite Patience was particularly impressive, justifying favoritism on her debut and strolling to an almost ten-length victory under the tutelage of Antonio Reyes.
Trained by Barb Heads, Infinite Patience (surely named as an acknowledgement to the single-most important attribute required to be a breeder of Thoroughbreds) looked like an experienced professional, instead of the clueless debutante she was entitled to be on her first career start.
The lovely bay didn’t break first, but her relaxed and athletic stride took her to the front almost immediately. From there on, the six-furlong race quickly became a good-paced schooling session, and possibly a dress rehearsal for even greater achievements to come.
Reyes, who is not one to grandstand even though certainly had the opportunity here, asked very little of his mount other than to keep her going forwards. The pair extended their lead decisively around the home bend and, under the minimum of urging, drew clear. There were several “wows” from the knowledgeable crowd down on the rails, and it very much looks as though Infinite Patience is a case of good things coming to those who wait.
Antonio Reyes may now be among the best-placed horsemen at Hastings to interpret the pecking order of two-year-olds, after he drove out Swift Thoroughbreds’ homebred gelding Wilson to land the boys’ leg of the two Maiden Special events.
The result, in a slower time than the fillies despite the frisky early fractions, was an altogether closer contest, although the winner was no less impressive in his own way.
Trained by Dino Condilenios, Wilson was making his third appearance and put the education to good use, taking on the Phil Hall-trained Gottcha Cowboy from the start and turning him back in the closing stages to win a sustained stretch duel by three-quarters-of-a-length. The pair put on an exciting battle all the way around the Hastings oval and, impressively, put almost seven lengths of daylight between themselves and the third-placed finisher, Finally Fantastic.
Wilson is by the BC sire Pop Artist, who is part owned by Condilenios and stands at Emerald Acres, and he continues to make an impact far larger than entitled to, given the limited numbers of mares he’s covered so far – that will surely change when the next breeding season comes around.
Indeed, Pop Artist wasn’t done for the evening. His four-year-old gelding R W Stanley closed thrillingly down the stretch to collar Slew’s Da Boss at the line by a nose for trainer Brian O’Connell and owners Nite and Day Stable and Joanne Todd.
Earlier in the evening, Pop Artist’s son Molesley had to settle for second place behind George Gilbert’s three-year-old, Ring of Kerry, in the $20,000 “never won two” allowance contest over six-and-a-half furlongs.
Trained by leading Hastings handler Phil Hall, the Kentucky-bred son of Flatter finished a long way behind the top-class Explode in last month’s Chris Loseth Stakes. However, he could not have been more impressive on Friday, dictating the pace under Amadeo Perez and drawing away to win by more than seven lengths.
Ring of Kerry was the second Hall-trained winner of the evening following Demerara’s gate-to-wire victory in the opener (a $16,000 claimer) under Enrique Gonzalez. Like Ring of Kerry, Gilbert also owns Demerara, although this time in partnership with Exclusive Stable.
Hall wasn’t done, either, and he legged-up Gonzalez again to land the fifth race of the evening, an $8,000 claiming contest over six-and-a-half furlongs, aboard G M T Baby, a three-year-old daughter of the late BC stallion, Shrug.
The nightcap, a $4,000 claimer, fell to the Harold Barroby-owned and trained nine-year-old gelding, Payton’s Best, under the stewardship of young rider, Learie Seecharan. The apprentice was standing in for sidelined Jeff Burningham, who remains in good spirits in hospital following his serious fall the previous weekend. Burningham will have been as delighted for Seecharan as anyone, because that’s the kind of selfless person he is and he has the best wishes of everyone on the Hastings’ backstretch for a speedy recovery.