Open Secret most tempting
Show Me The Money will command the most attention in the feature Sandford Prince Handicap over 1 570 metres, but punters could have a testing time on their hands trying to solve the puzzle before them in Race 8, the Vardar Handicap, over 1 800 metres today at the Garrison Savannah.
On a day that the Barbados Turf Club remembers former Gold Cup champions, this event for four-year-old and older horses rated 62-80 and also open to horses rated 61 and below has many variables to consider. For the Andrew Nunes-trained trio of Bandera Belle, Open Secret and Roars, this race will be their final preparation run for the 2 000-metre Tanglewood Stakes come March 8.
For Rickoshey and Island Memories, it offers another opportunity for them to improve on their last efforts after their poor third season form last year. Grace Chapel pulled off a surprise win at the shorter 1 570 metres trip, but her last four attempts at today’s trip were below average.
Desert Man, Zaltarr and Something Happenin, in their last races were beaten 185 ½ lengths combined, thus using the word “form” loosely in combination with their names in public is high risk.
By process of elimination, the race should come down to a two-horse battle between Open Secret and Stratford Lad as these two carry the best form of the entire field.
On the form books, Stratford Lad appears the one to beat but although the two are not far apart in weight, 119 pounds versus 111, I am going to give the advantage to the Rose Gimmel and Sir Charles Williams-owned mare Open Secret with jockey Jonathon Grant in the steel.
The diminutive pilot’s usual allergic reaction to the winners’ enclosure should change here. Stratford Lad at times gives the impression that anything more the 1 570 metres is really stretching him, despite a win at the trip on December 14. If he can control the speed of the race he may just get the job done.
Grace Chapel finds the weight in her favour and any repeat of her last run should be enough to see her go close again. Nine starts later, Bandera Belle is yet to prove that her Derby win in 2012 was not a fluke as she continually finds it hard to get a prescription for winners’ enclosure.
Can the magical hands of super hot pilot Reshawn Latchman reignite Island Memories’ form? He was a surprising second last race day but is now back up in the weight; the jury awaits the verdict.
Rickoshey is not the consistent horse that he was in 2012 and the question is whether he can rekindle some old form here? Roars is yet to recover after doing rabbit work in a 2 200 metres race last year; however, if he can reproduce that speed he may have a winning ticket. If this event was a beauty pageant with form being the lead criteria, then Desert Man, Zaltarr and Something Happen – who scored an upset win on September 14 – would not be allowed on stage.