Alsafra outstays rivals in Jamaica Derby

(Caymanas Park) Sat. June 14, 2008.

The vastly improved filly Alsafra keeps her Triple Crown hope alive when winning the Ja$5 Million Digicel Jamaica Derby over 2400 metres at Caymanas Park.
Installed an 8-5 second choice Alsafra came away sharply from her number 11 post position in the fourteen horse-field which comprised the 2000 Guineas winner and 7-5 favourite Royal Image with customary pilot Shane Ellis in the saddle.
Royal Image, who was unbeaten in four starts this season, attempted an all the way run but was hounded by the 32-1 shot Wheel N Deal under title chasing jockey Dane Nelson and Alsafra with two-time champion jockey Brian Harding, who once again flew in from his base in Trinidad specifically for the ride.
Not much change halfway into the race where Wheel N Deal began to run erratic and eventually dislodged Nelson, who was indeed lucky to have escaped serious injury.
Still, Harding wasted no time to challenge the long time leader Royal Image on approaching the half-mile and both soon separated themselves from the rest of the field.
In an effort to keep pace the Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes winner Josie Wales with five-time champion Trevor Simpson in the saddle moved into third but never appeared threatening to the top two racing side to side as they hit the top of the stretch drive.
In the end the chestnut progeny of Legal Process out of the 2007 champion broodmare Tee Gee Vee by D'ACCORD do away with Royal Image in remarkable fashion to establish herself for a crowning moment when she will bid to become only the second filly behind Simply Magic in 2002 to win the Triple Crown in the 49-year history of Caymanas Park.
Trained by Fitznahum Williams on behalf of Sherman Clachar and Norman Gordon, Alsafra covered the gruelling distance in 2:36 3/5 seconds.
Williams said: "This season has been a dream one for me and my owners (of Alsafra) are having the time of their lives.
"What you saw out there a little while ago made me so confident that her last real preparation over seven furlongs put the icing on the cake.
As for her Triple Crown bid in the July 12 Jamaica St. Leger over 2000 metres, Williams emphasized: "I've got a good team and although it will be no walk in the park we are ready for anyone and anything."

Meanwhile champion jockey Omar Walker took up where he left off last Saturday by highlighting the card for two consecutive racedays, this time with a four-timer.
Walker, who started the day as the leading rider this season with 61 wins, widened his advantage when booting home Pat On Call for trainer Robert Darby Snr in the opener, champion trainer Wayne Dacosta's Forever Mine in the fourth event, Time Of My Life for trainer Tensang Chung in the seventh event and another from Dacosta's barn in Chadman in the eleventh event on the 14-race card which realized a record wager of Ja$57.1 Million at the pari-mutuel, surpassing the previous best of Ja$49.2 Million last Boxing Day.

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