Sugar Mike is considered one of the best horses, if not, the best importation, to grace the Santa Rosa Park dirt track since centralisation of local horse racing in February, 1994.
The bay son of No Sugar/Ponche held several track records from 1,200 to 2,000 metres and shouldered 60.5 kilos as a penny stamp in his races. He also won the Gold Cup and Stewards Cup double twice, is a two-time Horse of the Year winner (2003/4) and won 15 races with an expansive stakes record.
Bertwin “Mike” Samlalsingh, relating how Sugar Mike was bought, explained that Nolan Hajal initially tried to sell him another horse which, it turned out, had knee problems.
“He told me he had another horse and I bought him as a yearling; he was Sugar Mike,” Samlalsingh continued. “He was trained by a Spanish-speaking trainer who was playing games with the horse. Hajal told me he did not like how he was training the horse. He (Sugar Mike) had nine starts in the USA—two wins, three seconds and two thirds. I never saw him run in America.
“When I was about to race Sugar Mike, I said name him Sugar Daddy. Hajal told me that name was protected, and then he said I named him Sugar Mike. I said ‘what the hell happen to you?’ and that is how he got the name.”
Samlalsingh took Sugar Mike to Grant Lourenco’s stable in 2002.
“His first race was in Trinidad in the 2002 Stewards Cup. He finished third to Cash Wager. He then ran in the Gold Cup the same year and Adawar beat him. He had every record from 1,200 metres to 2,000 metres, and won from 1,100 metres to 2,000 metres.”
Brian Harding, the many times champion jockey at Caymanas Park, Jamaica and in Trinidad, rode Sugar Mike in most of his races,
“I have ridden a lot of good horses,” Harding told the Express. “The best horse I rode at Queen’s Park Savannah is Windy Hill and obviously, Sugar Mike, who I had ridden at Santa Rosa Park. I have ridden a lot of good races. Which race really stands out I would say is Chief Commander winning the Gold Cup. The best jockey I saw growing up (that) I was very impressed with is Geoffrey Griffith’s style and Venice Richards. As I grew older, it was Emile Ramsammy. He was like, my idol. I tried to be like him. Work hard like him. I really liked Lester Piggott and Angel Cordero, those were my idol jockeys.”
Asked about Sugar Mike, Harding revealed, “I think he was the best horse I have ridden. He was an exceptional horse to ride. I was blessed to ride a horse like that. What I like about Sugar Mike, he was so easy to train. On a morning when he goes out to work he will do whatever you ask him to do.
“It was no problem going in company with horses. He will settle down; he will do his work. On a race day, he will do the same thing, whatever you ask him to do. He was a very good horse. He has the record from 1,200 metres to 2,000 metres. I think he still has the record over ten furlongs.” Harding is currently based at Belmont Park, New York.