SVEN BALROOP landed a 164/1 double last week Saturday at Santa Rosa Park, Arima. The two-kilo claimer scored back-to-back wins with two of the three longest-priced winners in the two closest finishes of the seven-race card.
Balroop and GNT Racing’s La Reine just got up to deny 3/2 favourite Passionate by a short-head in the fourth event, the Perromax Dog Food Modified Benchmark Handicap for 50-35 rated horses.
Glenn Mendez’s charge, who had placed second in her only other outing on turf, was sent off at odds of 8/1 in the 1,500-metre contest.
Balroop went on to score at more than double that price in the very next event aboard Princess Alex, who came storming down the homestretch to take the Command Performance Dog Food Modified Benchmark Handicap by half-length at 17/1.
It was such a close finish that just over a length separated the next six horses past the post in the 1,600-metre turf contest for 40-25 rated horses. Princess Alex, who had been involved in the first dead-heat for first in 386 races, two months earlier, is owned by Anurhud Persad and trained by Terrance Thomas.
There were three straight long shot winners during the afternoon, beginning with Dillon Nanan’s Desert Dancer prevailing at odds of 14/1 over 1,750 metres in the third race—the Lion Brand Modified Benchmark Handicap for 70-55 rated horses—in the hands of former champion apprentice Dillon Khelawan.
The eight-year-old, who is trained by former Express racing reporter Glen Mohammed, had scored at odds of 24/1 on New Year’s Day, beating last year’s Trinidad & Tobago Breeders Classic winner Bella Riva into second in that 1,500-metre turf contest.
This 2019 Champion Juvenile made her second appearance on grass last Saturday and went on beat 1/5 favourite General JN into second over 1,600 metres in the day’s penultimate event—the Grade III National Flour Mills Champagne Stakes.
Three top fancies still managed to triumph during the seventh round of the Arima Race Club’s 2021 Season. Perfect Saint, backed down to even-money, began proceedings with a three-length triumph in the Good N’ Natural Brand maiden 1,500-metre turf event with Jovika Boodramsingh in the saddle.
The four-year-old filly, owned by Ravi Lacaille and trained by Harry Singh, had finished on the tins in five of her seven previous career outings, three of which were runner-up efforts. And after just edging out Comandante and The Spokesman for favouritism in the curtain event, Fortune Teller went on to beat them into second and third, respectively, in the National Feeds Modified Benchmark Handicap at odds of 2/1.
Khelawan’s brother Kerron, who had notched a double the Saturday before, rode the seven-year-old for champion owner Dave Chadee and his trainer and father Harold in the 1,350-metre affair.
General JN could not deliver the goods at odds of 1/5, but Patta Patta was certainly able to in the second event with former champion jockey Ronald Ali in the irons.
After a strong second on debut six weeks earlier, Harriram Gobin’s charge oozed class when she made all the running to defeated fellow locally-bred three-year-old maidens by a considerably-eased 2 3/4 lengths in the Ibis Premium Brand 1,100-metre event. Patta Patta was bred by owner Rolf Bartolo, who never got to see her race as he passed away last year.
Balroop was the only rider, trainer or owner to score more than once during the National Flour Mills-sponsored card, which was brought forward by two days from Easter Monday to Glorious Saturday. Next local race day is Saturday April 24.