BELLA RIVA stretched her unbeaten run to a “Hi-5” in the curtain event of the restart to local horse racing yesterday at Santa Rosa Park.
That victory, achieved at local racing’s first-ever closed-door meet, could only be described as an unstoppable march heading into the Triple Crown series, which starts with the 1,800-metre Guineas on August 1.
Bella Riva, by Saint Vigeur/Grand Riviere, owned by Poon Tip Stud Farm and ridden by Brian Boodramsingh for John O’Brien, scored from News Flash, Fast’N’Furious, Spring Valley and Chinta in the 1,200-metre event in a fast 1:12.76.
It was trainer O’Brien’s third win on the six-race card, with Glenn Mendez recording a double and Ryan Lalla Maharajh rounding off the six winning trainers.
Boodramsingh, smartly away on Bella Riva from her outside ten-gate, allowed the speedy Maha Raja to snatch the lead from her. Spring Valley rushed up to join Maha Raja and the trio separated themselves from News Flash and the chasing bunch.
Kimal Santo, on Spring Valley, tried to slip his field but Bella Riva was on cruise and eased by the leader, who looked very ordinary, thus enhanced Bella Riva’s reputation and possible breeding prospects.
Newcomer Apache had given O’Brien a flying restart in the day’s opener with a comprehensive victory in the 1,200-metre West Indian-bred maiden event.
Ridden by Kerron Khelawan for owner Balkrishen Sagan Maraj, the Jamaica-bred gelding scored easily from stablemate Princess Steffani in a good 1:13.1 on a muddy track. It was the first race on local soil since the shut-down on March 14, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under overcast skies and an apprehensive atmosphere, Lady Hamilton, ridden by Ricky Jadoo for owner Tasram Maharaj, made most of the running to give Mendez the first of his two winners on the afternoon.
The track was made muddy by near storm-like weather very early yesterday morning, but jockeys seemed unfazed. “The track was good. It was bad this morning for exercising horses,” one told the Sunday Express.
Asked about riding while wearing masks, one declared. “We had an option.”
In the third race, O’Brien’s other Guineas contender, Wise Guy, had supporters sweating as 9/1 outsider Indy Anna Baby, ridden by apprentice Tristan Phillips, headed him. However, their hearts were revived by a bobbing of heads that gave the 1/9 favourite the needed relief for his backers.
Nicely away from the one gate, he took up the running easily from Single Bullet and looked set for a comfortable win, but it wasn’t to be. Indy Anna Baby got a lovely run up the rails and looked set for the big upset. However, jockeyship and fitness won through in the end.
In race four, moved from the turf to the main course, Mendez completed a double on the card with owner Steve Samaroo’s Marconi, ridden by Prayven Badrie, who turned defeat into success at the expense of apprentice Phillips, aboard April The Twelveth, by a whisker.
In the fifth race, Reggae Rhythm silenced the small crowd with a smooth victory. Ridden by Kiran Razack for trainer Ryan Lalla-Maharajh and owner, Aruna Ali, Reggae Rhythm battled for the lead with Desert Dancer for most of the journey, and was eased ahead inside the final 300 metres for a very comfortable success from a fast finishing Regal Intension and American Dillon in the 1,350-metre extended sprint.
The ARC’s betting projection of $800,000 fell way below that mark as the betting handle was approximately $330,000 for local horse racing and simulcast. And their stakes payout for the day’s card was $82,800.
Racing action continues Saturday with a possible eight-race card.