Gandalf signs off Barbados Triple Crown series with big Derby win

By Lance Whittaker August 02, 2018
 Jalon Samuel steers front-running Gandalf across the line for huge win in the Massy United Insurance Barbados Derby at the Garrison Savannah racetrack. Jalon Samuel steers front-running Gandalf across the line for huge win in the Massy United Insurance Barbados Derby at the Garrison Savannah racetrack.

The colt Gandalf was unstoppable in Wednesday’s Massy United Insurance Derby using a classy front-running win that gave jockey Jalon Samuel his first Derby triumph and champion trainer Victor Cheeseman his fourth win in the 10-furlong classic in five years.

Guineas winner Gandalf, a 7-5 favourite, scored by a length ahead of stablemate and second favourite Brave Star (8-5) with Jackmanannygap (25-1) third, giving Cheeseman a sweep of the top three finishes in the BDS$68,000 (US$34,000) event at the Garrison Savannah racetrack.

This Derby result means the Bills Inc-owned Gandalf has captured two legs of the Triple Crown series and would have become the first winner of the famed triple series in nine years if he had not been disqualified after winning the Midsummer Classic in June.

Samuel, in from Canada for the ride, pushed Gandalf to lead soon after the start, and regulated a comfortable pace ahead of a chasing pack that included Jackmanannygap, Jewel (18-1) and the 34-1 outsider Don’t Doubt Doris, who raced alongside Gandalf as the field galloped past the stands for the first time.

Breezing the first two quarters in 25 and 48.4 and six furlongs in 1:15, Gandalf then moved into a clear lead and as the chasing trio faded, Brave Star accelerated under champion jockey Rickey Walcott to chase his front-running stablemate.

Two furlongs out, Brave Star was challenging stoutly alongside Gandalf but responding to a few cracks of right hand whipping for Samuel, Gandalf quickly restored a length and half advantage coming off the final turn.

Gandalf remained strong down the homestretch while Brave Star’s challenge was downgraded to mild and Jackmanannygap finished a further 9-1/4 lengths back in third spot.

“Gandalf is a very good horse and finishing 1-2-3 for me this (Derby win) stands out the most,” said Cheeseman, who won a record-equalling three consecutive Derby races in 2014 (Voldemort), Poetic Licence (2015) and Northern Star (2016).

Gandalf’s handlers had appealed his Midsummer Classic disqualification in June, hoping he could be reinstated to keep his Triple Crown bid alive. The verdict upholding the stewards’ disqualification decision was announced Tuesday, the eve of the Derby.

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  • Champions Jadoo and Mendez secure Midsummer win with Juice Man Champions Jadoo and Mendez secure Midsummer win with Juice Man

    Champion jockey Ricky Jadoo’s perfect ride for champion trainer Glenn Mendez secured a near two-length win for the Jamaica-bred colt Juice Man in Thursday’s Trinidad and Tobago Midsummer Classic at Santa Rosa Park.

    A 2-1 joint second favourite in the small seven-horse field, Juice Man, in just his second start in T&T, successfully tackled the front running 16-1 bet Blue Navigator approaching the final turn and galloped stoutly to victory by 1-3/4 lengths in the TT$125,000 (US$18,800) event. The even-money favourite Apocalypse was second and Making Headlines (12-1) third.

    The Justyn Kanta Persad-owned Juice Man clocked two minutes 00.40 seconds for the 9-1/2 furlong trip and Mendez is now keen to start the Lakeland Farms-bred colt in the September 24 Trinidad Derby.

    “We will look for (another) race or two before the Derby,” Mendez said of Juice Man, who won his T&T debut in early July just a couple of months after his last race in Jamaica in March. The Storm Craft out of Passion colt had logged two wins from eight starts at Jamaica’s Caymanas Park from Triple Crown winning trainer Anthony Nunes’s barn.

    Top trainer John O’Brien’s Blue Navigator with Panamanian jockey Nobel Abrego held an uncontested lead for most of the trip but late on the backstretch, Jadoo accelerated Juice Man to move within a length of the lead with Regal Intension (2-1) and Apocalypse under Canada-based Barbadian jockey Patrick Husbands within striking distance.

    Coming off the final bend, Juice Man shot past the tiring Blue Navigator while the quickening Apocalypse went in chase with Regal Intension and Making Headlines in challenging positions as a mere three lengths separated the first five horses at the top of the homestretch.

    Jadoo, who rode 34 winners in 2018 to snatch his fifth jockeys’ title, glanced – early in the homestretch -- at the looming threat of Husbands and Apocalypse on his outside and roused his mount for a strong run to the finish.

    The Apocalypse pressure – despite vigorous left-hand whipping by Husbands – inside the final furlong and a half was mild and good enough only for a clear second as his stablemate Making Headlines finished a further 4-1/2 lengths back in third.

    Regal Intension’s Triple Crown bid was scuppered with his fourth place finish and O’Brien’s target miss with his five-pronged entry in the seven-horse field was further compounded by an injury to his Oaks winner She’s So Spectacula.

    Owned by Chevan Maharaj, whose colt Supreme Soul captured the 2019 Triple Crown in Jamaica, She’s So Spectacula damaged a sesamoid, a career-ending injury.

    For trainer Mendez, Juice Man’s win was his seventh in this second leg of the Triple Crown series and one of his most remarkable having had just a couple of months with the colt. Juice man had never before Thursday gone a trip as long as the 9-1/2-furlong Midsummer with his two wins in Jamaica both five-furlong sprints. Mendez conditioned him quickly to an 8-3/4-furlong win in his Midsummer “prep” on July 6 at Santa Rosa Park, his first run at the Arima racetrack.

    “Going into his first race (in July) I tried to do some stamina work because he had never been beyond seven furlongs (in Jamaica) and we weren’t sure how much he would stay. He ran well and actually kicked on in that race,” Mendez said of his Santa Rosa debut win over Trovatore and Blue Navigator.

    “We got in a trouble-free preparation so he was ready,” Mendez explained.

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