Brilliant Above and Beyond survives Oaks scare from Another Affair

By Lance Whittaker  August 29, 2020
:  Above and Beyond gets past Another Affair at the finish to add the Jamaica Oaks to her Fillies Guineas triumph in July. : Above and Beyond gets past Another Affair at the finish to add the Jamaica Oaks to her Fillies Guineas triumph in July.

Leading jockey Dane Nelson produced an aggressive ride that powered the Fillies Guineas winner and big favourite Above and Beyond to an arduous win over rival Another Affair in Saturday’s Jamaica Oaks at Caymanas Park.

Above and Beyond, the 1-2 favourite, only surged to the front in the final strides of the JA$2.5 Million (US$16,800) Classic and won by a half-length over the 6-1 bet Another Affair while becoming the first horse in 11 years to complete the Fillies Guineas and Oaks double. 

The chestnut filly, by Blue Pepsi Lodge out of Rumble, also logged the fastest Oaks winning time for the 10-furlong trip in almost 30 years, stopping the clock at two minutes 06.80 seconds for champion trainer Anthony Nunes. “What a horse race,” Nunes said moments after securing his fourth Oaks triumph.

“Another Affair ran brilliantly. She bounced out of that gate from early and Dane (Nelson) had no choice but to turn into a 10-furlong sprint. Dane did a fantastic job as he always does,” added Nunes, celebrating his 23rd Classic success.

Beaten 6-1/4 lengths into second spot by Above and Beyond in the Guineas a month ago, Another Affair was sent to lead by jockey Robert Halledeen from post-position one, while Above and Beyond from the nine-box approached the first turn in close touch with the trio of Shepanza (3-1) and the outsiders Adore Brilliance (34-1) and Basilicus (60-1) in a cluster two lengths behind.

Another Affair still led mid-race with Above and Beyond at her girth, with Shepanza 2-1/2 lengths further back struggling to keep pace as Nunes’s 16-1 bet Glock quickened in fourth to chase the leaders.

Another Affair accelerated approaching the three-furlong marker and in a flash threateningly kicked two lengths clear of Above and Beyond as Nelson urged the big filly to close the gap.

Posting solid splits of 24.2, 49.1 and 1:12.3 for six furlongs before breezing the mile split in 1:38.4, Another Affair was still running stoutly into the homestretch and appeared very unwilling to relinquish her lead to the Guineas champion.

Nelson, who won four races on Saturday’s card, had already gone for the whip right-handed coming off the final bend but was only closing mildly and didn’t appear to be closing fast enough either when he changed his hold and switched to left-hand whipping heading into the last furlong.

Another Affair began her surrender deep inside the last furlong as the classy Above and Beyond – under Nelson’s vigorous handling -- incrementally wore her down and became the first filly since Saint Cecelia in 2009 to land both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks.

The win was Above and Beyond’s fourth in eight career starts for owners Rawdon Persad, Vickram Oditt & Rajendra Poonai and gave the 36-year-old Nelson his second Oaks triumph. Her win was the fastest in the Oaks since Godwin Bucknor’s Poorlittlerichgirl won the 1991 edition in the same time.

Nunes, who landed a triple on the 10-race card, also won the co-feature JA$1.5 Million (US$10,000) Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy race with his four-year-old gelding Toona Ciliata snapping the outstanding three-year-old colt Wow Wow’s 11-race winning streak.

The 2-1 bet Toona Ciliata, ridden by Omar Walker, sped to a dominant five-length victory to be undefeated in three starts this year, posting a smart 1:53.60 for nine furlongs and 25 yards.  Wow Wow, the 1-2 favourite, finished second.

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