Wise Guy stays on T&T Triple Crown path with O’Brien’s 1200th career win

By Lance Whittaker November 01, 2020
Wise Guy with jockey Kimal Santo winning Saturday’s Midsummer Classic at Santa Rosa Park. Wise Guy with jockey Kimal Santo winning Saturday’s Midsummer Classic at Santa Rosa Park. Ralph Banwarie

Trinidad and Tobago’s champion racehorse trainer John O’Brien logged his 1200th career win with a Midsummer Classic triumph for Wise Guy at Santa Rosa Park on Saturday that kept the chestnut gelding on the path to the Triple Crown.

Ridden by the 20-year-old apprentice Kimal Santo, Wise Guy captured the TT$55,000 (US$8,000) National Lotteries Control Board (NCLB) Midsummer Classic by 1-1/4 lengths over his 22-1 stablemate Apache. Wise Guy clocked two minutes 02.31 seconds as the 2-5 favourite for the 9-1/2 furlong run on a sloppy track to complete the second leg of the Triple Crown, having won the Guineas last month.

After leading early and then stalking the front-running 90-1 bet Spring Valley, Santo challenged for the lead mid-race with Wise Guy while Princess Steffani (40-1) surged forward to tackle the pacesetters.

Approaching the final bend, Wise Guy and Princess Steffani had a near three-length advantage on the rest of the field but Wise Guy quickly gained control as they entered the homestretch.

The Jamaica-bred Apache presented a brief threat inside the last furlong but Santo’s right-hand whipping kept Wise Guy safely in front to the finish, becoming the first T&T-bred winner of the Triple Crown “Middle Jewel” since Onetokeep in 2012.

“He kept going when the horse (Apache) got to his withers which is commendable but he does idle a bit when he is in front for too long,” said O’Brien about Wise Guy’s seeming moment of vulnerability inside the last furlong.

The 5-2 bet Bella Riva, the 2019 champion two-year-old, was a further 5-1/2 lengths away in third in a top-three Classic sweep for O’Brien achieving the 1200-win milestone he was not even aware of. “I didn’t have any idea at all. I remember the thousand and the 11 hundred but I didn’t realize I had got there,” said O’Brien.

In a race dominated in the past seven years by Jamaica-bred horses, including 2014 Triple Crown winner Momentum and the Jamaican Anthony Nunes-trained 2016 winner, The Gatsby, Wise Guy scored one of three wins O’Brien had on the afternoon.  The 16-time champion trainer also scored with Lady Bird in the first and News Flash in the second.

The PT Racing-owned Wise Guy had won the September 24 Guineas by 4-1/2 lengths snapping Bella Riva’s six-race winning streak. The improving gelding now has four wins in six starts this year and will target the November 28 T&T Derby, bidding to become Santa Rosa Park’s fourth Triple Crown winner after the Glenn Mendez pair of Carnival Messiah (2001) and Top of the Class (2003) and O’Brien’s Momentum six years ago.

 

 

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