By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
After a year’s absence, the Virgin Islands Triple Crown returned with the first leg kicking off at the Ellis Thomas Downs on Sunday.
After mixing it up with the field for the fist half mile, St. Croix’s St. Moose sprinted away from the group to cross the line by at least 15 lengths ahead of Tortola’s Trading Secrets, and claimed the first leg, just as owner James “Bubba” Bates did in the event’s inaugural year in 2012 with Slevin.
The stallion put all doubts away with his move that saw him coming within range of Trevelyn’s tack record of 1:49.00 for 1-1/16 Miles with a time of 1:50.1, to claim the Lion’s share of the $10,000 prize in the race also called the Turtle Dove Classic.
“He was training really good going into the race and we just wanted to see how he would take the trip over and he took it really good and he came out victorious,” said. “In the race, I just saw him pulling away and he kept going. He’s something else. The longer he goes, the better he is.”
Trading Secrets finished second and St. Thomas’ Swag Daddy was the show horse, finishing ahead of Chilean Boy. Still Unbroken who broke the gate twice and all horses had to be reloaded finished last.
Bates isn’t overlooking the other legs of the Triple Crown. In 2012 his horse Slevin won the first leg then was beaten in the second. He said St. Moose is looking good but anything can happen. “Maybe, somebody’s horse wasn’t feeling good today,” he said.
Increase My Payment, another St. Croix horse, also went to winners row, when the debutant overhauled Sin Mirar Atras to win the $4500 William Rhymer Rumble over 6½” Furlongs in 1:25.4. The show horse was King Hugo, finishing ahead of Prince of Speed. Southern Dunn fell off the pace early and was not a factor in the race. St. Thomas’ Extra Brew was scratched.
The card opened with the $4200 Eileen Parsons Classic where St. Thomas debutant Marchoramus took the measure of the field in the 5 Furlongs race in 1:01.4. St. Croix’s Peacephilly got home ahead of Original Runner. Good Boy Daddy who broke the gate following a long weight was fourth followed by Mark It A Wynn and True Essence.
Fort Pyramid fought off the challenge of charging Jordan’s Image of St. Thomas, to win the 7 Furlongs Oliver Cills Showdown, sponsored by Hon. Julian Fraser in 1:30.4. The race offered a $5000 purse. St. Croix’s debutant Kid From Comerio had a strong finish to run past early co-leader Starship Titan. Buy Buy Buy came home ahead of St. Thomas’ Funny Accommodations.
In the day’s fourth race, debutant Bitter Sweet Dream held off St. Croix’s Extra Brew down the stretch after they broke from a bunched field to win to by a length in the Axel Ritter Special over One Mile that had a $5000 purse. The winning time was 1:48.4. Miss Homer placed ahead of Orithya while St. Croix’s Pa Pa Pa Perfect did not finish the race. Kenny’s Dddi Blu was scratched.
St. Croix’s Luxury Appeal in its debut was overtaken by St. Thomas’ Stevens Got Better to win the $7500 Patsy Lake Invitational 5 Furlongs sprint, covering the race in 1:01.0. Kanavayen broke down less than halfway through the race and pulled out after injuring her right front foot while debutant Joyful Minister was scratched.
Dough Maker beat back St. Croix’s Uptown Anthem in the final race featuring all debutants in the Allen “Tiger” Hodge Memorial One Mile sponsored by D&B Trucking and Hauling, which had a $7000 purse. Dough Maker finished in 1:46.0.
St. Croix’s Blast of Macho finished off the pace while St. Thomas’ Admission was scratched.