KINGSTON, Jamaica - On this occasion, for practical purposes, the traditional 1400-metre Labour Day Trophy was run the day following May 23, and an interesting result in an exciting finish emerged. The weight allotment of 57 kilogrammes to eventual favourite Double Crown, unraced since January and in spite of his good preparation, meant he had to report with significant improvement in ability to succeed.
Improving US-bred gelding Eagle One (Dick Cardenas) won from in front at odds at 16/1 for the great form of trainer Jason DaCosta to continue. The second-generation conditioner enjoyed his 16th trip to the winners’ enclosure following his first official success in his own right on April 7. The 35-year-old has now skyrocketed into fourth place in the 2021 top ten list of trainers’ statistics.
The 800-metre straight opener on the nine-race programme was decided in the final strides in a battle of apprentices. Well-fancied Just Trick Me with Samantha Fletcher led to within 50 metres of the wire but could not hold on. Strong late challenges emerged in the form of Union Four ridden by Natalie Berger and eventual winner Chief of State, partnered by leading claiming apprentice Youville Pinnock with a neck to spare for trainer Renex Burrell’s second from five starts this year.
Johnny Wilmot’s Nuclear Emma, with favourite rider Paul Francis, dismissed seven out of form rivals by over seven lengths in the 1300-metre second event. In stark contrast the third event needed photo finish technology to assist the naked eyes.
The photo apparatus confirmed that the Ian Parsard-trained Dejae’s Boy (Omar Walker) had arrived in the final stride to better long-time front-runner Big Big Daddy (Dane Dawkins) by a short head, with Fearless Champion (Anthony Thomas) a neck further away in third.
Joint 2020 champion and leading reinsman Thomas coaxed a narrow victory out of front-running favourite Dee Danger for trainer Steven Todd in the fourth. This was an improvement in luck for Thomas as half an hour earlier his mount, Fearless Champion, reared to lose significant ground at the start, and he lost the assistance of the whip early in the straight but still managed to bring the finish close.
Speaking of luck, Natalie Berger had an improvement as well with Anthony Smith’s five-year-old Casual Charm sprinting gamely at 24/1 to beat the nearest of her nine rivals by a neck in the 800-metre fifth event.
The sixth event, confined to unplaced three-year-olds, gave the opportunity to trainer Winchester McIntosh to get off the mark this season. Dane Nelson secured a two-and-quarter length victory with Irish Whisky responding to the typically bustling jockeyship in the 13-horse line-up.
Claimed from Richard Azan by Ian Parsard for $1 million and subjected to an intense, eight-week preparation drill, Peking Cruz (Omar Walker) was always clear to score in the 1000-metre-round seventh event for the trainer’s second of two wins on the day.
Inconsistent five-year-old Nez Perce (Tevin Foster), trained by Wayne Parchment, won the 1200-metre closing event comfortably by over two lengths at odds of 6/1. In keeping with the current 2021 trend, this victory by Parchment and those of Parsard, DaCosta and Todd, brought to five the number of races won by second-generation trainers on the day and nine in the last 18 races.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Anthony Smith for the performance of Casual Charm in winning as a five-year-old in a race confined to four-year-olds and upwards, which is a rarity. Eagle One delivered the Best Winning Gallop being under pressure from early in the home straight and battling gamely to win a hugely competitive contest by three parts of a length. Dick Cardenas takes another of his numerous Jockeyship Awards for completing a challenging task aboard Eagle One successfully.