Brandy hunts redemption
WAYNE DaCosta's BRANDY deserves another chance in Saturday's ninth race, a five-and-a-half furlong sprint for non-winners-of-two races and imported maidens, following her foul-up as a 1-9 favourite on Wednesday.
Competing in her second race in 11 days, coming off a six-month lay-up, BRANDY, who matched strides with the best of her peers as a two-year-old last year, was expected to easily land the seven-furlong event after a fast-finishing second behind NECROMANCER at five-and-half on October 20.
However, leaving the gate slowly in the first race of the day, on a track made fast by overnight rain, worsened by her inactivity for more than six months, left the filly one-paced and unable to catch the in-form colts, SON SON and BAD BOY TRUMP, who came home at odds of 11 and 10-1, respectively, bombing form players' Sunrise Pick-6 bets.
In retrospect, a review of BRANDY's exercise gallops, leading up to her two races since returning, suggests DaCosta was concerned about her sharpness, giving her back-to-back gate workouts, before her October 20 run, and a flat six-furlong five days before Wednesday's outing.
Though the distance has been cut back to five and a half, DaCosta's decision to have BRANDY back at the races within three days suggests he is either convinced she needed those two outings or simply desperate, scraping every last dollar possible to maintain his $2m lead ahead of Anthony Nunes atop the trainers' standings.
Ironically, Nunes' speedy KJ EXPRESS is drawn exactly beside BRANDY in the 12-horse field with Dick Cardenas aboard, gunning to take down his rival in the jockeys' championship, Anthony Thomas, who is astride DaCosta's filly.
Both horses were beaten by NECROMANCER in separate races, KJ EXPRESS pressing and finishing fourth at five furlongs round, five and a half lengths behind his subsequently disqualified stablemate on October 6, before BRANDY chased him down to get within a length and a quarter, two weeks later, going a half-furlong longer.
BRANDY, however, is a better bet at the distance, the extra half-furlong being in her favour with other speedsters such as GOLDEN DESTINY, MISS LINDA WRAY and SERGEANT RECKLESS in the line-up to take on KJ EXPRESS, whose best chance is to make a run for home.
Thomas rode three winners on Wednesday to extend his lead to 10 over Cardenas, who started the day facing a deficit of eight winners.
The duelling leaders took their fight down to the final race on the programme, which Cardenas won aboard Nunes 5-2 chance, DIOSA DE ORO, holding off a late charge from Thomas astride Gary Griffiths' NIGHT LIGHT to register his lone winner of the day.
Cardenas' victory with DIOSA DE ORO also excited the trainers' battle between Nunes and champion DaCosta, who won back-to-back races with LADY BLUE and WINTER IS COMING, extending his lead to $1.9m.
With 13 racemeets spread between November 3 and December 29, the respective championships - trainers, jockeys and owners - are set for thrilling finishes, beginning this Saturday, the first meet of the new month.