Berberis gets near record win at Easter horse races


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El Real Madrid's comeback will have to wait, and Slevin was also a late scratch, so Berberis took advantage and surged to an easy victory.

With jockey Brian Gonzales aboard, Berberis won the 1-mile Roger Rabbit Classic in 1 minute and 36.4 seconds to highlight the Easter Day Horse Races at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack on Sunday on St. Croix.

The winning time was a fraction of a second off the track record, and Berberis' run was one of nine races on the card. With the win, the Berberis camp collected a majority of the $5,000 purse.

"Berberis took off, and then no one contested him," TRAXCO general manager Dennis Brow said. "He really blew them away and showed some class. Carse came in second, while Big D was one of the favorites and finished a disappointing third."

El Real Madrid, a former V.I. champion, has been away from the action for over a year, and after a recent surgery, his trainers didn't feel he was quite ready to race. Slevin won the first leg of the Johnnie Walker Black V.I. Triple Crown Classic two months ago, but has not raced since he took runner-up in the second leg.

Both horses scratched on Saturday, Brow said.

"It was sort of a surprise that both entered and then scratched," Brow said. "I knew both had been training for this one, so hopefully they will be ready to go again soon."

In the V.I. Bred Open, Prince Crystal picked up his fifth consecutive victory, but this one was no walk in the park.

"They came to the pole together so this was a close challenge for him," Brow said. "He beat out Dinero by about a half length."

Jockey Elmo Barnes - one of three jockeys to win two races apiece on Sunday - rode Prince Crystal to a first-place finish in the 1-mile race in a time of 1:41.3 to collect a majority of the $4,100 purse. Dinero was a very close second, while Creation Rebel took third.

While Prince Crystal has shown dominance this season, his five-race win streak is not unusual.

"We've had lots of streaks over the years," Brow said. "Blackjack Bob had a nice run recently, and Carse won eight straight. Going back five years, there was Actspectation out of Tortola who won 19 races in a row."

Lavender Lane, a recent purchase out of Tampa, Fla., made her debut in the Easter Bonnet Classic, and did not disappoint. With Barnes aboard, Lavender Lane exploded out of the gates and was never challenged during her 1-mile victory in 1:36.4.

The time was just six-tenths of a second off the track record, which is shared by Carse and Puertorican Emblem.

"She just flew in a few days ago, and will be here for a while," Brow said. "She is tough. She got out to a four-length lead and never looked back."

Leggy Blonde took a distant second, and Watch Your Back came in third. Sardina made her debut out of Puerto Rico and finished sixth. The race paid out a $4,300 purse.

Gonzales also rode Expect Smoke to a win in the sixth race of the day, while jockey Winston Hurst picked up wins in the first two races of the day. In the final race, jockey Myris Rivera rode Ala Cat to a win.

Brow said the next set of races are scheduled for May 6, but that date is pending because it's only one week after the St. Thomas Carnival races and the same day as the 24th annual St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.

- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 714-9102 or email agray@dailynews.vi.

Easter Sunday Races

Randall 'Doc' James Racetrack, St. Croix

Race 1 - 6 furlongs, $3,400

1. What's Poppin, W. Hurst, 1:12

2. Robadorable

3. Spitfire Red

Race 2 - 7 1/2 furlongs, $3,400

1. Cruzan Emerald, W. Hurst, 1:36

2. Midnight Indictment

3. Joe Boss

Race 3 - 7 furlongs, $3,600

1. Dance Mistress, J. Hernandez, 1:26.2

2. Prodefrere

3. Paul's Gift

Race 4 - 7 1/2 furlongs, $3,800

1. Brave Reward, S. Ortiz, 1:31.3

2. Blackjack Bob

3. San Viron

Race 5 - 1 mile, $4,100

1. Prince Crystal, E. Barnes, 1:41.3

2. Dinero

3. Creation Rebel

Race 6 - 1 mile, $4,100

1. Expect Smoke, B. Gonzales, 1:39.2

2. Bean Town

3. Green Sand

Race 7 - 1 mile, $4,300

1. Lavender Lane, E. Barnes, 1:36.4

2. Leggy Blonde

3. Watch Your Back

Race 8 - 1 mile, $5,000

1. Berberis, B. Gonsales, 1:36.4

2. Carse

3. Big D

Race 9 - 1 mile, $3,700

1. Ala Cat, M. Rivera, 1:40

2. Black Machine

3. Game Winner

- Source: TRAXCO general manager Dennis Brow

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