Really Up Town romps to victory

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TORTOLA - Unchallenged Really Up Town romped to a 10-length victory for his fourth straight win Sunday afternoon in the opening leg of the second annual V.I. Triple Crown at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay. St. Croix's Gato Paso was a distant second in his debut.

The race was affected when immigration officials denied two jockeys entry, resulting in St. Thomas' Twisted Dreams scratching and Tortola's Good Prospecting having to use an exercise rider.

The $10,000 Turtle Dove Classic, which covered 1 mile and 1/16, was run before a crowd smaller than the one on Boxing Day and considerably less than the inaugural race a year ago. The race was also without St. Croix's Slevin, who was expected to be Really Up Town's primary challenger.

Gato Paso made an early bold move, which was the only highlight before Really Up Town took control and began systematically burying the field. By the time he crossed the finish line in 1 minute and 49.2 seconds, Gato Paso was in the distance, with Tortola's Good Prospecting finishing third. St. Thomas' Sweet Sight was fourth.

"I give all the credit to my trainer Antonio Cordero and to my jockey Alberto Soto," said Really Up Town's owner Violet Hodge of L and B Stables. "We have a serious team right now and without them, I couldn't be doing what I'm doing now. Looking at Really Up Town, it's going to take a lot more to beat him. Really Up Town is proving himself to be a monster."

Hodge added more praise on Cordero, saying he knows what he's doing.

"All the kudos from me goes to him," she said.

Good Prospecting owner Lesmore Smith said Really Up Town is good.

"I'm not disputing that," he said. "At the end of the day, competition is good and he'll get some competition really soon."

Smith was disappointed in not having his jockey, who wasn't allowed entry into the territory and his exercise rider sat in the irons instead.

"I had some deficiencies because of that," he said.

BVI Horse Racing Association President Karen Smith-Aaron also expressed disappointment in having two jockeys who were scheduled to ride St. Thomas' Sweet Dreams and Tortola's Good Prospecting turned back by immigration officials as a result of problems with their documents. This, she noted, also affected Gaffione, who was scratched in the fourth race as that same jockey was to mount Good Prospecting.

"It's really discouraging for the horse owners when you have issues like these because you spend so much money to come here and you can't run," she said. "You put out a lot and then there's nothing in return."

Aaron said the day was what they expected - slower than Boxing Day because everyone wanted to see the Really Up Town vs. Slevin matchup.

"They felt that there was no competition in this race for Really Up Town, and I can't say what would have happened if the fifth horse had gotten to enter," she said. "Other than that, I'm pleased that people came out and watched the races."

In other races on the card, the Patsy Lake 1-Mile Invitational, which offered a $5,000 purse and preceded the feature race, saw Broken Home end St. Thomas' Kun Dan's three-race winning streak. Gaffione was scratched and the two horses began an early duel with Kun Dan setting the pace.

Broken Home made his move on the backstretch and ran past Kun Dan, who never recovered, en route to victory in one minute 48.1.

Race 3, the $6,000 Axel Ritter 1-Mile Special, produced the day's most drama during loading. Glorious Memory broke from the gate after being loaded, ran 2½ furlongs and back to the padlock area. He eventually returned to race and was not a factor. Rookie entrant True Essence, who also gave problems loading, was left in the gate and finished third as Blake's Lucky Penny went on to win in 1:48 over Orithyia, who was second at six lengths behind. St. Thomas' GoodEveningOfficer was scratched.

The card opened with the Eileen Parsons Classic, which offered $4,000 in prizes. St. Thomas' Walk The Tiger went from gate to wire, clocking in at 1:20.3 for the win. Queteparce Cholito was second, followed by Power Ten.

Rookie entrant Drink At Last Call claimed the bulk of the $4,500 prize in the Oliver Cills Showdown in the 6½-furlong race, winning in 1:22.4. Tormento followed, with Good Boy Daddy placing third. Green Light Special was scratched.

Henry shatters BVI National Junior Shot Put record

Eldred Henry opened the Gatorade/Hastings Grant Memorial Development Series by shattering his own National Junior Shot Put record. He was joined by Nelda Huggins and Lakeisha "Mimi" Warner as Carifta Games qualifiers. The series began the BVI Athletics Association's 2013 season.

Elsewhere, CARIFTA Games U17 Girls Javelin champ Tynelle Gumbs missed her National Record by .03 centimeters, while Shaquoy Stephens led other personal bests to win the U20 Boys 200 meters by dipping under 22 seconds for the first time.

Athletes from the Cheetah's Track Club on St. Thomas also competed in the event. But it was the 18-year old Henry's day.

On his first shot put heave, the chiseled 6-foot-5 318 pounds athlete, uncorked a throw of 55 feet and 9 inches to demolish his own National Junior record of 53 feet and 6½ inches, which he used to close his 2012 season at the CAC Junior Championships in El Salvador. His mark missed the Pan Am Junior Championships qualifying standard by .01 centimeters.

"My performance didn't go as I wanted it, but I still had a good outcome," Henry said. "I was looking for something close to an 18-meter throw because in the offseason, I threw close to 19. I believe my warm-up affected my throwing. I'd warmed up early and cooled down and the mind set probably wasn't really there at that moment. But seeing that my throw was from a standing position, I think I can hit my goals - I just have to work on it."

On the track, Top Notch Track Club's Nelda Huggins - last year's U17 Girls 100-meter CARIFTA Games silver medalist - led the parade of 200-meter performers to the tape as she crossed the line in 24.98 seconds - her fastest opener with a +1.4 breeze.

Sprint tech Track Club's Warner, who notched the 2012 CARIFTA Games U17 Girls 800-meter bronze medal, chopped two seconds off last year's opener to win in 2 minutes and 17.10 seconds.

Gumbs of Top Notch Track Club, who moved up to the U20 division this year, began her series with a 36.71-meter shot with the 600g spear, just off her 36.74 best from last year. She also collected an 11.52-meter personal best in the 4K Shot Put.

After her first throw, Gumbs said her technique was off and her run up was too far back.

"That's why I couldn't get maximum distance, so I'll have to fix that during my training and see what happens after that," she said.

Fast Lane Track Club's Stephens sliced his U20 Boys 200-meter best from 22.19 seconds with his 21.89 opener, en route to a run away victory.

The next event in the Gatorade Development Series will be the Tahesia Harrigan-Scott Classic on Jan. 25. Competition begins at 5:30 p.m.

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