Prince Crystal completed a sweep of all three Native Triple Crown Races Saturday with an impressive victory in the Hovensa Cup at the Randall “Doc” James Race Track, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in island racintg history.
In front of a near capacity crowd, Randy Braithwaite’s bay colt, with his patented come-from-behind style, nailed a game Express to Cali at the wire to win by half a length, to the delight of the packed grandstand. Other horses have won two of the races, but none has won all three until Prince Crystal did so Saturday.
“I have worked with this horse for three years now and despite all the naysayers saying that I work him too hard, I continued with my training style and that is what brought him to this today” said an exuberant Braithwaite. “This horse don’t get any drugs or medication, strictly supplements. After today I am going to give him a little rest and see what happens after that”.
Express to Cali, with Kerwin John in the irons, sped to the early lead at the break of the 1-1/18 miles race, followed closely by Emerald Star and jockey Christian Soto. The rest of the pack was bunched another two lengths back.
Express to Cali led the field around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch, with Emerald star staying on his heels in second. Midway down the backstretch Emerald Star momentarily poked his head in front, but back came Express to Cali to regain the lead.
Up to this point, jockey Jesus Guadelupe had Prince Crystal in fifth but was visibly beginning to move. As they approached the far turn the Native champ was really beginning to roll and was picking off horses one by one. As they made the turn for home, Guadelupe, now sitting in third, had to take the outside route to get around horses and lost some ground to Express to Cali, who still held the lead. However, as expected, the champ quickly got back on track and was quickly reeling in the leader as the wire approached.
He collared him at the mile marker and slowly edged away for the half length victory. Prince Crystal covered the 1-1/18 miles distance in 1:57.3 to take home the lion’s share of the $11,200.00 purse. Express to Cali was a very game second and Emerald Star was able to hold on for third.
In the second biggest race on the card, the $8,800 Governor’s Cup, Lost River of St. Croix and Gallant Ruler of St. Thomas engaged in a classic two-horse race from gate to wire. There were two other horses in the race but it was obvious from the start they would be racing for third place as they would be no match for the top two.
Gallant Ruler with jockey Junior Inirio and Lost River with Kerwin John aboard both broke well and locked horns from the get go. They made their first pass of the grandstand as one and as they circumnavigated the track they were never more than half a length apart. The crowd was on its feet cheering loudly when these two turned for home and was still standing minutes after the horses crossed the finish line with the race too close to call.
Replay showed Gallant Ruler just did get his nose across the wire in front of Lost River, in a time of 1:53.3. Black Jack Bob, with Angel Viera aboard, finished third.
Race eight was much anticipated, as it would determine the best mare in the territory, but in the end it was no contest. Bonnie Bonita of St. Thomas, ridden by jockey Kevin Krigger, destroyed a field of six by some seven lengths to clearly show she is the class of the islands. She blew by the front-running duo of Big Kate and Bold Cleo around the far turn and just seemed to explode down the stretch for the easy victory in a hand ride. Leggy Blonde and jockey José Rivera was able to close well for second with Big Kate and jockey Christian Soto edging Bold Cleo and jockey Junior Inirio for third. Bonnie Bonita negotiated the one mile distance in a time of 1:39.2.
Race 11, the Cruzan Christmas Classic, was another great race, as three horses – Dashing Pirate of St. Thomas, Green Sand of St. Croix and Duke of Pearl of St. Thomas – all came to the wire in another too-close-to call race. In the end video replay showed that Dashing Pirate, on a head bob, was just able to hit the wire ahead of Green Sand and Duke of Pearl in second and third respectively. The time of the race was 1:39.3, slightly slower than the time of Bonnie Bonita in her one-mile race.
The rest of the day’s results are:
Race 1 5 F Class H, Jockey
1. Outta Hand, Alphonso Claudio
2. Fifty Cents, Jesus Guadelupe
3. Juanito, Kerwin John
Race 2 5 F Class N-6, Jockey
1. Cherokee Gold, Angel Viera
2. Miss Kosi, Natanael Puello
3. Mohagony Road, Winston Hurst
Race 3 1M Class I4&5, Jockey
1. My Own Sky, Junior Inirio
2. Get Ready Now, Kerwin John
3. Wiseman’s Choice, Kevin Krigger
Race 4 7 F Class N5&6 M/F, Jockey
1. Irie Ites, Kerwin John
2. War, Christian Soto
3. Bottom Belly, Natanael Puello
Race 5 1-1/16M Class I-5, Jockey
1. Big Thunder Reflec, Elmo Barnes
2. El Rollo, Junior Inirio
3. Russian Way, Kerwin John
Race 6 1M Class I-3&4, Jockey
1. Heats on Fire, Kerwin John
1. Black Machine, Jesus Guadelupe
3. Charlie Cho, Kevin Krigger
Race 7 5F Open Race
1. WonderIfIamSpecial, Elmo Barnes
2. Beautiful Move, Kerwin John
3. Destiny’s Arrival, Angel Vierra
Race 9 6F Open Race, Jockey
1. Fate Takes A Hand, Kevin Krigger
2. Cuyani Waters, Junior Inirio
3. Tax Masters, Angel Rivera
Race 13 2F Class H, Jockey
1. Phar Lap, Alphonso Claudio
2. Sativa, Jesus Guadelupe
3. Empress Fortune, Junior Inirio