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  Horse Racing

'Miracle' - the greatest Derby winner

Griffiths rates Legal Light

Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer

In this its 50th anniversary year, Caymanas Park has seen many Derby winners who have gone on to achieve greatness.

Leading all-time jockey Winston 'Fanna' Griffiths has ridden a record 11 Derby winners and seeks No. 12 today when he rides the ante-post favourite BRUCEONTHELOOSE for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny. Both have teamed up to win eight derbies.

But even Griffiths was hard-pressed to name his favourite Derby winner, despite having ridden six who have gone on to win the Triple Crown, namely, ROYAL DAD (1981) for trainer Kenneth Mattis, as well as LIU CHIE POO (1988), THE VICEROY (1989), MILLIGRAM (1992), I'MSATISFIED (2000) and the filly SIMPLY MAGIC (2002), all for Feanny.Griffiths also won the Derby aboard PRINCE CONSORT (1986), DISTINCTLY NATIVE (1990), A KING IS BORN (2003), DISTINCTLY IRISH (2004) and THE BOMBER (2007).

The five-time champion jockey felt it would be imprudent to put one over the other.

"All delivered on the day and that's what the Derby is all about. The horse only gets one chance to achieve Derby glory and while the jockey can finish second one year and come back to win the race another year, a Derby victory is forever special to the connections of the horse," he explained.

Although passing on his favourite Derby winner, Griffiths was quick to single out the best horse he has ridden - LEGAL LIGHT - who won the 1977 Derby with Fitzroy Glespie riding for the late Hall of Fame trainer, Allan 'Billy' Williams.

Achieve greatness

Significantly, LEGAL LIGHT, who went on to achieve greatness in the post-Derby years, was trained by Williams during his three-year-old career and by another Hall of Famer, Kenneth Mattis, from four onwards.

Owned and bred by Jack Ashenheim, LEGAL LIGHT was widely regarded as the greatest Derby achiever for close to 30 years, thanks to 27 career wins from 53 starts, winning mostly under heavy imposts. But along came MIRACLE MAN in 2005 and his achievements since winning the Derby that year have eclipsed that of LEGAL LIGHT in my book.

Standing more than 18 hands, MIRACLE MAN was trained by Allan 'Billy' Williams for popular owner Joseph 'Fudgie' Duany, who doubles as the breeder.

In a truly distinquished racing career which saw him win back-to-back 'Horse of the Year' awards, MIRACLE MAN won everything in sight and was unbeaten in 2006.

The Law Of The Sea-Hya offspring has the distinction of being the only Jamaican horse to win an international race, scoring a decisive but famous victory in the Confraternity Classic in Puerto Rico in December, 2006.

MIRACLE MAN was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Thoroughbred Racing on Thursday night. From only 24 career starts, he won 16 races (14 in grade one company), was second five times and third twice for a record $16.33 in stakes.

Despite the exploits of LEGAL LIGHT, ROYAL DAD, THE VICEROY, A KING IS BORN, PRINCE CONSORT, REPRIEVE, RAMESES and SKA, MIRACLE MAN, by virtue of his remarkable record of achievement, is truly the greatest Derby winner in 50 years of racing at Caymanas Park.

# Getting to know your best bet

BETTING on Derby Day should be fun for regular punters who know how to wheel and deal their way at the betting windows at Caymanas Park, its off-track betting parlours and with the bookmakers, some of whom are actually sponsoring tomorrow's 12-race card - the United Bookmakers Association.

There are other bettors who would love to stake a wager, probably because they are attracted to a horse's name, just for the day.

However, terms such as exacta, quiniela, trifecta, superfecta, hi-five, rolling triple, super-6, pick-9 and the likes, not to mention the bookmakers' round-the-clock, 'two-from', 'three-from' and a host of other wagers, would make the non-bettor quiver.

Learning process

It's a learning process which basically starts with a simple win or place bet and goes everywhere from there.

Here's how to stake a win or place bet on Derby Day.

A ticket costs $40, that's for those interested in win, place, quiniela, exactas and rolling triples. However, exotic bets, such as trifectas, superfectas and the likes are calculated at $5 per bet and the cost depends on how many horses are put in the bet.

A win is a win, that's first past the post. Place means first, second or third, thereby giving the bettor more chances to collect some money at the window, as opposed to a win.

However, place often pays less than win because more persons bet into what is called a win pool, which is what dictates the dividend paid at the end of each race.

What is a pool? All monies wagered at Caymanas Park and its off-track betting parlours go into their respective pools.

Therefore, all the bets mentioned above, offered by Caymanas Track Limited, each has its own pool.

Breaking it down, all tickets sold in a race goes into their respective pools - after government taxes and the promoter's fixed percentage are deducted.

The remainder makes up the pool, which is what goes to punters as dividends. It is from this pool that 'odds' are decided.

Odds indicate the number of tickets sold on each horse, giving bettors an indicator as to the likely winner of a race, as the most fancied horse would sell more tickets, hence the odds 'against' him winning or placing would be less than the others.

Conversely, the odds of the lesser-fancied horses winning would be greater than the favourite.

Therefore, a favourite would be at short odds (against him winning) such as 2-1, and an outsider at long odds of 99-1, which means his chances of winning is less than the favourite.

What is 2-1? That's simply getting twice the money wagered if your chosen horse wins. Therefore, a 2-1 winner would return $80 plus the original $40 staked, $120.

An overwhelming favourite, 1-9, which means almost everybody backed a particular horse, could result in bettors getting back their stake without additional money because there was none going against the favourite.

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