Nipster wins St Leger - foils stablemate’s Triple Crown bid

By Lance Whittaker  September 26, 2020

 

Michael Bernard’s colt Nipster shattered the champion owner’s top horse Wow Wow’s Triple Crown bid in delivering a 31-1 upset victory in Saturday’s Jamaica St Leger at Caymanas Park.

Ridden from off the pace by Linton Steadman for trainer Gary Subratie, Nipster swept to the front inside the final furlong and won the 10-furlong Classic by a length and a quarter over his stablemate and 1-2 favourite Wow Wow in a fast time of two minutes 06.00.

“It’s a bittersweet moment I must say,” a smiling Bernard said. “I really expected and wanted Wow Wow to win so he could continue on his Triple Crown journey, but it’s a wonderful feeling,” he quickly added after watching his two three-year-olds snatch first and second in the JA$3 million (US$21,000) event.

The 20-1 bet Oneofakind was a further half-length behind in third and the even-money second favourite Mahogany struggled to fourth.

Out of the starting gates in pouring rain, 1000 Guineas and Oaks runner-up Another Affair, one of four Subratie entries, shot to the front with Wow Wow, the 99-1 bet Green Gold Rush and King Arthur (8-1) tracking.

Another Affair quickened to lead down the backstretch by seven lengths followed by the 2019 Champion two-year-old Wow Wow and King Arthur racing as a team. Green Gold Rush was fourth and as they hit the six-furlong marker, Mahogany, who had entered the backstretch in 10th spot, gained rapidly toward the lead and moved into fifth spot.

Nipster was still not among the front six at the half-mile as Another Affair’s lead shrunk to just over two lengths with Wow Wow poised to pounce while King Arthur and Mahogany closed in to challenge.

Wow Wow’s rider Robert Halledeen, anxious to keep the 2000 Guineas winner on the Triple Crown path, flew past Another Affair leaving the three-furlong marker with Mahogany on his heels and Wow Wow held command at the top of the homestretch.

Heading to the eighth pole, Wow Wow still led and appeared to be safely repelling Mahogany’s challenge while Oneofakind -- widest of all -- looked threatening and Nipster suddenly appeared with a sprightly rail run.

In a flash, Nipster collared Wow Wow and moved clear with the ecstatic Steadman standing tall in the saddle even before the finish as the colt logged his fifth win in 14 lifetime starts.

“From half mile out I saw he (Nipster) had a whole heap of gas that could last out and become a winner,” Steadman said after his second St Leger triumph.

For Steadman, who had also won the 2016 St Leger with Bigdaddykool, it was his first time aboard Nipster in a race but developed a connection with the Casual Trick-Nippit bred colt after two exercise gallops aboard him.

“The horse is an easy horse to ride, quiet and very easy to deal with. He is cool and kind and (as long as) a horse is cool and kind that’s a whole heap of horse,” Steadman added.

Nipster clocked the fastest St Leger win since War Zone’s race record 2:05.2 in 1996 while foiling Wow Wow’s Triple Crown bid.

“We are disappointed (for Wow Wow) but I am happy for the owner because he believed in the horse,” was Subratie’s take on Nipster denying Wow Wow the chance at becoming the third Triple Crown champion in four years – after She’s a Maneater (2017) and Supreme Soul (2019) -- at Caymanas Park. 

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