The best of the native bred three-year-old fillies will hold centre stage at Caymanas Park today in the 77th running of the Caribbean Choice Jamaica Oaks over 2000 metres and given the presence of a top heavy favourite in NUCLEAR AFFAIR, victory for her should be a mere formality.Offering a total purse of $3 million, this the season’s third classic has attracted 10 starters, including the first eight past the post in the April 9 Post to Post 1000 Guineas, which saw the howling favourite, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, powering home by 9 1/4 lengths from A THOUSAND STARS and SORRENTINO’S STAR in a fast 1:39.2 for a mile.NUCLEAR AFFAIR was then ridden by three-time champion, Dane Nelson, who left the island last week for another riding stint in Canada. Her connections have called up big-race jockey Shane Ellis, the reigning champion, to replace Nelson, who will be back to ride her in the derby.Unbeaten in three starts this season, NUCLEAR AFFAIR has already stamped herself as an exceptional three-year-old filly and Subratie is looking beyond the Oaks to the June 25 derby where she will come face to face with the colts.GLORIOUS UNCERTAINTY”She has everything in her favour today, having beaten seven of her opponents in the Guineas. But she still has to go out there and execute for racing is a sport of glorious uncertainty,” said Subratie, who is seeking his first Oaks win, having finished second with the 99-1 outsider ZACAPA some years ago.”She has done everything asked of her this season and I was particularly pleased with how she carried herself at exercise last Sunday morning in a six-furlong gallop, looking pretty easy in 1:14.4.”Nuclear Affair can do anything … she can run with the pace or come from behind if the situation demands and I am confident she will deliver for her deserving owner Michros,” he added.”It is only left to be seen whether my other runner, Golden Glory, can complete the exacta after finishing fifth in the Guineas. She did not have much luck in running, however, and my hope is that she can beat the runner-up, A Thousand Stars, and the third horse, Sorrentino’s Star, for second, with Ameth Robles who rode Zacapa taking the ride,” said the second generation trainer.For me, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, a chestnut filly by Nuclear Wayne out of Commandra Affair, bred by her owner, is so much better than her opponents that it will take an act of God to deny her today.The Wayne DaCosta-trained A THOUSAND STARS, a fast improving sort, should follow her home, again.Other firm fancies on the 12-race programme are CAMPESINO to repeat in the third race for open allowance horses; last year’s Oaks winner, MOM’S STUDENT, in the fourth; SOUND OF MIRACLE in the fifth; RUNAWAY GAL in the sixth for the Ricochet Cup; PROLIFIC PRINCESS in the seventh; and LORD EQUUS in the ninth.
GOALS GALORE Kingston College goalkeeper Jahvanni Grant came up trumps with three saves as the North Street-based school came from behind in a penalty shoot-out to stun defending champion Wolmer’s 4-3 after the teams battled to a pulsating 2-2 draw in an ISSA-FLOW Walker Cup quarter-final at the Constant Spring field yesterday. Alphonso Gooden fired Wolmer’s in front against the runner-of-play in the 16th minute, but the North Street school equalised through Rashawn Mackison five minutes later and then went in front after 60 minutes courtesy of Omar Thompson’s deflected strike. But Rivaldo English sent the game into extra time when he capitalised on an error from Grant to put the ball into an empty net. In the shootout, KC missed their first two kicks, while Wolmer’s netted theirs. But after KC scored their next two, Grant stopped two straight kicks and then in sudden death, he saved a penalty from opposing goalkeeper, Jemison, to clinch the win. Both coaches believed Grant made the difference. “I know Jahvanni (Grant) from previous school (Wolmer’s), I know he is a good shot-stopper when it comes to penalties. I needed the first save from him and that would have boosted his confidence. When I saw Jemison step up, I said: Why is Jemison taking a penalty when Jahvanni knows everything about him as both were once together at Wolmer’s? Right there, I knew he would have stopped it,” Ludlow Bernard the KC coach said. Wolmer’s coach, Vassell Reynolds, also thought Grant’s knowledge of his former teammates played a big role in the shoot-out. “The KC ‘keeper’ knew my players, and I think that ended up making a big difference,” he said.