The Hideyuki Takaoka-trained three-year-old filly by Your Song mixed her form at her first five runs last year, but did give a peek of her ability this season, especially at her last start in a Kranji Stakes D race over 1400m when she nearly made all under apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen.
Taking a leaf from that run, Takaoka and Wong stuck to the same battle plan in Sunday’s $50,000 Class 4 race even if she was being stepped up to the mile for the first time, and was reverting to Polytrack – a surface that produced little for her at two tests.
Jumping smartly from her barrier No 1, Caribbean Lady ($31) took up the running without much fuss, getting away with fairly cheap sectionals throughout – just like at her last start.
With the naked eye, it was not noticeable, but Wong later reported the filly was not as tractable as she appeared to be in transit, but she did have a lot of petrol in the tank when they straightened up.
Save for favourite Gentlemen Agreement (John Sundradas) who was too far back buried away on the rails to be of any threat, at least three or four swoopers could come knocking Caribbean Lady off her perch halfway up the straight.
It was Foresto (Syahir Abdul) who launched the strongest challenge when he arrived on the scene at the 250m, but Caribbean Lady repelled it easily, hanging on by three parts of a length.
Verizon (Marc Lerner) powered home late to settle for third place another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 39.69secs for the Polytrack mile.
Takaoka said he was reasonably confident Caribbean Lady could go one better even when risen to 1600m, provided she can dictate terms at her own leisure.
“She just ran the same way she did at her last start over 1400m. I felt she could see out the mile if she gets a soft lead,” said the Japanese handler.
“I told CC she should be able to get a breather with two turns. They came at her, but she fought hard, and the light weight (51.5kgs) also helped.”
Actually, it was not from just Caribbean Lady’s past racing pattern that Takaoka derived some confidence for Sunday’s run.
“I trained her mother Caribbean Moon here at Kranji. She was no champion but she did win three races, including one over 1800m,” said Takaoka.
“The Suzuka Racing Stable (who owns Caribbean Lady) owned Caribbean Moon and sent her to Australia for breeding, together with Better Life (Takaoka’s champion mare whom Suzuka also owned).
“Both were later sold after they foaled four to five times, and Caribbean Lady is the first one to win here.”
Takaoka also prepares Better Life’s three-year-old son Excellent Moon, who is by Excelebration, and who, however, has yet to win or place at Kranji in four starts.
Breeding is clearly not an exact science. Going on dam’s ability, Excellent Moon would have been on his genes the more forward of the two progeny, but it’s Caribbean Lady who has opened her account first.
Wong said the plan to get Caribbean Lady to secure her first win was well executed, but he was not having such a good time of things down the backstraight.
“From the good draw, she jumped well and unlike her last run, she got there by herself,” said the two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey.
“I was a bit worried when she started to hang off the rails. She was drifting around down the back.
“But coming to the top of the straight, I still had plenty of horse underneath me. Luckily, she kept going strongly to the line.”
Thanks to her second place and third place earned before, Caribbean Lady has, with that first success, made around $45,000 in prizemoney for the Suzuka Racing Stable.