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‘Emperor’ to rule in Sunday’s feature

Published:Friday | December 8, 2023 | 12:08 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
EMPEROROFTHECATS (right),  ridden by Ramon Nepare, wins the Linval McFarlane Open allowance race over 1100 metres at Caymanas Park on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
EMPEROROFTHECATS (right), ridden by Ramon Nepare, wins the Linval McFarlane Open allowance race over 1100 metres at Caymanas Park on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

EMPEROROFTHECATS’ last speed gallop suggests he could steal Sunday’s six-furlong Ahwhofah Trophy from in front with 119lb if unbothered by GOD OF LOVE on the lead.

On exercise form, EMPEROROFTHECATS appears sharpest of the two speedsters, galloping six furlongs in 1:14.4 out the mile chute last Monday, signalling he is none the worse coming off a six-month break and raring to get loose on the lead should GOD OF LOVE struggle under topweight 126lb.

Trainer Carl Anderson has shown his intent with EMPEROROFTHECATS, calling in claiming rider Shavon Townsend, who won gate-to-wire aboard the four-year-old at six and a half furlongs in February, beating MONEY MONSTER and NUCLEAR NOON in 1:19.1.

EMPEROROFTHECATS has been looking great at exercise and could use his speed to get away from the seven-year-old pair of old warriors, DUKE and GOD OF LOVE, reporting from the wide draw at stall 11.

Though EMPEROROFTHECATS hasn’t raced since wiring rivals, including grade-one campaigner, RUNAWAY ALGO, at five furlongs straight late May, the lay-up has effectively given the four-year-old a get-out-of-jail card to race a level lower, having beaten open-allowance company when last out.

DUKE, last year’s Mouttet Mile runner-up, started the season on a high, but has not been able to reproduce that form since returning from a four-month break in October. For DUKE to be effective, the speedsters will have to run themselves into the ground, giving him a chance of pouncing in the stretch run.

Outsped in six outings on return, DUKE reports at his lightest since, 115lb, but appears to have naturally regressed with age, leaving him with too much ground to make up against younger and faster rivals in sprint events.

GOD OF LOVE will have a big say in how the pace unfolds. An overnight-allowance predator, GOD OF LOVE beat the level for the umpteenth time on July 1, flattening imported LURE OF LUCY in a lightning-fast 1:06.3 at five and a half furlongs. His next two races were decent efforts behind PERFECT BREW and SHE’S MY DESTINY, respectively, before being oddly outsped in back-to-back races at six furlongs.

Whether GOD OF LOVE’s connections were playing possum for his last two races is left to be seen. Despite getting up in age, GOD OF LOVE was still able to clock 1:06.3 in July, suggesting his last two runs could be him laying in wait for Sunday’s trophy.

Similar to DUKE, RACE CAR is a stalking sprinter but tends to also get caught too far off the pace, especially since returning from a six-month break in August.

BURLAP, a 14-1 winner at five furlongs straight two Saturdays past, returned to blaze five and a half furlongs in 1:06.3 at exercise last Monday. However, encountering overnight-allowance runners for the first time could be a baptism of fire for the three-year-old.