By Julio Guimaraes
From the racetrack where Invasor emerged, from one of the smallest countries in South America, from the nation where horse racing is lived with unusual passion, a new winner of the 2,400m Grade 1 Gran Premio José Pedro Ramírez will emerge on 6 January. Uruguay belongs to Part 2 of the Blue Book of the International Cataloging Standards and approximately 1,500 horses are born there each year. Maroñas is its central racetrack and in the first week of every year, horse racing turns into a celebration with a festivallike atmosphere.
No one works in Uruguay on 6 January. According to Christian beliefs, the feast of The Three Kings is celebrated widely in the country and part of the festivities engages the nation’s immense racegoing population, drawing them to Maronas for one of the biggest days of racing on the annual calendar.
Uruguay’s most valuable race is just a week away and is waiting to dispense its purse of $133,158 that will be distributed among the best and it is speculated that once again the race will feature some of the best horses from the region. Among them, Prelude Rye will try to defend the title he won by a half length from Antonio Cintra Pereira’s Olympic Harvard last year.
Pereira has been training in Dubai and had a third in the race last year as well. Atletico El Culano, who is currently in the employ of UAE rookie Julio Olascoaga was ran twice this term, including in last week’s Listed The Entisar in which he finished sixth in a field of seven.
ONWARD AND UPWARDS?
Coming back to Prelude Rye and there is something he has in common with the erstwhile great Invasor. Both were born in Argentina and triumphed in Uruguay. Invasor then went on to bigger things and toured the world, winning the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic and the Group 1 Dubai World Cup. Prelude Rye might have what it takes to achieve the same.
A horse with a big heart, Prelude Rye has always given his everything and in the race last year this Pablo Gonzalez trained son of Catcher In The Rye laid down all he had when producing an electrifying run that was not for the faint-hearted. This year his final prep for the race saw him finish third behind Join Battle and Her Majesty, both of whom he will face again at Maronas in a weeks’ time.
His trainer Gonzalez said: “We will arrive at Maronas in very good condition. I think the horse has matured and has a lot of experience in 2400m races.” Residerado, the surprise winner of the Uruguayan Derby, is also expected to start. But the Grade 1 José Pedro Ramírez will not be the only focal point of the day, which also hosts the Grade 1 Ciudad de Montevideo for mares over 2000 meters on dirt.
Uruguay is a country bordering Brazil and many horses travel from there to compete at Maroñas and this year that will be the case for Queen of Clubs, who won the Fillies Juvenile Triple Crown at Cristal Racetrack in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). She has shone in nine of her eleven races. Among the support races on 6 January are a number of contests for sprinters and milers. Girona Fever is the fastest mare in Uruguay with victories in 12 of her 14 runs and she will start as favourite to defend her title in the 1,000m Grade 3 Gran Premio Maroñas.