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August 22, 2014
Star Sport


Cardenas expects hot battle for jockeys' title

Orville Clarke, STAR Writer

Leading jockey Dick Cardenas chalked up four winners at Caymanas Park last Saturday to overtake reigning champion Dane Nelson in their private duel for the jockeys' championship, setting the stage for a battle royal in the months ahead.

The quiet Panamanian actually passed the post first aboard five of his mounts, only to see what would have been his third winner - HOLOGRAM SHADOW in the seventh race, suffering disqualification. His winners were CHALICE PIPE and STRIKING DISTANCE in the first two races, SACHIN at 7-2 in the eighth and CRUCIAL APPEAL at 6-1 in the closing race for the O&S Tack Room Trophy over 1300 metres.

Both jockeys started the day locked on 59 wins at the top of the standings, but thanks to Saturday's windfall, Cardenas (63 wins) has pulled three clear of Nelson (60 wins), who could only muster one winner on the card in BAD BOY JUSTIN.

With just over four months remaining in the season, it should be fireworks between them in a bid for the championship. Cardenas will be seeking his second title, having won it for the first time in 2011. Nelson, on the other hand, won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 and will be gunning for the hat-trick this season.

While Cardenas is happy to be in front at this stage, he recognises that the 'Warrior Chief', as Nelson is popularly called, will take it down to the wire.

"Nelson is a very good rider ... He's strong in close finishes and I have every respect for him. But my focus won't be on what he does but what I do to win another championship," he said.

"With the help of my agent Dwayne 'Hux' Grossett, we will remain focused on getting good rides across the board. Once I remain fit and avoid suspensions, I believe I (will) have a good shot at the title," added Cardenas, who is stable jockey for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta who could make the difference in the jockey's bid for the title with his powerful string.

Cardenas first rode in Jamaica in October 2008 and has come a long way since winning the Triple Crown aboard the Richard Azan-trained MARK MY WORK in 2010, as well as the Superstakes that year.

Significantly, Cardenas and Nelson are the last jockeys to have ridden six winners on a programme - Cardenas in September 2011 and Nelson a year later.

Cash in on the two champions in the remaining months of the season.

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