CANOVANAS, PUERTO RICO -- It was a hometown celebration for crowd of nearly 9,000 on Sunday as Puerto Rico finished first, placed second and also come in fourth in the 38th running of the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe at El Comandante Sunday night. A field of 12 represented Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in the Clasico, a race for 3-year-olds bred in countries belonging to the Caribbean horse racing confederation.
ESPN 2 will have a complete wrap-up of the richest weekend in Caribbean racing on Wire-to-Wire this Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.
The Sammy Garcia-trained Borrascoso, with jockey Alexis Feliciano up, was first across the finish line at odds of 8-to-1 for Puerto Rico, winning by a length over the previously undefeated Excelencia (14-0) from the Dominican Republic. Excelencia was later disqualified from second to sixth for interference in the stretch. That moved Puerto Rico's 21-1 longshot Shahid up from third to second. Mexico's Ruller Chief, that nation's 2004 2-year-old Horse of the Year, was placed third with Puerto Rico's top hope, the filly Co Animadora moving up to fourth.
Fifth place finisher, Mexico's Yack Lider, was ridden by U.S. riding champion John Velazquez. The Puerto Rico native made the foul claim against Excelencia. Water Music, the 2-1 race favorite from Venezuela, was never a factor and finished tenth.
Borrascoso was a popular winner. Fans poured out onto the muddy track and ran to the middle of the first turn to greet their hometown hero as the colt tried to make his way back to the winner's circle.
It was also an emotional win for owner Luis Archilla. His late father was a former President of the Clasico Confederation and a member of Puerto Rico's Racing Hall of Fame who had tried for many years to win the Clasico.
"I know my father was looking down through the clouds today and smiling for our victory," said Archilla. "This was the race he always wanted to win. I am so happy for him and for all of us."
This was Puerto Rico's first Clasico victory since 2000 when Bricola was moved up on a disqualification of Venezuela's My Own Business. The last Puerto Rican thoroughbred to win a Clasico was El Gran Nano in 1994.
Borrascoso was bred in Puerto Rico by Danny Maldonado and is a son of Fappiano's Star out of the Handy Man mare Maquinita.
On Saturday the Angel Cordero, Jr. Jockey Challenge, named for the Puerto Rican Hall of Fame jockey, was also held at El Comandante racetrack.
The champion of the three-race series was Joel Rosario of the Dominican Republic. Rosario totalled nine points after finishing second in all three races.
Additionally, there were three big stakes races for the Caribbean racing nations on Saturday, headlined by the $100,000 Confraternidad Cup for older horses. The Confraternidad produced the biggest upset of the weekend as Venezuela's Paso Real, at 8-1 odds, beat Mexican favorite Danzig Prince Race. Jockey Angel Castillo rode Paso Real for trainer Julio Ayala. This was the fourth consecutive year a thoroughbred from Venezuela has won the Confraternidad Cup.
In the Copa Velocidad, a sprint for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, it was another win for Venezuela as Furioso and jockey Emisael Jaramillo destroyed the field, winning by 7 1/2-lengths for trainer J.C. Avilla and the Stud de Daniela.
Three-year-old fillies were featured in the Copa Dama del Caribe at 1 1/16-miles. Puerto Rico's Leyenda Dorada, second choice at 9-5 odds, beat Venezuela's Somethingregal by a 1 3/4-lengths. John Bisano was the winning jockey for trainer Ramon Morales and owners J C Racing.