Owner Eugene Melnyk goes for his third Sandy Lane Gold Cup on Saturday, March 5 as his recent claim Safety Zone heads a field of 12 (plus one reserve entrant) for the $200,000 (in Barbados funds; US$98,224) event at about 1 1/8 miles on the turf at the Garrison Savannah near Bridgetown, Barbados,
Melnyk, a Canadian who lives and works in Barbados, won the race in 2004 with Kathir and last year with his hombred Sterwins.
Safety Zone, a 7-year-old son of King Cugat-Open View, by Southern Halo, won the Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine last October in his first start since being claimed by Melnyk and trainer Mark Casse for Can$40,000. The gelding has raced twice since the Labeeb, winning a starter allowance race on the Tampa Bay Downs turf in January and most recently finishing third in a similar event.
Patrick Husbands, a three time Gold Cup winner who hails from Barbados, will be on board Safety Zone.
Safety Zone has a formidable rival in Silver Oaks Stable LLC and M and G Stable’s Grand Cash, the first Barbados Gold Cup starter for trainer Wesley Ward.
A multiple stakes winning son of Belong to Me -Splasha, by Twining, Grand Cash was claimed for $25,000 on Nov. 27 when he won a 7 1/2 furlong turf race at Calder. The chestnut 5-year-old won his first and only start for Ward on Jan. 6 at Gulfstream in a $50,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on turf with an 89 Beyer Speed Figure. Jeffrey Sanchez ships in for the mount.
Returning for another run at the Gold Cup is Barbados stalwart Apostle, third to Sterwins last year, and Bad Action, fifth in last year’s running and winner of the grade III Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands in 2009. Previously trained by Todd Pletcher, Bad Action is now based on the island of St. Kitts which holds racing at Beaumont Park.
Earlier this week Melnyk, Owner Sir David Seale and trainer Stephen Bynoe lodged an appeal with the Barbados Turf Club to disallow the horses from St. Kitts (including Al Portador, Anansi and Atabaa’s Pride, entrants in the Sandy Lane Spa Sprint) from competing at the Garrison Savannah.
The trio said the fact that the horses are coming from an unrecognized racing meeting and that it could pose risks for the other horses in the race. A decision on the appeal, heard by four appellate stewards of the BTC, was deferred until later this month.
Post time for the Gold Cup is 5 p.m. (6 p.m. EST).