Slop-Loving Watchmon Wins Jamaica 'Cap

(from Belmont Park report)
Rain ruined what looked to be a competitive Jamaica Handicap, a grade II event for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf. The race was switched to the sloppy main track and all but three of the nine entered were scratched.

Fortunately for trainer Patrick Reynolds, however, one of the runners was one of his charges, Paul P. Pompa Jr.'s Watchmon, who was entered only if the race was on the main track. And with a love for off-tracks and only two others to worry about, the Maria's Mon colt won like a favorite should and posted a 1 ¾-length victory in the slop over Crown Point. Both Watchmon and Crown Point were entered for the main track only.

Watchmon stayed close to Woodlander through splits of :24 2/5; :47 1/5; 1:11 1/5 and 1:36 over the sloppy/sealed track, easily taking the lead as Woodlander wilted. Crown Point mounted a rally, but was already under a drive before jockey Javier Castellano asked Watchmon for any effort.

Watchmon came home in 1:49 1/5, for his fourth win in nine starts and his third in four tries over a wet surface. More importantly, he grabbed $180,000 of the $300,000 purse.

"This was an easy race for him," Castellano said. "He had something left in the tank."

That next start figures to be the $250,000-added Discovery Handicap (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 29 – the same day that Belmont Park will host the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

"Since Saratoga, he has really picked up his game," Reynolds said of Watchmon, who returned $3.10. "You can call on him at any given time and put him where you need him. He's an intelligent racehorse. I'm, lucky I've got an owner that allows me to do what I need to do.

"We called an audible at the last minute. It was one for the good guys; it just worked out. We had the Discovery in mind on the 29th and it is still not ruled out. Meanwhile, that's 300,000 `skippies' they hung up there. It was too much to pass."

(Chart, Equibase)