Victory for Dominican Republic

No-one knows more about patience in horse racing better than the Dominican Republic. For years they have been committed to enhancing the quality of their breeding programs and for over forty years they have unsuccessfully entered their horses in the Caribbean Derby, or Clasico del Caribe. This magnificent Latin American Grade 1 stakes race was inaugurated in 1966 and takes place annually at the Camarero Racecourse in Puerto Rico, and this year it took place on Saturday, 6 December 2008. It was one of the most memorable Clasico del Caribe events for the Dominican Republic, as Sicotico finished in first position, to the joy of his breeder, jockey, trainer, owners and country.

The Camarero Racecourse was host to the Caribbean Derby this past weekend, which is a horse racing event for both colts and fillies that are three years of age. The countries that participate in the Caribbean Derby are the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago and Columbia. With a purse of $300 000, there is no richer horse racing event in Latin America and each of the countries send their top horses to participate. This year, however, it was the Dominican Republic’s chance to celebrate.

By the time the field of competitors reached the final three furlongs, it seemed that the race might belong to the Puerto Rican filly, Defensora, as she sped along towards the wire. But Sicotico surprised spectators as he gathered up his reserve of stamina and speed to surge ahead, with Cristal de Oro right behind him. Sicotico crossed the finish line in a time of 1:52:54, with Cristal de Oro in second and Defensora in third position.

Winning jockey, Joel Rosario, could not hold back the tears as he spoke to the press after the race, saying: "This is a matter of pride and gratefulness. Winning this race for the first time for my country and my fellow countrymen has made all the sacrifice worth it. I'm tired but extremely happy and proud." Sicotico’s breeder, Dr. Angel B. Contreras, was also filled with emotion as he saw the performance delivered by Sicotico as a personal victory: “It has been a long journey for our breeding industry after many years of sacrifice and a lot of perseverance we have finally come through." Sicotico has now won seventeen of his eighteen career starts, and will forever be the pride of the Dominican Republic.

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