The Internacional Clasico del Caribe, or Caribbean Derby, is better known Stateside for the jockeys that have won it rather than for the horses. Rosemary Homeister Jr. won in 2001, Cornelio Velasquez won in 2003 and 2004, and Fernando Jara won in 2006. Their mounts were: Alexia (2001), Cafajeste (2003), Spago (2004), and Ay Papa (2006), not exactly household names here although well known in their respective countries. This year’s race, on Sunday at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico, may change all that because a Venezuelan 3-year-old filly by the name of Bambera who’s won 15 of 17 starts, with the local reputation of a Rachel Alexandra or Zarkava, is headed to America for a 2010 campaign. For Venezuelans, the Clasico del Caribe is viewed as just a pit stop for her on the way here. Facing and defeating males has been her MO, and you can catch a video of her last race in Venezuela here.
The Clasico is contested at 1800 meters (about 9 furlongs) on dirt. Bambera’s last start in the Simon Bolivar was over 2400 meters (about 12 furlongs), so she’ll have to cut back significantly while facing international competition abroad. Venezuelan form has been internationally insignificant for the most part since Canonero II won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1971, but from the reputation that precedes her Bambera may be something special. She’s by the Sadler’s Wells stallion Water Poet, which makes her from the same sire line as Rachel Alexandra, and like Rachel Bambera has speed to dictate races. Like Medaglia d’Oro, sire of Rachel, and El Prado, the Sadler’s Wells sire of Medaglia d’Oro, Water Poet has made a name for himself in Venezuela — he’s a multiple champion sire there — by getting dirt runners.
Cornelio Velasquez and Eibar Coa will have mounts this year, plus Houston Astros star Carlos Lee will be represented in the race by the Panamanian Fidelito — listed under the ownership of the appropriately named Haras Los Sluggers. Lee, a native of Panama, is part owner of the colt, and is one of many Latin MLB stars who’ve dabbled in racing.
Click here for the past performances of the Clasico del Caribe (Race #7).