Newly-licensed trainer Leticia Dragon began her career with a bang on New Year’s Day when she won her first race with only her second career runner, long-priced outsider Caiyaya.
Caiyaya (Saifudin Ismail) gives trainer Leticia Dragon her first win at her very
first day in the office. Picture Singapore Turf Club.
Dragon, who honed her craft assisting her just-retired father Douglas for seven years, became the first woman to be licensed at Kranji after she was allocated stables last November.
Used to leading in numerous winners for her father, the former air stewardess was however beaming with a different kind of glow when she strode to the winner’s circle as the new head of the stable, with her proud parents right by her side. Caiyaya was running in her name - “LA Dragon”.
“When Caiyaya hit the front, it was an amazing moment of euphoria,” said an elated Dragon. “My dad gave me a hug and a high-five after we won. It was a great moment!
“This is a dream start and hopefully there’ll be more winners to come!”
Saddling seven runners at her first day at the office, Dragon was more expected to get off to a flier with her first runner, US-bred debutant Arrow To Post, but the latter came up short by half-a-length to Dragon Spirit in Race 2, the Prosperity Stakes (1200m).
Friendless in the betting, Dragon’s second runner Caiyaya was one of the least fancied to give the 37-year-old trainer her ice-breaker, but under an inspired ride by jockey Saifudin Ismail, the Colombia five-year-old got up in the last stride to beat Affirmation (Tan Wei Li) by a short head in the $55,000 Happiness 2012 Handicap, a Class 4 Division 1 race over 1400m on turf.
Dragon was on the other hand not all that surprised by the $396 roughie’s victory, his sixth from 31 starts for the New Wing Stable.
“On his last run I gave him a small chance. He finished in a 1000m race on Poly very strongly,” she said.
“I told Saifudin to keep in sixth position and let him come home. I was worried about the field which was pretty strong and the fact he does not really have proven form on grass.
“But he is a tough horse and Saifudin rode him very well. It was him who won on him first-up.
“I’d like to thank the owners who have been with us from Day 1.”