03/03/2002 12:00AM

Blast of Storm takes Barbados Gold Cup

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Blast of Storm, an Irish-bred who is based in Barbados, outdueled North American invader Warleigh to become the first horse to capture three consecutive runnings of the $100,000 (U.S.) Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup.

An enthusiastic of more than 12,000 was on hand at Garrison Savannah Racetrack for the Gold Cup, which is one of the highlights of the Barbadian racing calendar.

Owned by Sally Arbib and trained by reigning Barbados champion Bill Marshall, Blast of Storm was reserved off the early pace of Nicodemus, angled off the rail turning for home, and proved best by three-quarters of a length under regular rider Jono Jones.

Warleigh, a 4-year-old owned by Barbadian residents Eugene and Laura Melnyk, worked his way through traffic early and had looked like a winner after launching a three-wide move under Canadian champion rider Patrick Husbands about five-sixteenths of a mile out.

Talkaboutlucky, horse of the year in Barbados last season, ended 2.75 lengths back in third. Storm Hunter, Nicodemus, Dance Numerous, Wahoo, Adawar, Airy Hill, Another Decision, New Millennium and Skeete's Bay, who was pulled up, completed the order of finish.

Airy Hill and Skeete's Bay also are owned by the Melnyks and based in North America.

Blast of Storm, under co-highweight of 129 pounds, finished the 1 1/8 miles of turf in 1:48.60 to equal the record he set in the 2001 Gold Cup. Jones, who like Husbands was based at Woodbine last year, and Marshall also were completing the Gold Cup hat-trick.

The Barbados Gold Cup was simulcast to North America for the first time, with Fair Grounds acting as the wagering hub.

Blast of Storm, 6-year-old horse who was far from disgraced while keeping good company in a three-race campaign at Woodbine last year, returned $13.80 as the third choice in the U.S. wagering. The quinella returned $18.80, the exactor $44.40, the trifecta $421 and the superfecta $13,179.