Barbadian Antonio Whitehall injected in a new twist into an already tense jockeys race at Assiniboia Downs when he rode a double on Wednesday’s seven-race card.
Jamaican Richard Mairs entered the day on top of the standings on 36 wins but won just once as Whitehall’s brace moved him second on 35 wins.
Former leading rider Alex Cruz, who was the firm favourite for the title, has 34 wins but has been ruled out for the reason of the season after suffering collarbone and rib injuries during a recent morning work out.
It means that Mairs and Whitehall are now set for a thrilling duel in the remaining three weeks of the campaign.
Whitehall, the reigning Assiniboia Downs champion, had to wait until race five before he could land his first score when he carried My Kinda Gal to a narrow victory over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares going seven furlongs.
Luvuryan and Smiley Briley duelled for the lead throughout the half before Whitehall brought his seven-year-old chestnut mare from a stalking position to clash with Smiley Briley late on and win on the head bob.
Whitehall wasted little time in returning to the winners’ enclosure when he piloted 7-1 chance Two Steps Faster to victory by a neck over the three-year-olds and upward in race six.
In a 5-½ furlong sprint, Lil Miss Zak made the early running until Whitehall brought the four-year-old filly Two Steps Faster with a late run to win by a neck.
His Barbadian counterpart Renaldo Cumberbatch also stole some of the headlines when he rode a double to keep alive his outside chances.
Cumberbatch opened his account in a 4-½ furlong dash in race two, partnering 4-1 bet Be My Macho Man to victory by a neck over the two-year-old maidens.
And he followed up over six furlongs in race four, steering the six-year-old bay mare Kinahora to a convincing 3-¼ length victory over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares.
Cumberbatch is fourth in the standings on 28 wins, just one ahead of Jamaican Chavion Chow.