Anthony Freedman’s sprinter Santa Ana Lane under Mark Zahra added a fourth Group 1 to his resume after a storming win in the $1m, Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday, leaving a fine sprint field in his wake.
After finding the heavy conditions in The Everest at Randwick too tough, for a sixth nevertheless, Santa Ana Lane was back on top of the ground on the Good 4 track at Flemington and this suited just fine.
Santa Ana Lane and Mark Zahra have the lead, picture Quentinjlang.com
Zahra was content to settle back from barrier five and watch as Invincible Star and Stephen Baster led up the middle of the track followed by Fleet Review (USA) and James McDonald and the $2.90 favourite, The Everest winner Redzel and Kerrin McEvoy. US Navy Flag (USA) and Ryan Moore were briefly in the leading group racing closest to the outside rail. Stablemate Spirit Of Valor (USA) and Wayne Lordon were alongside Redzel to his outside.
Zahra still waited at the 300m and by now he was tracking Redzel. Closing on the 200m US Navy Flag could not go on with the effort and is clearly not the horse he was winning the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket. In mid-field Kementari’s run was extinguished when his line was crossed by Pierata and the tiring Invincible Star.
In Her Time and Corey Brown were in the middle of the track closer to the inside rail with no one inside them and the mare took over the lead after passing Jungle Cat (IRE) with William Buick and Pierata. Redzel further out towards the stands was at his limit and Zahra then pounced with Santa Ana Lane.
Zahra sent Santa Ana Lane forward from the 250m and they made up ground quickly on the outside of Redzel and between Spirit Of Valor. Then they had the measure of Pierata and Jungle Cat with In Her Time next . That was accomplished with 20m to run. The margin at the line was a neck, with the win safer than the margin implies.
In Her Time (Time Thief) and Brown had a margin of 1 1/2L on Pierata (Pierro) and Jungle Cat (Iffraaj) who dead-heated for third. There was 3 /4L to Redzel in fifth with Spirit Of Valor in sixth.
The time was 1.08.66 with the final 600m in 33.85. Santa Ana Lane paid $10.00 on fixed odds and $10.80 on the tote.
At the line, picture Quentinjlang
“I was just saying, it was a shame the way Sydney (The Everest) panned out. I thought he was spot on for Sydney. He just didn’t get his chance there. This was not an afterthought, but we were always a bit dubious about him up the straight because he had had had a couple of failures," said Freedman.
“Mark rode him really well and it all opened up for him. He was very strong late and he has had a great 12 or 18 months. We will put him away and look to what we can do next year.
“There’s only one way to ride him and whenever he wins, he’s going to win very late. I told Mark that. I said ‘don't panic’. I said, ‘you know you’re only going to win in the last 50 metres’. That’s what happened. It is a nice consolation for The Everest," he said.
“Anthony Freedman gave me instructions that not many trainers would give," said Zahra.
“It was just great talking to Anthony before the race because he had the same idea as me: just let the race unfold, if you win its going to be (in) the last bit. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Don’t worry about pushing and shoving. It gives you great confidence when a trainer says that.
“I had to be really patient and I went from thinking ‘which way can I go’ to all of a sudden ‘I’m in front a bit far out here’, so I was waiting for something to run me down. But gee he ran well.
“When I got the gap, he was on one rein as we were going down. I just thought, I don’t know whether he was going to pick up? But when I gave him a little squeeze, he just gave me that feel. I just needed Redzel to move a little bit over for me, and he did, and away he went.
“The horse is just flying. It worked out for us,” he said.
US Navy Flag finished 13th after being eased back by Moore and was found to be lame in his off-fore. Brave Smash (JPN), the winner of the Group 1 Manikato Stakes was eighth.
Santa Ana Lane is a six-year-old by Lope de Vega out of the Fastnet Rock mare Fast Fleet and this was his ninth win from 31 starts. With six placings he has earned stakes of $3,473,961 for the connections who race under the William Street Syndicate banner.
Santa Ana Lane, picture Quentinjlang.com
VRC Sprint Classic, photo finish picture Racing.com