New Zealand news briefs

Pierina devastating in Travis Stakes

Cambridge galloper Pierina caused a major upset when she dashed clear in the final stages to score an emphatic victory in the feature event at Te Rapa, the Gr.2 Travis Stakes (2000m).

The underrated Savabeel six-year-old had been knocking on the door of another win with some eye-catching efforts of late, including producing a storming late run for third in the Listed Anzac Mile (1550m) at Awapuni last Sunday.

The Stephen Marsh-trained mare handled the quick back-up and step up to 2000m on Saturday with aplomb as she travelled sweetly beyond midfield for rider Michael McNab.

McNab tracked up behind runners approaching the home turn, before Pierina was gifted with a dream run along the rails at the top of the straight. McNab didn’t need a second invitation as he sent Pierina to the front and she cleared out to win by five lengths from the well-favoured pair of Travelling Light and Savy Yong Blonk.

Marsh, who has had his stable in red-hot form of late, was in awe of the performance turned in by his charge.

“That was a good field and she just destroyed them,” he said.

“She had just thrived so much off her last run and was ready to go a big race.

“When she came home from Awapuni, I said we’d just take her along quietly and see if we could get her to back-up this week.

“She did that well I had to give her a little breeze-up on Thursday morning, she was that full of herself.”

Marsh was also quick to give McNab plenty of kudos for his ground-saving ride.

“It was a tremendous ride as he never covered an inch of extra ground,” Marsh said.

“He only came around one horse and that was in the straight when he set her alight. 

“She is a mare that is really only just coming right, so to pick up a black type placing last week and top that off with a Group Two win is very special and a real boost to her broodmare prospects.

“I don’t have any plans for her, so we will just see how she comes through this and then catch up with connections to discuss whether we put her away or keep going for another run or two.”

Out of the Carnegie mare Quizzical, Pierina sports the colours of part-owner Lib Petagna, who races her in partnership with Greg Clarke.

She was purchased out of the Waikato Stud draft for $110,000 by Bloodstock agent Bruce Perry, on behalf of Petagna, during the Select Yearling sale at Karaka in 2016 and has now won five of her 29 starts and over $181,000 in prizemoney. 

Babylon Berlin all class in three-year-old feature

Speedy filly Babylon Berlin gave her rivals a galloping lesson when she led throughout to take out the Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa.

The Ben Foote-trained daughter of All Too Hard started at the microscopic odds of a $1.60 on the tote, but never gave her backers a moment of worry as she dictated terms to her age group rivals.

Rider Sam Collett, who was collecting her third stakes victory in the space of seven days, bounced Babylon Berlin to the front from an inside barrier and set up a solid speed as Eva James and De La Terre pressured her on the outer throughout.

Collett never panicked and pushed the go button at the top of the straight with Babylon Berlin putting a five-length break on the chasing pack. Despite starting to get tired in the closing stages she stuck to her guns to win comfortably from No Filter and Shezzacatch, who both made up good ground without ever looking like they would catch the flying favourite.

Foote had been pleased with the filly leading into the race and his confidence was rewarded with an emphatic performance.

“I was pretty confident as she had done well since her last run and her work had been very good,” he said.

“Sam has worked her out nicely now and this filly seems to have the knack of getting her rivals off the bridle without putting pressure on herself.

“She also runs on any sort of track and it was good to see the sting out today as that is perfect for most three-year-olds.”

Foote will now take a breath before deciding on where to go next with his charge.

“I don’t have any plans with her but looking ahead, we will be trying to secure a Group One win with her,” he said.

“If she could pick one up here in New Zealand then I think her future would lie in Australia after that.

“I do think she will be able to stretch out in distance, but I will be using the experience we got from when Travelling Light (stablemate) kicked off her four-year-old season, so we don’t overdo things with this filly.”

Raced by Foote along with Scott Williams, Kim Rogers, Sam Beatson, Cedric Foote and Andrew Stuart, Babylon Berlin is out of Fusaichi Pegasus mare You Can’t Say That, a daughter of What Can I Say who won eight races including six at stakes level.

Babylon Berlin has now won four of her 10 starts and over $102,000 in prizemoney.

Foote tried hard to make it a feature race double on the day for his boutique stable but had to settle for second in the Gr.2 Travis Stakes (2000m) with Travelling Light finishing runner-up to impressive winner Pierina. 

Turn The Ace goes one better than illustrious father

Strapping two-year-old Turn The Ace went one better than his multiple Group One winning sire Turn Me Loose when he made a winning debut at Te Rapa on Saturday.

The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained youngster made his first raceday appearance in the same 1200m contest that his sire had kicked off his career in back in 2014, where he finished close up in second.

The Windsor Park-based stallion went on to carve out a stellar racetrack career, winning seven of his 20 career starts including the Gr.1 New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas at Riccarton and the Gr.1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and Gr.1 Futurity (1400m) in Melbourne.

A product of the first crop by Turn Me Loose, Turn The Ace showed he had inherited plenty of his sire’s dash as he sat outside the speed for rider Craig Grylls, before cruising clear in the home straight to win comfortably by one and a quarter-lengths from the fast-finishing Divine Sava with Irish Red close-up in third.

Forsman was delighted with the result as the gelding has a special family connection after he purchased him for $30,000 out of the Cambridge Stud draft during the Book 1 sale at Karaka in 2018.

“Mum runs the syndicate and she put it all together with her and Dad taking a share in the horse,” Forsman said.

“It was a super run and we were quite confident although you just never know what you are coming up against and whether you are going to get the luck you need to win a race.

“He was quite keen and wanted to get on with things as Craig said he wouldn’t come back to him for quite some way after they jumped.

“We’ll wait and see whether we give him another start or put him away for the winter.

“There is a nice race here next week (Listed, 1100m) but he would have to come through this one well to contemplate a start in that one.”

Windsor Park Stud master Rodney Schick believes the win will be the first of many for the progeny of Turn Me Loose who had been expected to shine as they matured.

“It’s just fantastic to see Turn Me Loose get his first winner over the line as he was a superior racehorse and has produced some lovely horses so far,” he said.

“There has been a great word around them and we’re very excited as we expect to see plenty more on the track from now on.

“I think it was also a special moment for race commentator George Simon to call Turn The Ace home as he and his wife Maryanne bred Turn Me Loose and I’m sure he got a real kick out of the result.”

Turn Me Loose will stand his fifth season at Windsor Park later this year with his service fee to be announced in the coming weeks.