A six horse field for the opener on Wednesday's midweek metropolitan program staged at Gosford on the Central Coast saw all half-dozen runners cross the finishing line within 2.7 lengths of each other with the Kris Lees-trained Zetarita arriving home first.
A last start winner at Muswellbrook, Zetarita ($5.50) took the step up to ‘city grade’ in her stride to score by a half-length winning margin, with $3.80 favourite Hoover Lucy claiming second and Arthur Francis ($7.50) running third.
Such was the nature of the contest however, fourth horse Starman came from last in the field to cross the finishing line a very close-up fourth, while Park Avenue finished fifth but could have easily won the contest with more luck in the straight.
Ridden the perfect race by Jason Collett, the winner Zetarita made the most of her opportunity and now boasts two wins from three starts, having finished runner-up at Taree on debut.
Both winning trainer Kris Lees and the successful jockey Jason Collett claimed that there wasn’t much of Zetarita in size, but they each felt sure that the daughter of Capitalist would train on to better wins and hopefully emulates the level reached by her dam Onemorezetta — a Group 3 winner of the VRC Red Roses Stakes at Flemington.
While runner-up Hoover Lucy appeared to have been given every chance to bridge the gap on the winner over the closing stages, there seemed good reason to believe that Starman (4th) and Park Avenue (5th) might have gone closer to winning under different circumstances.
Starman was ridden very quietly out the back of the field in the first half of the race before hitting the line strongly in the short Gosford straight. The well-related son of Zoustar — owned by a syndicate of owners which includes Coolmore, Sir Peter Vela, Chris Waller Racing and others — is slowly developing his race savvy and remains a work in progress.
Richard & Michael Freedman trained Park Avenue finished next to last but appeared particularly unlucky on two or three occasions in the straight when disappointed for a run. The gelding’s form will show that he finished 5th-of-six in the $50,000, 1st Crop Yes Yes Yes Foals Handicap (1200m) but his effort was much, much better than it will appear on face value.
Zetarita ran 1:09.25 in winning, coming home the final 600 metres in 35.37s.
Official margins were Half-Length x Length.
Significantly, the only other entry Zetarita held before today was for a Class 1 Showcase Handicap over 1100m on this coming Sunday’s Bathurst Cup program.