Day At The Track

Alta Maestro claims NZ record – Donnelly gets 100 wins

10:29 AM 25 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Alta Maestro saved his best career performance for Cambridge Raceway last night (Thursday) when smashing the New Zealand 1700m mobile record for 2-year-old pacers.

The Art Major - Alta Camilla colt lowered More The Better's record set at Alexandra Park by 0.3 of a second.

His time of 1:59.7 even beat Better B Amazed’s national mares' record of 1:59.9 that she set at Alexandra Park last April.

Trained by Robert Dunn, Alta Maestro went into the race having won two of his three races.

His only blemish came last start at Alexandra Park when he finished third behind Mach Shard and Spankem in the Group One $100,000 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes.

He sat parked that throughout that night when he was one-one in the betting. He was again the warm $1.60 favourite last night.

Driver Dexter Dunn praised the colt’s performance in last night’s first heat of the $20,000 Garrards New Zealand Sires Stakes heat. .

“He’s back on track now. We were attacked early on but he felt awesome throughout the race. It was only in the final 50m I had to keep him up to his work. He couldn’t have been more impressive.

“He was travelling so fluently throughout. The New Zealand record was a bonus,” Dunn said.

Alta Maestro set a sizzling mile rate of 1:53.3 and sprinted his final sectionals in 56.6 and 28.3.

He had four-and-a-half lengths to spare over the second placed second favourite, Culpeka and Brent Mangos.

Dunn said he had driven some nice 2-year-olds in his career including Smiling Shard and Bit Of A legend and rated this fella not too inferior to them at the same time early in their careers.

“He’s only had four races but what he’s shown us so far, he’s going to be a very handy 2-year-old. He just felt so fluent tonight. He wasn’t quite himself last start,” said Dunn.

Alta Maestro is now ranked second behind Mach Shard for the Group One $200,000 Emerald 2yo Jewels Final at Ashburton on June 3. All his major 2-year-old races will now all be in the South Island.

There's the Group Two $40,000 Welcome Stakes at Addington Raceway on April 7; the Listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales Final at Addington on May 12; and the Group One $170,000 Garrards Sires Stakes Final, also at Addington Raceway on May 19.

“He’s got an exciting schedule ahead and tonight’s race has put him in good stead for those big races down south. Dad has always had a lot of time for this fella and I can see why.

“He relaxed really well in front and just felt like a good horse. He seemed to really enjoy tonight’s race. We will find out in the next couple of months as to where he sits in the 2-year-old pecking order, but from my opinion he’s right up there,” Dunn said.

Alta Maestro is owned by Tinwald couple Stuart and Elizabeth Leadley and was bred by the Alta Breeding Company Limited at Waiau Pa.

They paid $100,000 for him at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka.

Meanwhile local trainer Arna Donnelly notched up her 100th career training victory when the Andre Poutama driven Bet Out Of El won at $14.60 odds in the 10th race.

Donnelly was aboard stablemate, No Way Else, who finished eighth.

Bet Out Of El paced the 2200m mobile in 2:40.2 (mile rate 1:57.2) and came home in 57.2 and 28.7. It was the 4-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding's fourth win in nine starts.

All up Donnelly has now trained 100 winners from 946 starters since 2003. She's also placed 184 times and banked $681,640 in career stakes.

It was her 20th win from 115 starters this season. Donnelly has also driven 158 winners since 1998.

Duane Ranger


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