Day At The Track

Black Jack Baby looks the goods

02:46 PM 09 Jul 2020 NZST
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Black Jack Baby, Harness racing

Black Jack Baby, the only female pacer in the field to contest the $100,000 Choices Flooring Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is poised to upstage the colts and geldings and become the ninth filly to win the Group 1 event.

The classic for two-year-olds has been run 52 times, with a filly, Sordice, trained and driven by Vince Chalker, winning the inaugural event at a 2.14.4 rate in 1968.

Since then the successful fillies have been Omista (1971), Via Vista (1980), Mazzini Magic (1988), Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Whitbys Merit (1993), Spirit of Navajo (2005) and Arma Xpress (2012).

Fourteen fillies have competed in the rich feature event in the past five years, with only three placegetters Dodolicious (second to Sprinter in 2015), Sheer Rocknroll (third to Sprinter) and Cott Beach (second to Jack Mac in 2017).

Black Jack Baby has been extremely impressive in her short career for breeder-owner-trainer Shane Quadrio, winning at seven of her eight starts, and her prospects on Friday night rose sharply when she drew favourably at barrier No. 2 on the front line.

Quadrio has implicit faith in Black Jack Baby and is in awe of her brilliant turn of foot. Both he and reinsman Chris Voak consider that Black Jack Baby is at her best when driven as a sit-sprinter. But with such a favourable draw they are most likely to attempt an all-the-way victory.

Black Jack Baby also started from barrier two at her latest appearance when she was untroubled to lead and stroll to victory over Just For Love in the 2130m Group 1 Westbred Classic for fillies last Friday week. She was not put under any pressure at any stage and was able to set a dawdling early pace, with a lead time of a slow 39.2sec., followed by two 32.3sec. quarters before a third section of 29.5sec. followed by a dazzling closing 400m of 26.6sec.

She is certainly most unlikely to be afforded such latitude by her rivals this week.

Looming large as Black Jack Baby’s major rival is the only unbeaten runner in the field, the brilliant New Zealand-bred Jett Star, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the inside of the back line. Trained by Greg and Skye Bond, Jett Star has won at each of his five starts, including a superb victory in the Group 1 Pearl Classic two starts ago.

He started from the outside of the back line and raced in eighth position before starting a three-wide move 1050m from home. He moved to fifth at the bell and sustained his effort to take the lead with 250m to travel and go on and beat the pacemaker Lavra Joe by a length, rating 1.56 over the 2130m, with final quarters of 28.1sec. and 27.5sec.

Then, at his next start, at Gloucester Park last Tuesday week, he overcame a bad beginning when he was keen in the score-up and his nose struck the mobile barrier, causing him to gallop and lose about six lengths. He raced without cover for much of the way and dashed over the final 400m sections in 27.4sec. and 28.5sec. to beat Seeryanfly by a head.

Greg Bond prepared Ohokas Bondy for his victory in the 2010 Golden Slipper before he and his wife trained Mitch Maguire for his win in the 2016 classic. Warwick, who led from the No. 1 barrier and won with Mitch Maguire, also was successful in the 2005 event with Spirit of Navajo.   

The Bonds also have an excellent second-string runner this week in Give Us a Wave, who will start from barrier No. 6 with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. Give Us A Wave made the most of the No. 1 barrier when he led and scored an easy victory over Mighty Ronaldo and Machnificent in the Group 1 Westbred Class for colts and geldings last Friday week.

Gary Hall Jnr has chosen to handle the Kat Warwick-trained Machnificent in preference to the Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo. Machnificent, who will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line, ran home strongly from sixth at the bell when third to Give Us A Wave. Mighty Ronaldo enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing a sound second. Prentice will drive Mighty Ronaldo from the worst draw, the outside (No. 9) on the front line.

Chris Lewis, who has won the Golden Slipper a record eight times, will drive the Ray Jones-trained Lavra Joe from out wide at barrier eight. Jones prepared Disco Force for his brilliant victory in the 2000 Golden Slipper.

Lavra Joe is one of the State’s best two-year-olds (with six wins and four placings from 14 starts), but he will need luck from his poor draw.


Ken Casellas

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