Inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding Im Victorious served notice that he will take a power of beating in the $200,000 Sky Channel WA Derby on April 17 when he crushed his harness racing rivals in the 2100m Western Australia Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night (March 30).
While his jubilant band of ten owners celebrated the gelding’s effortless victory 23-year-old Boyanup reinsman Justin Prentice confidently predicted that the best had yet to be seen of the streamlined pacer.
Im Victorious, trained by 36-year-old Michael Brennan, treated his rivals with contempt as he set the pace and strolled to victory by two and a half lengths from Western Cullen, with Polak a close third.
Prentice did not bother to pull the ear plugs and Im Victorious, the 5/1 on favourite, had plenty in reserve as he scorched over the final 800m in 56.8sec. and the last 400m in 27.9sec. to win at a 1.58.2 rate to improve his record to five wins and a second placing from only six starts for earnings of $39,500.
“He’s definitely the best three-year-old I have sat behind,” said Prentice as he explained that he had not pulled the plugs in the two starts in which he has driven the gelding.
“He’s a lazy horse and I think he’ll give a lot more when I pull them. He feels like he’s walking, but he just runs times. I’m surprised when I look up at the semaphore board and see the times he’s running. That’s what good horses do. I think that with a sit in better races he’ll even be a better horse.
“The extra distance in the Derby (2506m) won’t be a problem.”
Im Victorious began from the No. 2 barrier and Prentice gave the gelding plenty of time to become balanced before dashing him past the polemarker Polak and into the lead 150m after the start.
Western Cullen, second favourite at 5/1 from barrier four, was trapped four wide early and he raced three wide before getting to the breeze after 700m. He fought on doggedly to be second.
Polak ran on gamely to be third, two lengths in front of fourth placegetter Hezgot Fusion Power, who started from the inside of the back line and raced three back on the pegs all the way.
Im Victorious, by, the sire of champion Im Themightyquinn, is owned by a syndicate of ten, comprising David Skelton, Rowen Langridge, Cameron Byers, Simon Miller, Ray Meadowcroft, Peter Bell, Brad Archibald, Shane Read, Tamara Waller and Kellie Grantham.
Miller celebrated the next day by training a double at the Ascot thoroughbred meeting, scoring with Platinum Rocker in a $40,000 event for fillies and mares and Power Princess in the listed $80,000 Miss Andretti Stakes. Bell, the former North Melbourne rover and Fremantle Dockers captain, spent Saturday evening watching the Dockers beat 2011 AFL premiers Geelong at Subiaco Oval.
MYSYTA MAGICAL MACH BOUNCES BACK TO HIS BEST
Veteran Byford owner-trainer Tony Svilicich won the Veolia Environmental Services Autumn Championship for the second time when Morgan Woodley drove 7/2 chance Mystical Magical Mach to an easy victory over 9/4 favourite Please Release Me at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Svilicich won the race two years earlier when Has The Answers (Colin Brown) beat Gee Whiz Fizz. This also was Woodley’s second success in the Autumn Championship. He won with Scruffy Murphy in 2008.
This year it was a case of Mysta Magical Mach bouncing back to form after a disappointing effort when fifth as a 6/4 favourite in a field of eight the previous Friday night.
Mysta Magical Mach started from the outside of the front line (barrier seven) in a 2100m event the previous week and Svilicich instructed Woodley to restrain the gelding and to keep him at the rear and not to give the pacer a tough run without cover in an event in which Has The Answers was expected to lead and set a brisk pace.
Svilicich instructed Woodley not to make a forward move until after the bell, but Woodley started a three-wide move 950m from home. However, with Has The Answers sprinting the final 800m in 57.1sec. Mysta Magical mach was unable to make any significant impression on the leading runners.
This week, with Has The Answers (Mark Reed) drawn on the back line, Svilicich told Woodley to use his own initiative.
Mysta Magical Mach started from the No. 6 barrier and Woodley urged him forward, three wide, in the early stages before surging past Franco Renegade and into the lead after 500m.
Raglan, making his first appearance since finishing fourth in the interdominion championship final four weeks earlier, dashed forward in the first lap to work hard in the breeze, with Has The Answers slotting into the one-out, one-back position.
Woodley rated Mysta Magical Mach to perfection and the seven-year-old gave his rivals little chance when he sprinted the final 800m 57.2sec. Please Release Me, who raced in eighth position in the one-wide line, was switched three wide 500m from home and he finished powerfully to be an excellent second.
“We probably didn’t get it right last week,” Woodley said. “If we had our time over, we probably would have done it differently. Last week I wanted to drive him the same way as I drove him tonight.
“It really paid off tonight and the horse has gone super, rating 1.57.6 for the 2506m. He’s a great cash cow.”
Mysta Magical Mach now has earned $1,014,381 from 25 wins and 38 placings from 98 starts.
CORZA COMMOTION GIVES ANDERSON A TIMELY BOOST
Bickley trainer Peter Anderson’s sagging spirits were given a boost when honest mare Corza Commotion set the pace and held on grimly to score a narrow victory in the 1700m Veolia Industrial Cleaning Services Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Anderson had the misfortune on Thursday night of watching his highly-promising filly Return To Texas crash to the track after being severely checked by a galloping runner moments after the start of a 2150m event at Harvey.
When Morgan Woodley guided Corza Commotion to a head victory over the strong-finishing Dial A Taxi, veterinary surgeons were trying to save Return To Texas, who received serious injuries to her knees.
Much of the surgery was to remove the gravel from the legs of Return To Texas in a bid to prevent infection setting in.
Return To Texas, owned by Ivan Katich, was a hot favourite at her debut at Harvey and Anderson was not only confident of a first-up success but also predicted an extremely bright future for the three-year-old who is a half-sister to open-class pacer Aussie Reactor, a winner of $267,854 from 19 wins and 16 placings from 65 starts, including a nose victory over Anderson’s brilliant juvenile James Matthew in the group 1 Golden Slipper in July 2008.
Such is the extent of the injuries sustained by Return To Texas that there appears little prospect of her racing. If she survives she will be a valuable brood mare.
Corza Commotion, a five-year-old by, purchased by Ken Casellas in New Zealand two years ago, has overcome a few setbacks to develop into a consistent performer.
After a fast-finishing victory at Harvey at her Australian debut, Corza Commotion experienced hoof problems, an affliction which wrecked her chances in the WA Oaks won by Millwood Meg. Then she developed a breathing problem and underwent surgery last April, which was followed by a lengthy period of recuperation.
After being off the scene for seven months Anderson has got Corza Commotion back to full fitness and she has had 16 starts in her comeback preparation for five wins and three placings to take her career record to 45 starts for ten wins, seven placings and stakes of $60,635. Her 35 WA starts have produced seven wins, five placings and $43,306.
Corza Commotion, favourite at 7/4, made the most of the favourable No. 1 barrier, with Woodley dictating the terms in front after holding out an early challenge from Astro Midge.
After Corza Commotion covered the first 400m section of the final mile in 29.4sec., Woodley was able to give the mare a valuable breather with a 30.8sec. second quarter before she dashed over the final two sections in 28.7sec. and 28.9sec. She rated 1.57.2 and held out Dial A Taxi by a head after that mare had enjoyed the perfect trail three back on the pegs.
Kamwood Girl raced four back on the pegs and finished solidly into third place, with M4-class mare Pole Dancer finishing a close fourth after working in the breeze over the final 1100m.
SUVALJKO PREDICTS MANY MORE WINS FOR COOL ADDA
Serpentine trainer Shannon Suvaljko predicted a bright future for Cool Adda after he had driven the WA-bred four-year-old mare to a stylish victory in the 1700m Veolia Resources Recovery Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“She’s tough and very strong and I think she will win three or four in town,” he said. “She can run good times. She can run 1.55 or 1.56 every time.”
Cool Adda, bred and owned by Albany businessman Harry Capararo, was an 11/2 chance from, the inside of the back line. She trailed the pacemaker and 4/1 favourite Libby El before Suvaljko eased her off the pegs with 250m to travel.
She sprinted strongly, burst to the front on the home turn and won by just over a length from Old McDonald, who surged home, three wide, from 11th at the bell.
Cool Adda, who rated a slick 1.56.2, now has earned $120,759 from 12 wins and ten placings from 57 starts. She showed early promise when she won the group 1 Diamond Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park in June 2010.
Her dam Coco Chanel managed only three placings from 18 starts, but has produced other handy pacers in French Fashion (55 starts for five wins, 16 placings and $48,380) and Mystic Arc (45 starts for seven wins, 14 placings and $65,846).
Coco Chanel’s dam Orthez produced nine winners, including Whitby Tolez (37 starts for 15 wins, ten placings and $200,196) and Travelling Whitby (207 starts for 39 wins, 52 placings and $148,404). Orthez’s half-brother Palimar earned $306,125 from 24 wins and 29 placings from 96 starts. He finished second to Our Maestro in the 1988 interdominion championship at Harold Park.
WOODLEY BRINGS LIVEALITTLE FROM LAST TO FIRST
Outstanding young reinsman Morgan Woodley landed the first leg of a treble at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he gave a patient exhibition to bring outsider Livealittle from last at the bell to score by a metre from 5/2 favourite Dalvey Gold in the 2100m Veolia Commercial Waste Solutions Westbred Pathway Pace.
The 23-year-old Woodley followed that success with wins behind Corza Commotion and Mysta Magical Mach to retain a handy lead on the Statewide drivers’ premiership table.
He now has had 730 drives for 119 wins and 184 placings to lead from Gary Hall jun. (94 wins from 382 drives) and Colin Brown (91 wins from 544 drives).
Livealittle, a 15/1 chance, started from barrier three on the back line and Woodley settled the lightly-raced five-year-old mare in ninth position before she was shuffled back to 12th and last at the bell. She began a three-wide move at the 750m mark and she was still last with 600m to travel.
Fancied runners Zacs Nuggett and Dalvey Gold were sustaining strong runs from the rear and appeared likely to fight out the finish. But Livealittle carried too many guns for her rivals. She went seven wide on the home turn and charged to the front in the final 60m to beat Dalvey Gold and Zacs Nuggett.
Livealittle, trained at Karnup by Steve Parsons, rated 1.58.2 and looks set for further successes. She has had only 18 starts for five wins, seven placings and stakes of $26,764.
“She likes to sit just off the pace and if there is a bit of speed early that really does benefit her chances,” Woodley said.
Livealittle, by American stallion Lifes Not Fair, is the first foal out of Smash It Up, who was retired to stud after four unplaced starts. Smash It Up’s dam Demarcation won nine times from 41 starts in Victoria and one of the five winners she has produced was Walesa, who earned $79,185 from 11 wins and 17 placings from 79 starts.
Demarcation’s dam Picket Line produced ten winners, including Black Line (78 starts for 18 wins, 13 placings and $255,232) and Heeza Hudson (134 starts for 24 wins, 35 placings and $168,370).
STRONG-FINISHING NORTH TOA LUCKSTAR CAUSES AN UPSET
Punters disregarded consistent five-year-old North Toa Luckstar and rallied to support noted frontrunner Rakamaz in the 2100m Veolia Recycling Solutions Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Rakamaz, from the prized No. 1 barrier, was sent out a firm 6/4 favourite, while North Toa Luckstar, beaten a head by Fairly Powerful at Bunbury last Tuesday week, was a 29/1 tote outsider.
Dylan Quadrio sent Rakamaz straight to the front and the eight-year-old was pacing strongly in front at the bell, with Strident in the breeze, Absolute Cool on the pegs behind the leader and Argent Treasure in the one-out, one-back position. North Toa Luckstar was ninth, following the three-wide run of Sir.
Argent Treasure fought his way to the lead with about 100m to travel before he was swamped by North Toa Luckstar and Jimmy Cruise.
North Toa Luckstar burst to the front in the final 30m and won by a half-length from Jimmy Cruise, who ran home solidly from tenth at the bell.
North Toa Luckstar, bred by Bruce Crabb, is raced by Bunbury trainer Frank Bonnett, who certainly has no regrets in his decision to engage Callan Suvaljko to drive thegelding for the first time.
Suvaljko was the 11th driver to have handled North Toa Luckstar in a race. The gelding has earned $131,850 from 14 wins and 15 placings from 51 starts and looks set to win more races. North Toa Luckstar’s dam Shes So Bright, who was unplaced at her five starts, is a half-sister to former smart pacer Trunkey Zoom, who won 17 races in the 1990s.
FROM DAY ONE OVERCOMES TARDY START TO BWIN AT 7/1
From Day One, a beaten odds-on favourite at his two previous outings after galloping at the standing start, again broke into a gallop in the 2503m Happy 60th Graeme Justins Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
However, after losing four lengths with his tardy beginning, From Day One, a 7/1 chance, unwound a powerful finish from sixth at the bell to win narrowly from Shardons Rocket, Fast Play and Therecomesatime.
Pacific Black set the pace and he set a fast pace as he pulled hard against reinsman Kim Prentice. His inclination to overrace ruined his chances and played into the hands of From Day One and other runners at the rear.
Packed Safely, the 20m backmarker, dashed forward in the first lap and worked hard in the breeze before eventually getting to a narrow lead 420m from home. Shardons Rocket, who had raced without cover in the first circuit before obtaining the one-out, one-back trail, hit the front 350m from home, but was unable to hold out the strong-finishing From Day One.
Dundee Three, favourite at 6/4, raced at the rear before starting a three-wide burst approaching the bell. He moved to third at the 500m mark before wilting to finish fifth. Packed Safely faded to sixth.
Reinsman Chris Lewis said that From Day One, trained at Byford by Peter Tilbrook, had appreciated the fast pace set by Pacific Black. “Obviously the way the race was run helped him,” he said. “The pace was pretty solid all the way and we haven’t run home in exceptional sections (30sec. and 29.8sec.).”
From Day One, owned by South Australians Jacqueline Lamb, Michael Bowd, Alan Mann, Geoffrey Johnson and Michael Koop, has had 18 starts in WA for four wins and six placings to boost his career record to 77 starts for 15 wins, 28 placings and stakes of $107,065.
HALL IS A MASTER OF FIRST-UP PERFORMERS
Gary Hall sen., the State’s leading trainer, enhanced his reputation as a first-up specialist when he produced former Victorian pacer Kentucky Jasper in fine fettle for his first outing for four months in the Veolia Environmental Services Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Kentucky Jasper, a 9/2 chance off the back line, impressed when he produced a long and powerful three-wide finishing burst to come from ninth at the 1500m mark to charge to the front 130m from home and race away to score by three lengths from Phil B.
He was driven confidently by Kim Prentice and rated 2.0.5 over 2506m, with the final 400m taking 28.9sec.
Polemarker Erris Lad, the 7/4 favourite, set the pace before wilting to fifth. Phil B ran on well from fifth at the bell and Solomon Maguire was a fighting third after racing in the breeze.
Hall said that he had fancied Kentucky Jasper’s prospects at his first appearance in WA until his confidence was eroded when the six-year-old worked only fairly last Wednesday morning.
However, he was impressed with the way he performed and is confident the gelding will maintain his excellent form.
Kentucky Jasper, owned by Doug Webster, entered Hall’s stables with a losing sequence of 18. He had managed only two placings in that run of outs since his previous success, when he set the pace and held on to win narrowly over 1790m at Mildura in March of last year.
Kentucky Jasper now has had 51 starts for eight wins and 18 placings for stakes of $48,623.
GALVERON APPRECIATES A DROP IN CLASS
Eight-year-old Galveron made the most of a considerable drop in class when he outstayed his rivals in the 2503m Veolia Liquid Waste Collection Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
An M2-class pacer off 10m in the M0 and better event, Galveron was a solidly supported 9/4 favourite and the aggressive tactics adopted by reinsman Mark Reed paved the way for his victory.
Frontmarker Adda Tak set the pace, with Puhinui Rainbow in the breeze and Galveron in eighth position after a lap had been covered.
Reed took Galveron three wide to start a forward move 1200m from home and the sturdy gelding sustained his effort to hit the front with 250m to travel. El Padrino (7/2) was in seventh place before Kim Prentice switched him five wide at the 350m mark.
El Padrino sprinted quickly and looked likely to prove the master of Galveron. But he wilted on his run and Galveron dug deep to beat him by 1m.
“It was a big drop in class and that helped him,” said Reed, who drove the gelding for his father, Hazelmere trainer Mike Reed. “Half way down the straight I thought we were in a bit of strife, but then he really found the line strongly.”
Galveron, a winner of 11 races in Victoria, has raced 26 times in WA for five wins and nine placings. His overall record stands at 90 starts for 16 wins, 29 placings and stakes of $128,940.
After the race the stewards fined both Reed and Prentice $200 for an incorrect whip action.
NO TROUBLE FOR FREEWHEELING PACEMAKER ZANARDI
New Zealand-bred six-year-old Zanardi notched his 15th win in WA when he charged to the front after 600m, set a fast pace and coasted to a four-length victory over Grinjaro in the 2506m Veolia Environmental Waste Management Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The freewheeling gelding, trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, was driven with supreme confidence by Colin Brown.
Zanardi, who started speedily from the No. 6 barrier, sped over the final 800m in 57.3sec. and rated a smart 1.58.3.
“Looking at the front line, I thought Zanardi could lead, or at least breeze,” Brown said. “And even in the breeze he does as good a job as he does in front. He was probably over the odds ($10.60) tonight and hopefully punters forgave him his previous run (a fading 12th behind Mysta Magical Mach three weeks earlier). I wasn’t disappointed with that run, actually. There were a few excuses.”
Grinjaro maintained his good form when he finished strongly from seventh at the bell. Zanardi has earned $134,167 from 16 wins and 13 placings from 78 starts.
by Ken CASELLAS
Mysta Magical Mach: