Day At The Track

Gloucester Park with Ken Casellas

11:43 AM 20 Oct 2013 NZDT
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Connections of Im Victorious
Connections of Im Victorious

IM VICTORIOUS SIMPLY AWESOME, DECLARES Justin Prentice

Justin Prentice declared that Im Victorious felt “simply awesome” and that his effortless triumph in the $35,000 J. P. Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night was the best performance of his sensational 26-start career.

And Prentice predicted that the five-year-old would “give them a big shake over there” if he gained a start in the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on November 30.

Unbeaten at his six starts since resuming from a spell, Im Victorious moved another giant step forward to receiving an invitation to contest the Miracle Mile with his record-breaking victory, by three lengths over Ima Rocket Star in the 2130m Stratton Cup.

“He could have won by a bigger margin,” said Prentice who sat quietly in the sulky and did not drive out the gelding over the final 250m. “This was probably his best win. He showed that he can do the work and still win easily and proved to those doubters who considered him just a one-trick pony. Tonight he just wanted to go and normally he switches off at the end of his races. But not tonight.

“Down the back I was trying to go easy on him, but he was hard on the bit and just wanting to go. He hasn’t done that for a while and it was good for him to show that spirit in this class.”

Trainer Michael Brennan and the band of ten owners will now wait anxiously to see whether the New South Wales harness racing officials offer an invitation for Im Victorious to contest the Miracle Mile.

Im Victorious, favourite at 2/1 on, started from the back line and settled in eighth position in the one-wide line as Passion Stride set the early pace from Sneakyn Down Under (breeze), Crombie (pegs) and Ima Rocket Star in the one-out, one-back position.

Im Victorious has been driven as a sit-sprinter in most of his races, but Prentice showed his confidence in the gelding when he switched him three-wide and urged him forward at the 1000m mark. He cruised to the front with 400m to travel and coasted to victory from Ima Rocket Star, second fancy at 5/1 who finished solidly. Outsider Shardons Rocket followed the three-wide run of the winner and fought on strongly to be third.

Im Victorious, winner of the WA Derby and Golden Nugget last year, rated 1.55.9 (after final quarters in 28.8sec. and 29.2sec.) which is the fastest rate recorded in the 65 runnings of the Stratton Cup which has been decided over various distances and from a stand many times.

Im Victorious has now amassed $474,660 in prizemoney from 19 wins and two placings from 26 starts.

HALL FATHER-AND-SON COMBINATION DOMINATES WITH SIX WINNERS

The all-conquering combination of leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and his son, leading reinsman Gary Hall jun., dominated the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night and they brought up their sixth victory when the disappointing Northview Cardle snapped a losing sequence of 11 by setting a brisk pace and scoring an easy win in the 2130m Yes Loans Pathway Pace.

With the 2013-14 season only in its second month, the Halls have already established substantial leads on the premiership tables, with Hall sen. the leading Metropolitan trainer with 25 wins and 25 placings from 97 starters and Hall jun. the top reinsman with 20 wins and 19 placings from 69 drives.

Hall sen. leads from Greg and Skye Bond, who have had 50 city starters for eight wins and eight placings. In second spot on the reinsmen’s premiership is Colin Brown with ten wins and ten placings from 52 drives.

The New Zealand-bred Northview Cardle, purchased for a high figure by New South Wales breeder John Starr, raced 21 times in NSW for six wins and seven placings in country-class events before being sent to Hall sen. Northview Cardle disappointed at his first 11 WA starts, managing only four minor placings.

But the five-year-old was ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line against modest opposition in Friday night’s event in which he was well supported and started third favourite at 7/2 behind Lord Coburn (5/2) and At Princeton (3/1).

Hall jun. decided that aggressive tactics would be the best way for Northview Cardle to break the drought. He dashed the gelding straight to the front and set a solid pace before getting the opposing runners out of their comfort zone with a 28.9sec. third quarter of the final mile.

At Princeton, who had raced without cover, began to fade and so, too, did polemarker Alta Onassis, who had enjoyed the run of the race behind the pacemaker. Zurbaran also began to feel the pinch from the favourable one-out, one-back position.

Northview Cardle then dashed away to score by two lengths from 10/1 chance Mister Roberto, who finished solidly from eighth at the bell. Lord Coburn, who started a three-wide move at the bell, plugged on to finish third.

Northview Cardle rated 1.r58.7 and took his record to 33 starts for seven wins and 11 placings for earnings of $33,370. His dam Bonnie Beaudiene (by Nero’s B B) managed just one placing from 12 starts in New Zealand. But she has produced eight winners, including Beaudiene Vicolo (nine wins and $48,404), Beaudiene Lightning (five wins and $16,492) and Beaudiene Terminator (four wins and $41,914).

THE PARADE EVOKES MEMORIES OF Auckland Reactor

Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred three-year-old The Parade showed that she has a bright future when she outclassed her rivals in the 2130m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And it is little wonder that she has a good share of ability. She is closely related to champion New Zealand pacer Auckland Reactor, who impressed local fans when he won three heats of the interdominion championship at Gloucester Park in February 2012 before he started from the outside barrier and worked hard in the breeze from the 1200m and faded to seventh behind Im Themightyquinn in the final.

There is certainly little likelihood that The Parade will reach the heights of Auckland Reactor, who has earned $1,759,374 from 32 wins and four placings from 53 starts. He has won seven group 1, eight group 2 and three group 3 events and was a nose second to Choise Achiever in the 2012 Hunter Cup. His group 1 victories include the 2008 New Zealand Derby, the 2009 Auckland Cup and the 2009 Emerald for four-year-old horses and geldings.

The Parade, by American stallion Real Desire, is the first foal out of Hearty Lass, an unraced Badlands Hanover mare whose dam Atomic Lass (by Soky’s Atom) managed two wins in minor country events in New Zealand in October 1990 before producing seven winners, including Auckland Reactor and former West Australian performers Taihape Tickler (113 starts for 19 wins, 19 placings and $183,919) and Riffle Dragon (125 starts for eight wins, 18 placings and $58,112).

It was a good effort by The Parade to defeat six geldings and one other filly (Art Force) on Friday night after she had scored a three-length first-up victory over several colts and geldings at Pinjarra 11 days earlier.

The Parade, driven by her trainer Justin Prentice, was favourite at 10/9 on from barrier two on the back line on Friday night and she settled in sixth position in the field of eight before Prentice sent her forward, there wide, at the 1250m. She moved to the breeze with 1050m to travel and cruised past the pacemaker Organized Chaos 500m from home before winning by 8m from Our Mandingo (9/1), with Soho Cash 4/1) a battling third after trailing the pacemaker.

The Parade impressed in sprinting over the final 400m in 28.7sec. and Prentice is hopeful she will continue her improvement and develop into a candidate for the WA Oaks next year.

“She has come back better than her two-year-old campaign (when placed once from three starts) and at the moment I’m aiming her for some races for fillies at Gloucester Park in the next couple of months,” he said. Two 2130m $17,000 events for three-year-old fillies have been programmed in the coming weeks, on November 22 and December 20.

“She’s definitely got the speed,” Prentice said. “And if she keeps improving she will be an Oaks candidate. I was hoping to sit her in tonight’s race, but I was flushed out a lot earlier than I had hoped. And then she showed that she can do it both ways.”

EXTREMELY GOOD STAKES HIS CLAIM FOR A START IN THE GOLDEN NUGGET

Talented New Zealand-bred pacer Extremely Good lived up to his name when he made a wonderful return to racing at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Driven confidently by his part-owner and trainer Chris Butt, Extremely Good crushed his rivals in the 2130m Del Basso Smallgoods Pathway Pace when he gave a sample of his undoubted ability.

Though the opposition of older and more experienced rivals was not outstanding, Extremely Good was most impressive and showed that he has the potential to develop into a candidate for the upcoming rich features for four-year-olds, including the $175,000 Golden Nugget on December 6.

Extremely Good, making his first appearance for three months, was sent out at the lucrative odds of 13/2 in a race in which ultra-consistent five-year-old In The Perfect Storm dominated betting and was favourite at 7/4 on.

In The Perfect Storm was beaten out from barrier three and Gary Hall jun. had to race without cover as 12/1 chance Franco Nasser (barrier two) set a dawdling early pace. Butt restrained Extremely Good back to last.

Hall applied mid-race pressure on Franco Nasser and the second 400m section of the final mile whizzed by in 28.6sec. In The Perfect Storm then got his nose in front at the bell, but was unable to cross Franco Nasser.

Extremely Good was seventh at the bell and Butt finally urged the gelding forward turning into the back straight. Extremely Good sprinted fast, out four wide, from the 520m to burst to the front 360m from home. He then raced away to win by four lengths from In The Perfect Storm, with Ya Dreamin running on from sixth at the bell to be third.

The final two quarters each took just 28.8sec. and the winner rated 1.58.6 to improve his record to five wins and 14 placings from 26 starts for stakes of $43,235. It was his second win from 12 WA starts after winning twice from ten starts in New South Wales and once from four Victorian starts.

Extremely Good is the fourth foal out of Beach Towel mare Dollys Daughter and is a half-brother to Bruce Almighty, who has had 70 starts for 11 wins (ten in WA), 20 placings and $82,290.

THIS TIME DYLAN IS RELISHING A SWITCH TO STANDING STARTS

A switch from mobile racing to standing-start events has helped New Zealand-bred eight-year-old This Time Dylan turn the corner and produce the best form of his brief career.

This Time Dylan, favourite at 7/4 from the 10m mark, relished his sit-sprint capacity to sustain a spirited three-wide burst from the rear to get up in the final stride to snatch a nose victory from Gday Mate (5/1) in the 2503m TABtouch Western Bonanza Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Gary Hall jun. was content to have This Time Dylan in tenth position before he followed the three-wide burst of Gday Mate from the 1200m mark. Justin Prentice sent Gday Mate to the front 400m from home and the gelding rounded the final bend with what appeared to be a winning advantage. But he just failed to hold out This Time Dylan, who fought on determinedly under the urgings from Hall, wielding the whip in his left hand.

“He loses his way a bit on the last bend when he wants to get in a bit,” Hall explained. “I thought we had a good shot, but when Justin kicked away I thought we would run second at best. But he’s a little horse with a big heart. He digs deep and definitely knows where the line is. It’s a great advantage having as horse like him who gets away (from a stand) so well.”

Trainer Gary Hall sen. started This Time Dylan in mobiles at his first 16 starts in Western Australia for three wins and two placings. Then he switched the gelding to stands and he has started in a stand at each of his past six starts for three wins and a third placing. He has now earned $68,855 from nine wins and six placings from 30 starts.

Evergreen nine-year-old Courageous Ned (16/1) maintained his wonderful consistency in stands by running on to finish third after trailing the pacemaker To Transcend, who finished fourth.

No. 1 BARRIER MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE FOR BLACK PONTIAC

Victorian-bred seven-year-old Black Pontiac further illustrated the considerable advantage of the No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when Orange Grove trainer Donald Harper drove him to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m West Australian pace on Friday night.

Black Pontiac had started at double figure odds at his five previous starts, including odds of 53/1, 71/1 and 56/1 at his three previous outings when he finished seventh, ninth and eleventh from less favourable draws.

But from the No. 1 barrier on Friday night he was all the rage and started at 5/2 on. He set the pace and was kept honest by False Promise in the breeze, with the final four quarters going by in 29.2sec, 30.4sec., 28.9sec. and 29.2sec. He fought on grimly to defeat the fast-finishing Asian Courage (97/1) by a nose, with a length to 160/1 chance Franco Torres in third place. Asian Courage flew home from tenth in the middle stages and Franco Torres ran on from third-last at the bell.

Black Pontiac’s previous win was when he led from the No. 1 barrier and beat Imtheguy over 1730m on August 16. The noted frontrunner now has earned $91,237 from 16 wins and 11 placings from 80 starts. He has had 69 starts in Western Australia for 11 wins and eight placings after winning at five of his 11 Victorian starts.

By Grinfromeartoear, he is the second (and last) foal out of the Safely Kept mare Short And Black, who had 47 starts in Victoria for ten wins, 11 placings and $53,619 in prizemoney. Short And Black’s first foal Falcons Legend has had 118 starts in Queensland for 14 wins, 24 placings and $63,860.

ASKMENOW REMAINS ON TARGET FOR RICH EVENTS FOR MARES

Up-and-coming four-year-old Askmenow remained unbeaten this season when she proved far too good for her rivals in the 2130m McInerney Ford Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Her decisive victory by one and a half lengths over stablemate Chloe Vargarita enhanced her prospects in the rich feature events for mares next month, the Norm’s Daughter Classic and the group 1 Nepean Conveyors Mares Classic.

Askmenow, trained by Gary Hall sen., was favourite at 5/1 on and she gave her supporters little cause for concern. She started from out wide on the back line and Gary Hall jun. took her three wide in the first circuit to move into the breeze after a lap.

Polemarker Luck Has It set the pace and Hall was content to leave Askmenow in the breeze until he sent her to the front 220m from home. She then raced away to score easily from Chloe Vargarita, a 25/1 chance driven by visiting Victorian horseman Daniel Jack who rattled home from last in the middle stages and seventh at the bell. Arousing (23/1) did well to run home strongly tenth at the bell to be third.

Askmenow, by Washington V C, has been outstanding since arriving in WA where her ten starts for the Hall camp have produced eight wins. She now has a record of 29 starts for ten wins, nine placings and stakes of $99,125.

THE RAGPICKERS DREAM IS A GENTLEMAN, SAYS HALL

Leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. praised The Ragpickers Dream’s gentlemanly manners after driving the New Zealand-bred six-year-old to victory in the 2130m TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“He got a little bit tired late, but the quarters he had run suggested that he would,” Hall said after The Ragpickers Dream had set the pace from the prized No. 1 barrier and had fought on tenaciously to beat Hez The Bart Man by just under a length, with Mighty Flying Thomas an unlucky third.

“He’s probably won the race by being such a gentleman to drive,” Hall said. “He was happy to let Wrongly Accused to race a half-length in front of him and drop the bit and allow me to rate him.

“Hez The Bart Man is a very good horse who never stops and that probably helped me because he was able to keep Mighty Flying Thomas In The Pocket. The Ragpickers Dream was definitely getting very tired late and I was just glad that he was able to hold on.”

The Ragpickers Dream, favourite at 5/1 on, led from barrier one and was joined soon after the start by 25/1 chance Wrongly Accused, who got to a narrow lead in the middle stages. Mighty Flying Thomas (10/1) trailed the leader throughout and was unable to obtain a clear passage in the home straight before finishing a head behind Hez The Bart Man.

The Ragpickers Dream covered the final 800m in 57.2sec. and rated 1.56.9. A winner of 13 races in Victoria, including six in a row in late 2011, he has raced five times in WA for two wins and two seconds. He has earned $110,598 from 15 wins and 11 placings from 45 starts.

PROBLEM PACER TORETTO TAKES A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

“He’s got a lot of problems, but he’s got a lot of bottom to him,” said Gary Hall jun. after driving 5/4 favourite Toretto to an easy victory in the third heat of the Preux Chevalier Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Toretto started from the back line and Hall wasted little time in sending him forward, three wide, to race outside the pacemaker Imtheguy. Finally, Toretto got to a clear lead 100m from the post and then drew away to beat 97/1 outsider Trents Courage by one and a half lengths, with 1m to Imtheguy.

Toretto sprinted over the final 400m in 28.7sec. and rated 1.58 over the 2130m. It was his third start after an absence of 11 months and it took his record to seven starts for five wins, one third and $30,745 in prizemoney.

“Dad has been persistent with him,” said Hall jun. “Toretto is not the easiest horse to get around the circuit, and that’s why I put the pressure on because I didn’t really want a fast last half because he’s a nightmare on the last bend. He was pretty good tonight and it was a step in the right direction.

“He has had a leg problem as well along the way which has set him back for almost a year. The ability has always been there, but getting it out of him has always been the hard thing. We have tried probably every bit that has ever been made, and none of them seemed to work. But he’s worth persisting with.”

GOOD DRAW ENABLES HEAVENS DELIGHT TO RETURN TO THE WINNING LIST

Heavens Delight, unplaced at his previous six starts, made the most of an ideal draw when Gary Hall jun. jumped him straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier and landed him a smart all-the-way winner in the 1730m Nepean Conveyors Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Favourite at 6/4, the New Zealand-bred six-year-old trained by Gary Hall sen., dashed over the first 400m section of the final mile in 29.7sec. before coasting through the next quarter in 31.3sec. He then had plenty in reserve as he sprinted over the final two sections in 29.8sec. and 28.5sec.

He rated 1.58.1 and beat 4/1 second fancy Bet Your Life by just under a length. Polemarker Lombo Air Express ran on to be third after trailing the leader all the way. Heavens Delight has had 33 starts in WA for ten wins and nine placings to take his overall record to 41 starts for 12 wins, nine placings and $80,281.

“He put the writing on the wall at his previous start (when he started out wide on the back line and covered a lot of extra ground before finishing sixth behind Arnoux),” said Hall jun. “That’s not the way he likes to race and I thought he boxed on very well.

“He has been racing well, but hasn’t been able to get a win on the board because of bad draws. He’s a few lengths better on the rail, but he’s probably limited to one or two more wins in town. He does have good sit-sprint capacity, but with the way races are run at Gloucester Park he’d end up nearer last than first if he was driven like that (as a sit-sprinter).”

by Ken Casellas

 

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