Day At The Track

Marfisi wins first up

02:15 PM 21 Feb 2017 NZDT
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Duane Marfisi

Our Sky Major (formerly Sky Major) has won his first race in Canada – just a couple of months after he and trainer Duane Marfisi arrived in back in his homeland of Canada.

The 6-year-old Art Major - Sky Beauty (by In The Pocket), who was the 4/5 favourite, won on debut in the hands of Doug McNair on Sunday (NZ time) in two degree temperatures - in 1:50.2.

Starting from the outside arm (nine of nine) Our Sky Major N hit the lead down the back straight and then left his eight opponents to it winning by one-and-three quarter lengths from five-to-one shot Carraco Hanover (6) and Sylvain Filion. There was five-and-a-quarter lengths back to 10-to-one prospect Sportsmanship (1) and Andrew Macdonald in third.

His sectionals were 12.4, 26.3, 56.1, 1:22.4, 1:50.2.

The $16,000 Mobile Mile was for pacers who have not won in Canada in their last five starts and earned $9,000 or less - or for pacers who haven't won in their last 10 starts and have earned $18,000 or less.

Marfisi, who was stable foreman at Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s barn in Rolleston for three seasons was as he put it: ‘ absolutely rapt’.

“I am very pleased with his progress and the win just capped it all off. He was a wee bit afraid of the snow when he first saw it piled up.

“I tip my hat to Barry Purdon. It's easy to work with a horse that has been educated perfectly. He is one of the most intelligent horses I have ever worked with!” Marfisi said.

Marfisi said Sky Major went into the race after winning his second qualifier by 18 lengths, pacing the mile in 1:56.

“In his first trial he was second to another former Kiwi, Brilliant Strike, who is trained by another former New Zealander, Tony O'Sullivan.

"The big horse ate up as fast as he raced. Trevor (Casey) and I went over the stakes and we have staked him to a lot of great aged pacing races. It's exciting to think you have a player!" said Marfisi, who has trained more than 300 winners in Canada.

He said Sky Major flew over on October 23 and went straight to Blairwood Farms for a fortnight before being shipped to a former employee of his for his jog prep.

"I arrived on December 15 and started to apply the 'Allstars' fast-work program and it has worked a treat. 'Sky' is still a tad fat, and a bit blown up over the back, so better things are still to come," Marfisi said.

Credit must go to Trev for flying him over and giving me a chance. It is not a cheap investment.

Sky Major is owned by ‘New Zealand’s man-of-the-moment’, Trevor Casey and John Lohman.

Casey said he always had faith in Sky Major.

“When and when Duane was going back to Canada it was a no brainer to ask him if he would train him for us.

John I originally owned an 18 per cent share each and when syndicate wanted to sell him we brought the other 64 per cent.

“We the sent him over in hope he would capture his former form that saw him win several Group One races here and in Australia,” Casey said.

“It wasn’t a cheap exercise but we both had faith in him,” he added.

Casey said he got to know Marfisi when he worked for the ‘All Stars Stable’ and soon learnt to tresp-ect his worldly knowledge.

“He is a nice guy with so much standardbred knowledge. We sat down and mapped out a few series that we staked him for.

“Perhaps the Meadowlands one day, but at this very early stage we are enjoying the ride and taking it one day at a time with him,” said Christchurch-based Casey

Casey will have two starters in Saturday night’s prestigious 50th Miracle Mile in Sydney – New Zealand Cup winner Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach.

He was obviously delighted with the Canadian result but hinted Lazarus would not be following Sky Major to the Northern Hemisphere.

“Probably not because Mark said there were p-lenty of nice stakes and big races for him down here. There’s plenty of money on offer Down Under including another New Zealand Cup and possibly an Interdominion.

“Another reason he would stay ‘Down Under’ would be because he has a lucrative stud career here when he retires,” Casey said.

Sky Major won 15 of his 52 starts in New Zealand and placed 18 times for $796,486 in stakes. His Group One wins were:

The New Zealand 4yo Messenger beating Tiger Tara and Ohoka Punter in April 2015; Three Jewels crowns at two, three and four years of age, and in Australia he nailed the 2015 Chariots Of Fire as well as numerous other Group and Listed placings.

Marfisi came to New Zealand in early 2014 because his wife, Janet, had gained a position at the Christchurch Hospital.

Until then he had worked with horses in Ontario for many years. In fact he had a star of the tracks some years ago with Dali who had the misfortune to be born in the same crop as Somebeachsomewhere.

That didn't stop Dali from winning major events at the Meadowlands as well as in Ontario. when establishing himself as the fastest juvenile in the world. His landmark victory was in the Woodrow Wilson at two a huge performance and he held the world record on a 1000m track at three when Somebeachsomewhere stole all the glory. But Dali still won $C1.4m and took a mark of 1.48.,2 before being retired to stud.

Marfisi worked with the leading horsemen in Canada before setting up on his own and spent about 20 years training around 25 horses in Ontario. and try and get one who could take you all the way.

“Dali (Real Artist) was a great horse but he was just born the wrong year," said Marfisi.

His win on Saturday night (Canada time) can be viewed here:

 

Duane Ranger

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