Day At The Track

Franco Santino smashes mile record

10:38 PM 24 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Franco Santino,Harness racing
Franco Santino after winning at Winton
Photo Bruce Stewart

Mile racing, more than most, is about breaking records and Neville Cleaver - owner of Franco Santino which smashed the Southland three year old record at the Wairio meeting today, was over the moon about not only the win, but the record that came with it.

And so too was the horse's trainer and driver Nathan Williamson

"Thrilled to be doing that. We were humming along right from the start. We'll have to look at the Southern Supremacy now," he said after the Christian Cullen colt ran out the mile in 1-52.0.

The super quick time was set up by Mach's Back who lead for driver Dexter Dunn from barrier one with Franco Santino getting the perfect run behind the leader. Turning in, Dunn pinched a break and Williamson decided not to take the passing lane and drove Franco Santino down the middle of the track to get up by half a neck. 

"That other horse was really making him work to get there but my horse just kept coming and he was real genuine."

Franco Santino (2) getting the better of Mach's Back          - Photo Bruce Stewart.

The time of 1-52.0 broke Gentle Western's three year old colts and gelding track and Southland record of 1-55.0 set in 2013. It also bettered Fly Like An Eagle's Open Geldings and Entires record of 1-53.9. The all-comers track record of 1-51.9 is held by Delightful Memphis. 

"He's still pretty physically immature. We just have to make sure we look after him all the way. We have to space his races." 

The win was Williamson's 199th as a trainer. 

Cleaver, who likes to look deep into a horses pedigree said that he was taken by Franco Santino's second dam's time trial record of 1-52.6 and the rich pedigree the colt had on his dam's side.  

"Before I went to the sales to buy him I looked at the breeding and thought what a lovely well bred horse this is. I showed Nathan a picture of him before we went there and he said yeah buy it. I managed to get him for $55,000. The brother at the next years sale went for $190,000," he said.  

Cleaver expects the phone will ring with buyer interest, but he said he loves to race them.

"It's about putting a few cups on the mantlepiece." 

Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness racing


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