Australia's latest age-group harness racing sensation - Sushi Sushi will leave Australia in two weeks bound for New Zealand where he will look to emulate last Friday night's (February 4) Group One $200,000 Alabar Victoria Derby win at Melton's Tabcorp Park in the Woodlands Northern and New Zealand Derbies.
The brilliant son ofand Sabilize dealt to Australasia's best 3-year-olds on Friday crushing his opponents by an increasing 6.4 metres. He is trained and driven by another two rising stars on the Australian harness racing scene - Fred Taiba and Greg Sugars.
Taiba said Sushi Sushi would line up in the Group One $400,000 Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park on March 11 before heading south to Christchurch for the $250,000 Group OneNew Zealand Derby on April 9.
In between those two races he will also line up in the $40,000 Group Two First Sovereign Trust Flying Stakes, also at Addington Raceway on April 1.
Taiba said depending how he came through the Derbies would determine if he would line his stable star in the Group One Harness Jewels Emerald Final at Ashburton on June 11.
"It's not out of the question. It all depends how he goes in New Zealand and comes through his races there," Taiba said.
Taiba trains Sushi Sushi with his brothers Ahmed and Sam at Sunbury in Victoria. Friday's Derby win was just the tonic the family was looking for after their 13-win pacer Ghadasbest had to be put down following the running of the $20,000 New Year Sprint at Melton's Tabcorp Park on January 7.
"I've only been training for a couple of years and it's amazing to think I have already got a horse this good. To win a Derby so soon is a dream come true," 28-year-old Taiba said.
"I'm also delighted for Greg and Sam, because we are all pretty young as far as training and driving goes," he added.
He steeped special praise on his young brother and strapper Sam, who cared for Sushi Sushi almost day and night.
"He wrapped the horse in cotton wool and has done a wonderful job with him. It's a real family affair. I couldn't have achieved this without my brothers," said Taiba who has three of his own horses in work.
Sushi Sushi is owned by a group of Victorian businessmen spearheaded by syndicate manager Adrian Cendron. They paid $35,000 for him at the APG Sales in Melbourne two years ago.
"They are a fantastic group of owners - just what every trainer would want. I'm so happy for the whole four of them (Cendron, P Sequenzia, P D'Alessi, A Sergi)," Taiba said.
Sugars described Sushi Sushi as the best horse he had driven saying he could have sat outside the leaders and won. "That's how good he felt."
Sushi Sushi drew the second line and settled back before Sugars made a bid for the lead at the 500m. They sat parked before pressing on to the lead at the 800m. Once they got to the front the race was for second. Sushi Sushi paced the 2,240m mobile in 2:41 with a slashing 1:55.7 mile rate.
Lead time: 46.1. First quarter: 28.4. Second quarter: 30.7. Third quarter: 27.7. Last quarter: 28.1.
Taiba said Sushi Sushi had everything a trainer could possibly want in a pacer - strength, speed, stamina and versatility.
"I feel privileged to have come across a horse this good so soon in my training career. It's a dream come true and a Derby win is always worth celebrating. That's why you couldn't even contact me on Sunday. We were still celebrating," Taiba said.
Sushi Sushi was always destined to be a bit special with parents likeand Sabilize (No Nukes - Sable Hanover).
(1:48.4) was an American superstar winning 32 of his 49 starts and $3.2 million, while American bred Sabilize won 31 of her 54 starts in Australia and $355,056 in purses. Her quickest mile rate was 1:55.7.
Sushi Sushi was bred by Weona Standardbreds.
by Duane RANGER (editor)
2011 Alabar Victoria Derby: