By Sarah Whitelaw
Favored In The Fast Lane won an emotional Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas (SAf-I) at Kenilworth on the afternoon of Dec. 7.
The Guineas, the first grade I race of the Cape summer season, was run just two days after the death of South African icon Nelson Mandela, and a moment of silence was held to honor his legacy.
Won by some of South Africa’s greatest distaffers, the Fillies Guineas is a race with a rich and colorful history. Recent winners include the talented half-sisters Ebony Flyer and Captain’s Lover, champion Princess Victoria, and subsequent Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) hero Sun Classique.
This year's 1,600-meter event (about one mile), worth 1 million rand (about $95,656 in U.S. funds, attracted a strong and competitive line up of 16 runners.
Leading Cape trainer Justin Snaith, who had previously won the race three times, had a strong hand with no fewer than four runners including In The Fast Lane and Highly Decorated (6-1), first and second in the recent Guineas trial, the Choice Carriers Fillies Championship (SAf-II).
Other fancied runners included last season’s champion 2-year-old filly, Along Came Polly (5-1), and the very consistent Alascan Maiden (6-1).
Highly Decorated broke well and jumped out to set the early pace, ahead of She’s A Pippa and Pure Power. In The Fast Lane, raced well back early on, and was nearer last than first.
Highly Decorated kept going gamely into the straight, when she was challenged by Alascan Maiden. The latter kicked on with a furlong to go, but was overhauled by In The Fast Lane, who produced a strong finish up the center of the Kenilworth straight, and won going away by a length.
Lanner Falcon, a 25-1 chance, put up an impressive performance back in second, as the Trippi filly came from last to fly up for the runner-up berth. Along Came Polly was not disgraced in third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths while ahead of Alascan Maiden and Sea Cat.
In The Fast Lane, who has now won four of her six outings to date, is owned by Tony Phillips in partnership with Wood Hall Stud Limited (nominee Andrew Cohen).
Bred by Hallmark Thoroughbreds, In The Fast Lane is the second major winner in a week for her deceased sire Jet Master. The latter is also responsible for Yorker, winner of the Sansui Summer Cup (SAf-I) Nov. 30. In The Fast Lane is the 20th individual grade/group I winner sired by Jet Master, who died in 2011. Another Jet Master filly, Ebony Flyer, won the Fillies Guineas in 2010.
Saturday’s winner is out of the classy Northern Guest mare First Arrival, who won six races in Zimbabwe including the grade III Oaks. In The Fast Lane is the second grade I winner for her dam, who previously produced Golden Horse Casino Sprint winner Let’s Rock ‘N Roll.
In The Fast Lane's fourth dam, Party Time, won the Cape Fillies Guineas in 1975.
Snaith was ecstatic about capturing the race for the fourth time in the past seven years. Snaith had previously been successful in the Cape Fillies Guineas with Captain's Lover, Sparkling Gem, and Ebony Flyer.
He described Saturday’s winner as being "unconscious in her work," but added that In The Fast Lane clearly lives up to her name on the track.