Red Dazzler had promised a southern grade I success for Red Ransom
, and crew from the time he hit the tracks running early last year. And although belated, the colt delivered with a grand win in the $350,000 (Australian funds) Toorak Handicap (Aus-I) on Oct 14.
Under Jim Cassidy, the colt triumphed at his fifth group I attempt, toughing it out at the end of the Caulfield mile to prevail by a half neck over Sheik Hamdan al Maktoum's talented filly, Rewaaya. The 4-year-olds had a length to spare over the year older Niconera (14-1) at the wire, reached in a slow 1:37.58 after Rewaaya's rider Dwayne Dunn got away with a series of extremely soft sectionals. The gross was 1.6 seconds slower than posted by the 3-year-olds in the Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I) a race earlier.
Cassidy paid tribute to his mount's courage in describing him as a 'bulldog' in wearing down the pacemaker after Dunn was almost able to steal a second grade I for her. The Singspiel
filly won the Rupert Clarke (Aus-I) at 1,400 meters on Sept 23.
Trainer Mick Price sidestepped that race for a larger challenge with Red Dazzler, sending him to Sydney for the George Main Stakes (Aus-I). They came away with a brave one-length second to split top line locals Racing to Win and Desert War. That performance saw him start a 3-1 elect for the 121st Toorak, Rewaaya a point longer.
Red Dazzler will meet the above-named pair in the W.S. Cox Plate (Aus-I) on Oct 24 over the Moonee Valley's 2,040 meters, another sizable challenge for a colt in uncharted territory beyond 1,600 meters. But the spoils for owners Melvin Foo and partner Suat Wee go way beyond the $3 million purse.
Red Ransom's first Australian grade I winner, Charge Forward, started his stud career on the powerful Arrowfield roster last spring at a $22,500 season.
Jim Atkinson bred Red Dazzler in sending his well-related Danehill daughter, Vain Hill, to Red Ransom in his fifth season at Vinery's Australian base. Vinery's veteran Roberto son has eight graded winners in Australia as he works his eighth southern season. She is currently in foal to him again.
Vain Hill's sixth foal won at his first two starts, the second at listed level and when he won the Moonee Valley (Aus-II) at 1,600 meters two runs later he appeared a gilt-edged grade I prospect. Red Dazzler was sent forth as a 38-10 favorite in the Caulfield Guineas but ran the worst race of his career in beating just one of the dozen runners to the wire.
Still immature in the fall, he ran second in the Futurity (Aus-I) at 1,400 meters against the older horses, but again flopped when eighth in the Australian Guineas (Aus-I).
At 4 the colt has come right into his own. Out of the Toorak, with earnings of almost $670,000 and four wins and five seconds from 14 starts, his first grade I success might just be a stepping stone to wider fame.
FOOTNOTE: Racing to Win should become a heavy Cox elect after co-favorite El Segundo flopped when third in his final prep, the $400,000 Caulfield Stakes (Aus-I) on Oct 14.
Sent out a 4-9 favorite to defend his win in the race last year, El Segundo could only manage a disappointing third behind Casual Pass and Pompeii Ruler. A half head separated the first pair, both of whom confirmed their places in the Cox. Like Red Dazzler, Mick Price trains Pompeii Ruler.