Delectation burst through in the nick of time for a Darley Classic upset and Turn Me Loose won a third straight race in taking the Emirates Stakes, both group I events in an Aus$1 million doubleheader Nov. 7 at Flemington.
Delectation prevailed in the tightest of finishes in the Darley Classic as only a whisker separated him from runner-up and favorite Chautauqua, and last year's race winner Terravista; New Zealand-bred Turn Me Loose led the all the way in the Emirates Stakes and held off fast-closing Politeness in a close finish, with Rock Sturdy third.
With James McDonald riding, Delectation was timed in 1:10.07 for 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) on turf rated as soft. Turn Me Loose completed the 1,600-meter journey with Kerrin McEvoy in 1:36.25. Both winners were sired by Darley stallions: Delectation is by Shamardal and Turn Me Loose was sired by Iffraaj.
Buffering led early in the Darley Classic, while the odds-on favorite Chautauqua raced three wide without cover. The field packed up in the last desperate strides, with Delectation, Chautauqua, and Terravista crossing the line almost together. Buffering faded to a close fourth.
Delectation, trained by Chris Waller for Macau-based C.C. Lai,, turned the tables on Chautauqua, who defeated him in a group II race at Flemington last month. The 4-year-old gelding won for the first time at the elite level Saturday and improved to 5-5-1 from 20 starts and earnings of Aus$1,421,275. He also won the 2014 Arrowfield Three-Year-Old Sprint (Aus-II) and runner-up finish in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Aus-I).
Bred in Australia by G. J. Perry, Delectation is out of U.S. stakes winner Grace and Power
, a daughter of More Than Ready who was runner-up in the 2007 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. II). Lai bought him for Aus$250,000 (US$260,325) from consignor Vinery Stud at the 2013 Inglis Easter yearling sale. Grace and Power sold for $700,000 to Australia-based bloodstock agent Steven Brem, who bought her in foal to Giant's Causeway
, at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. The resulting foal is four-time winner Pocket Power.
In the Emirates Stakes, Bow Street and Disposition were co-favorites, but neither shone in a race dominated by speed-loving Turn Me Loose.
Ecuador, Coronation Shallan, and Disposition pursued early, but as they turned for home Turn Me Loose was still full of running to get the win for Murray Baker and an ownership group.
"He's a very good miler, he's so big and strong and he runs great sectionals and makes it hard for horses behind him," Baker said, adding that the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) in December might be next for his runner.
Winner of the 2014 New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (NZ), Turn Me Loose came into Saturday's race with back-to-back stakes wins: the Schweppes Crystal Mile (Aus-II) Oct. 24 at Moonee Valley and Darley Seymour Cup Oct. 18. He has a 6-3-1 career line from 11 starts and Aus$1,133,603 in purse earnings.
Bred by George and Maryanne Simon, Turn Me Loose sold for NZ$52,500 ($43,754) at the 2013 New Zealand Bloodstock ready-to-run sale. His dam is the Danehill mare Indomitable, and second dam is Kwan (Sadler's Wells) is a sister in blood to 1993 Fillies Mile (Eng-I) winner Fairy Heights (Fairy King).