Miss Andretti Motors to Newmarket Handicap Win

In the euphoria which followed Miss Andretti’s record breaking Newmarket Handicap (Aus-I) success on March 10, Lee Freedman placed the mare on the same elevated plane as Makybe Diva.

From any other it might be taken as sacrelige. But Freedman prepared the Diva for the last two of her three Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) successes, plus a string of select weight-for-age wins.

He also gained Miss Andretti from another source when the original owner, Perth trainer David Mueller, sold a controlling interest in  the distaffer to Sean Buckley last year, before the Keith and Peggy Beauglehole-bred filly turned 5.

She might be a one-turn horse but her star turns are starting to add up.

The AUS$1 million Newmarket gave the mare named for the Formula I World Champion Mario Andretti an unprecedented quartet of major sprints in a single season.

Her winning time of 1:07.74 sliced 36/100th from the 1,200 meters’ track record but, amazingly, it won’t go into the books as a race record — the 134th edition held at Caulfield with Flemington under major repair. Set 11 years ago, the Newmarket race record is listed as 67.7 seconds

She had won the Manikato, William Reid and the Lighting Stakes, all grade I at Moonee Valley, the latter also transferred from Flemington’s straight course.

As the 3-1 elect, Miss Andretti belatedly overpowered second favorite Gold Edition (7-2) to win by a head.

Darwin’s Oakleigh Plate (Aus-I) hero Undue (13-1) flashed home late to finish third only a neck away. The crowded photo showed him to be only a nose ahead of the also brave Magnus (10-1).

Miss Andretti raced wide throughout from the #11 gate, Craig Newitt putting her into the race just off the speed in fourth. Her winning challenge gave the Tasmanian rider a wonderful 22nd birthday present. Another was added 100 minutes later when he also triumphed on Pompeii Ruler in the Australian Cup (Aus-I).

Gold Edition appeared to be hampered slightly as the leader Dance Hero started to hang away from the rail into the bend, after clearing the first 600 meters in :34.32. The high class 3-year-old filly rallied courageously when challenged by Magnus on her inside and Andretti from her right.

After the dust settled from the memorable finish, Miss Andretti’s earnings rose by $605,000 to $2,112,600. The $180,000 for second kept Gold Edition marginally ahead on $2,182,195.

Miss Andretti was the only one of the dozen runners to carry more than weight-for-age, her 56 kilograms (123 pounds) a kilogram over.

One other female has successfully carried more weight in the past century, Maybe Mahal with 56.5kg in 1978, the year Mario won his F1 Crown.

Andretti, the feted daughter of little-known Royal Academy son Ihtiram, carries a 24-start, 16-win record to England for the major sprints, successfully targeted in recent years by Choisir and Takeover Target.

FOOTNOTE: Soon after the 1-2 by distaffers in the Newmarket, another stole the limelight at Auckland’s Ellerslie oval when Gaze upstaged Sir Slick in the New Zealand Stakes (NZ-I) at 2,000 meters.

Her narrow victory provided the third individual New Zealand grade I winner for Darley stallion Cape Cross. The Green Desert son is also the sire of dual grade I winner Seachange and the ill-fated Mikki Street. All four victories have come in weight-for-age events.

Attempting to win a fourth grade I on end, Sir Slick was also brave in going under by a half head. Another Volksraad horse, Dezigna, was third to complete a full set of placings for sons of Green Desert.

Gaze is from the second of four crops sired by Cape Cross at Cambridge Stud to 2003. He has since stayed north at Darley’s Irish farm, Kildangan. Volksraad is rostered at Windsor Park and apart from  Sir Slick is the sire of Willy Smith, the Wellington Cup (NZ-I) winner in  January.

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