Five fillies, led in by winner Mossfun, dominated the finish of the Toohey's New Golden Slipper Stakes (Aus-I), the world's richest 2-year-old race, April 5 at Rosehill Gardens.
Sixteen horses contested the race, worth $3.5 million ($3,249,400 in United States funds), with Mossfun missing the break before turning the tables on Darley's previously undefeated Earthquake, the 2-1 favorite.
Entering with four wins from as many career starts, Earthquake finished second by three-quarters of a length, with Bring Me the Maid third.
With Mossfun off to a slow start, young New Zealand rider James McDonald had to call upon skill, coolness, and luck for the victory. Starting from post 10, he guided the filly across the track to the rail and tagged along near the back of the field, saving ground, as Eloping, Oakleigh Girl and Earthquake set the pace.
Entering the straight, Earthquake made her move down the center of the track, taking over at the 300-meter mark. Mossfun, still hugging the rail, rallied with plenty of energy and the two were matching strides inside the 200 meters, with Mossfun prevailing in the thrilling finish.
"When the gates opened I just couldn't believe it," McDonald said. "I was in shock, but then thought about (Michael) Hawkes' instructions 'Just don't panic, sit back and do your thing and let her do the rest,' and that's what she did. She's a super 2-year-old."
Trained by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes for Emirates Park No. Racing, Mossfun finished second to Earthquake in her previous start, the Parramatta Leagues Club Reisling Slipper Trial Stakes (Aus-I) March 22, suffering her lone defeat in four starts.
The daughter of Mossman's 4-1-0 record from five starts also includes victories in the Silver Slipper Stakes (Aus-II) March 1 and the Widden Stakes (Aus-III) Feb. 15, both at Rosehill Gardens.
Bred by Dr. Ian Duckworth, Mossfun was knocked down to the bid of Trevor Lobb on behalf of Emirates Park for $85,000 ($88,511) when the filly was offered in the Fairview Park Stud consignment at the 2013 Inglis Australian Easter yearling sale last April.
Mossfun, who is out of the Snitzel mare Eye For Fun, races in the colors of Hussain Lootah, the son of Emirates Park's owner Nasser Lootah. She covered 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in 1:12.17 on a course rated as heavy,
"We could not be happier," Lobb said. "Nasser and his son Hussain have put a lot of money into the Australian industry and it's great for them to be here today to collect the Golden Slipper trophy."
Kerrin McEvoy said Earthquake had a "fantastic run" to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Bring Me the Maid.
"When the winner missed the start, I thought I would strike while the iron was hot and go forward," he said. "I ended up cruising across and got a trail off the leader. She traveled nice and gave me a kick on straightening. It's fair to say the softer ground is not to her complete liking."
The card included two other group I races: Silent Achiever once again upstaged former 3-year-old star It's a Dundeel and Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) victor Fiorente in The BMW, and Lucia Valentina won the Vinery Stud Stakes.
The stellar field of nine for The BMW boasted all group I winners with 14 top-level wins between them.
Third early, the winner flashed a devastating turn of foot in the straight, rallying swiftly on the outside and seizing the lead at the 200-meter mark. In trying for a last-to-first victory, It's a Dundeel finished second, 1 3/4 lengths back, and Fiorente was third.
Silent Achiever scored a fourth consecutive win in completing 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) in 2:34.29. She came in off a 3 1/2-length triumph over Carlton House in the Ranvet Rawson Stakes (Aus-I) March 22 at Rosehill Gardens, a race in which It's a Dundeel was third and Fiorente was seventh.
"We will probably read some excuses in tomorrow's paper but she beat them fair and square, really," trainer Roger James told TVN.
The 5-year-old O'Reilly mare has a 10-3-2 record from 25 career starts for owner-breeder K. J. Hickman, who bred her out of the Zabeel mare Winning Spree.
Lucia Valentina stamped herself as the early favorite for the AJC Oaks (Aus-I) with her one-length victory over Solicit in the Vinery Stud Stakes.
With Hugh Bowman riding for trainer Kris Lees, the New Zealand-bred Savabeel filly scored a breakthrough at the top level after a tardy start but got a rail-skimming trip, slipping through on the inside and wearing down front-running Solicit for the win.
Lucia Valentina was timed in 2:07.07 to record her third win from eight career starts.
"Hugh had no other option than to go into the worse going up the fence and she was strong at the finish like we expected her to be," Lees told www.abc.net.au. "She's a genuine stayer and she'll improve again off that."
Lucia Valentina is out of the Montjeu mare Staryn Glenn.
Elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, Easdon No. 4 Racing Syndicate's Viadana tallied a third group I win in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Te Aroha.
With Viadana well back after the break, Chintz set the early pace and was still leading into the straight. Ridden by Craig Grylls for trainer Lance Noble, the winner advanced to fifth after entering the straight, and was all out in proving much the best in a 2 1/4-length triumph. Recite got up for second, with Chintz hanging on for third.
Viadana, by Towkay—Yeah Nah, by Kinjite, won the NRM Waikato Sprint (NZ-I) Feb. 8 and the 2013 Easter Handicap (NZ-I). Her record stands at 11-6-2 from 29 starts. She was bred in New Zealand by Little Avondale Trust.