Woodruff Dominates South Africa's Summer Cup

Yorker edges favored Master Sabina by a neck as powerful yard takes top three spots.

By Sarah Whitelaw

Gauteng trainer Geoff Woodruff's runners, led by the winner Yorker and runner-up Master Sabina, dominated the finish of the Sansui Summer Cup (SAf-I) Nov. 30 at Turffontein in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Runners from the powerful yard finished in the top three spots. His Yorker got the better of stable companion and favorite Master Sabina to win by a neck, with another Woodruff runner, Tellina storming home to finish third.

Yet another of Woodruff's charges, the Australian-bred Killua Castle, finished fifth.

One of South Africa’s top three handicap contests, the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4 miles) Summer Cup attracted a competitive field of 20. With no outstanding candidate, Master Sabina was sent out a weak 5-1 favorite ahead of Ilha Bela, who was bidding to emulate her dam Ilha Da Vitoria, and Yorker. The latter, who went to post with a lead pony, came into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Charity Mile (SAf-II), and had to overcome some stamina doubts.

As the field jumped, the early running was cut out by 20-1 shot Smanjemanje, who took the field along ahead of last year’s Summer Cup winner Wagner, and star filly Cherry On The Top. The eventual winner raced well off the early pace, while stablemate Master Sabina suffered a wide trip throughout the running. Turning for home, Smanjemanje still held the lead, clearly under sufferance. As the race unfolded over the final 400 meters, any of 10 horses were still in contention.

Yorker, under a first-class ride by former champion jockey Anton Marcus, began to unwind a strong run up the inside of the track, while Master Sabina and Tellina made steady progress up the center of the track.

Yorker hit the front with 100 meters left and held off the late charge of Master Sabina, with Tellina another 1 1/4 lengths away in third.

Marcus, was elated after his win and admitted, in the  post race interview, to doubting Yorker’s stamina over the trip.

A pricey yearling buy, Yorker is owned by Bernard Kantor and Jim Lewis, in partnership with Ingrid and Markus Jooste. It was a Summer Cup double for the Joostes, who were victorious last year with Wagner.

The Summer Cup was also a triumph for former champion stallion Jet Master, who sired both Yorker and Master Sabina. Yorker’s triumph provided his late sire with his first-ever win in the Summer Cup, a race previously won by such champions as El Picha, Ilha Da Vitoria, and Dancewiththedevil. Jet Master, now the sire of 19 grade I winners, had three runners in this year’s Sansui Summer Cup.

Bred by Amanda and Carl De Vos, the 4-year-old Yorker was a 1,800,000-rand purchase (about $177,151 in U.S. funds) at the 2011 Cape Premier Yearling Sale. Out of the Al Mufti mare Little Indian, Saturday’s Summer Cup hero is a half brother to stakes-placed juvenile The Raj.

The gelding has now won four of his nine outings.