Romantic Touch Dominates in J. J. Atkins

The gelding controlled Australia's final group I race of the season for 2-year olds.

Romantic Touch took control out of the gate and won the Aus$500,000 Patinack Farm J. J. Atkins (Aus-I) from previously undefeated Zoustar, leading a one-two finish for freshman sire Northern Meteor.

Run at Eagle Farm Racecourse June 8, the race is the season's final group I event for 2-year-olds and was previously run as the T. J. Smith.

Trained by Gai Waterhouse, Romantic Touch was fractious in the gate but was all business at the start. Ridden by Nash Rawiller, he settled comfortably to set the pace and secured the half-length win 300 meters out when his rider gave the cue.

The 2-1 favorite in his stakes debut, Romantic Touch was timed in 1:36.54 for 1,600 meters (about one mile) on turf rated as dead. The brown gelding entered off a 7 1/2-length victory May 22 at Canterbury and earned a third consecutive win from five career starts. 

A homebred of Gooree Pastoral Company, Romantic Touch is the first winner at the group I level for Northern Meteor, who stands at Widden Stud in New South Wales.

Trainer Chris Waller's Zoustar was the 4-1 second favorite following his victory in the Al Basti Equiworld BRC Sires Produce Stakes (Aus-II) May 25 at Doomben. He tried valiantly to catch Romantic Touch but settled for second.

Paximadia finished third, a short head behind Zoustar, in the 13-horse field.

Romantic Touch made his career debut in December at Warwick Farm, finishing fifth, and subsequently was gelded. Returning in April at Canterbury, he finished seventh to Zoustar in a maiden race but has been unbeatable since then.

Romantic Touch is out of the winning Snippets mare Dearness, a half sister to Australian champion Desert War and group I winner Laser Hawk. He is the third stakes winner for group I winner Northern Meteor, a 7-year-old by Encosta de Lago.