Perlin Sounds Melbourne Cup Alert With Victory

Perlin sounded a warning for the Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) with a wire-to-wire win in the Underwood Stakes (Aus-I) at Caulfield on Sept. 17.

The victory came amid a backdrop of acrimony between Perlin's owner, Lloyd Williams and his regular jockey Dan Nikolic, and the Victoria Racing Club stewards.

VRC stewards had 24 hours earlier charged Nikolic with failing to give the Williams-owned Activation full opportunity to win a race at Flemington on Sept 3. The horse finished seventh, three lengths from the winner. In defending his jockey, the high-profile owner repeatedly clashed with stewards during the Sept 16 inquiry.

At one point Williams said, "The person you should rub out is me. It would save me $10 or $15 million a year."

The charge is slated for hearing on Sept 26.

Chief steward Des Gleeson had reportedly warned Nikolic over his apparent soft ride on Perlin in the Liston Stakes last month.

The $350,000 (Australian funds) weight-for-age was Perlin's first run beyond a mile this campaign and Nikolic pushed him into the lead from 11-4 elect Confectioner (sixth) as the 15 broke from the 1,800 meters' start.

Nikolic slowed the tempo coming to the 600 meter and a wall of challenges came at the top of the lane. But they came to naught; the rider allowed the 6-year-old more rein and they dashed clear again on straightening.

In the run home Perlin was untroubled to score by 1 1/2 lengths from another 6-1 chance Our Smoking Joe.

Perlin's 1:52.69 in the heavy ground is easily the slowest since the race lost a furlong a decade ago.

She's Justa Tad (11-1) ran on resolutely to be a neck away third. Last season's New Zealand One Thousand Guineas and Oaks (both NZ-I) winner appears on target for the $3 million Cox Plate (Aus-I, 2,040m) at Moonee Valley on Oct 23.

Perlin might advance to the $5 million Melbourne Cup via the Cox. Williams and trainer Graeme Rogerson are anxious to avoid flirting with a possible weight penalty to his 54.5kg (120 pounds), by running in the Caulfield Cup (Aus-I, 2,400m) on Oct 16.

Lightly raced due to injury at 3, Perlin has won at eight of 14 starts, amassing $820,000 to date. The gelded Carnegie son collected his first grade I in May in taking the Doomben Cup at 2,200 meters in Brisbane.

Bred in New Zealand by Teresa and Bill Hurlstone, Perlin is the second foal from stakes winner Midnight Madam, by Sir Tristram grade I winner Kaapstad.

Caulfield and Melbourne Cup favorite Plastered lost no admirers with his seventh after looming up momentarily out wide into the final bend. The reigning Victoria and Western Australian Derby (both Aus-I) champ is best suited on top of the ground.

There were several other sound trials for races farther into the spring, most notably from fourth and fifth Sir Dex and English distaffer Flowerdrum.

But the big noise is Perlin, perhaps named for Ken Perlin, an Academy Award winner in 1997 for technical achievement. Perlin noise is widely used in computer graphics for special movie effects like fire, smoke and clouds.