Alinghi Ready For U.S. Assault

Forty minutes before Makybe Diva completed one of the biggest days in racing for Lee Freedman, with a history-making Australian Cup success March 12, the handler's table was set by a grand win by Alinghi in the Newmarket Handicap (Aust-I). Freedman has trained more than 100 group I winners.

In a stunning preview for turf racing against distaffers to a mile in the United States, the 3-year-old filly won the 132nd edition of Flemington's famous straight 1,200 meters sprint in 1:08.10. The first filly of her age to click by $3 million (Australian funds) took the $1 million contest by 1 1/4 lengths from her brave rival Fastnet Rock.

This was a rematch of the sprinting sophomores. The Danehill colt prevailed in the shorter Lightning Stakes over 1,000 meters of Flemington Feb 5. That was at weight-for-age and this time with 2kg over the scale at 57kg (126 lbs), Fastnet Rock was asked to buck history to complete the Melbourne Sprint Triple Crown, having also won the Oakleigh Plate (Aust-I) with 57kg Feb 26. Ajax in 1938 was the only 3-year-old to successfully carry 57kg and he was a champion.

Fastnet Rock is raced by a Coolmore six headed by Sue Magnier, while the filly named for Switzerland's America's Cup holder is raced by a group four times larger, after syndicators, Rob and Corinna Slade snared the Piney Ridge-bred filly for $80,000 at the 2003 Melbourne premier yearling sale. That price might not secure a share in Fastnet Rock, but the Encosta de Lago filly now also boasts a lofty value.

Glen Boss kept Fastnet Rock in touch with the speed as Don't Tell Tom took the smallest Newmarket field (10) through the first 600 meters in :34.06. The 9-4 chance looked good when taken to the front 300 meters out.

But after being seventh early, Damien Oliver produced Alinghi with a perfectly timed run and, with an advantage of 3.5kg, the 9-10 favorite's finish proved unstoppable. Alinghi is the sixth 3-year-old filly to win the major sprint, her 53.5kg being 0.5kg shy of the weight record.

Fastnet Rock swished his tail in disgust after being headed but fought on manfully. It was another great trial for his target in the English summer sprints.

Foreplay ran on gamely another 1 1/4 lengths away to just hold third at expense of Spinning World's 2003 Victoria Oaks (Aust-I) winner Special Harmony. Foreplay is another of the not quite endless supply of Danehills, and from a daughter of Jade Hunter.