$800 Yearling Wins Sandown Classic

Count Ricardo, an $800 (Australian funds) yearling, defeated a trio of experienced northern hemisphere campaigners to easily win a soggy edition of the $500,000 Sandown Classic (Aust-II) Nov 13.

He rocketed to fame in mixing it with high profile 3-year-olds, Plastered and Savabeel, when a close third in the Victoria Derby (Aust-I) 14 days earlier. It prompted his crew to attempt the 2,400 meters of Sandown.

None of his age had won the race for 30 years, a handful contesting in the first five editions after the switch from a handicap to weight-for-age. Under the scale, he carried 49.5kg (109 pounds) including Blake Shinn.

The weight appeared pivotal in the final stages as the 5-2 favorite strode clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths from Godolphin entry Fantastic Love (by Peintre Celebre). Media Puzzle (10-1, by Theatrical), at his third race since winning the 2002 Melbourne Cup (Aust-I), deprived Confectioner (Bubble Gum Fellow) of third a farther length back in 2:37.94.

Count Ricardo is one of six foals which comprise the thirdh crop of Principality, the horse switched back to racing for two years.

Principality and his Victory Prince were juvenile group I winners and trace to Sir Ivor through Imperial Prince. The English and Irish Derby second also sired Ricardo's dam, Shanghai Surprise.

Ricardo was bred by Les Theodore, father of trainer Stephen, and Michael Ralston. To disolve the partnership the colt was sent to a mixed sale in June, 2003. She was knocked down to part-owner Paul Damjanovic.

Les Theodore found two champions in Campaign King and Japan Cup (Jpn-I) winner Better Loosen Up in the 1980s, and bought them for a song but re-sold them.

Stephen says Count Ricardo is "no oil-painting, but all heart. And he stays tremendously well." He must look good to his syndicate of owners, the classic doubling his earnings to $542,000.