Starcraft Takes Step Toward Cox Plate

Exciting colt Starcraft duly advanced another step toward next month's W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) in taking the Stoney Bridge Stakes (NZ-II) at Hastings Sept. 18. But few who saw the prohibitive favorite win by long neck from pacemaker Miss Potential were aware of the drama at the start.

The 1-3 betting choice clipped the starting gate as it swung back on him. The mishap upset plans to have the reigning Australian Derby winner race up on the speed, to widen his options for the $3 million (Australian funds) Cox Oct. 23.

Instead, he and his Sydney jockey Glen Boss were forced to race wide in midfield after losing at least two lengths at the jump. The hulking Soviet Star son appeared to take a long time to reel in the leaders. Boss had to resort to two cuts with the whip when Miss Potential responded gamely to his mid-stretch challenge.

Boss was able to take hold near the wire and appears spot on for the Kelt Capital Stakes (NZ-I) Oct 2. Irish Rover fought on well for third a half-length back of Miss Potential. The weight-for-age contest was over in 1:36.31 for the mile.

Starcraft was last month voted Australia's leading 3-year-old. His nine wins from 14 races include three group I wins and netted the colt's owners almost $2 million. He was purchased as a yearling in Auckland for $80,000 (NZ funds).