Pantani Takes South Australian Derby

The first southern generation of Pentire belatedly stepped up to center stage as Pantani collected the South Australian Derby (Aust-I) at Adelaide's Morphettville oval on May 11. It was close, the Danny Nikolic partnered Pantani hanging on by just a nose from Silver Baron, a son of former shuttler Defensive Play.

Pentire's maiden success in a classic might have come sooner as Pentastic placed in the Victorian and Australian Derbys both (Aust-I)  won by Amalfi (by Carnegie) and Don Eduardo (by Zabeel). Pantani failed to snap that streak when second to Grey Song in the Victoria St Leger (Aust-III). The Flemington success of the enigmatic Grey Song (by Unbridled's Song) came off a fourth in the Australian Derby. An Adelaide trip for him was aborted.

Last Tycoon son Lester Thunderwings was the most surprising element of the placings in the $300,000 contest, the 100-1 shot gaining third in a 3-way photo -- 4 1/4 lengths astern of the top two at 30-1 (Pantini) and 6-1. The 2:37.89 was a little over a second outside the race record for the 2,500 meters.

Pantini is prepared by Robbie Laing for a group of clients for whom he found the colt at the 2000 New Zealand Premier sale and harvested him for $52,500 (NZ funds). The transaction was over swiftly to clear the Karaka ring for Don Eduardo, the Australian Derby winner to be setting a southern hemisphere record of $3.6 million (NZ funds). Pantini is from Marscay mare Dewamar and has as his third dam Grey Dawn Girl, producer of Zoffany and California Derby (gr. III) third Tsue's Dawning.

By coincidence Markham the 1997 Morphettville Derby winner, and third in the Melbourne Cup later the same year, is a relative of Pentire, through the Shadai-owned stallion's third dam third dam Hardiemma -- also the dam of English Derby (Eng-I) Shirley Heights. Pentire won the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at three, his career highlight at the expense of Classic Cliché the following year in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot. He started shuttling in 1997 as the foundation sire for Rich Hill Stud at Matamata in New Zealand's rich Waikato. A decision on whether he commutes this year is imminent and the SA Derby result won't hurt.