A record Derby day crowd of 115,600 saw a colt bred to sprint outstay his rivals over the 2,500 meters of the $1.5 million (Australian funds) classic.
Benicio (10-1) carried his pedigree and Noel Callow to hold on by a neck over Duelled (5-1) to win the 2,500-meter, $1.5 million (Australian funds) classic. The runner-up is by Danehill's white-hot sire son Redoute's Choice.
Headturner (by Anabaa), the 11-4 second choice, finished third.
Slow mid-race fractions saw a final time of 2:37.08, nearly four seconds off the record.
Callow was entrusted with the Derby ride by traner Lee Freedman when his Derby prep rider Stephen King stayed with Replicator (13-1). The Danehill colt finished twelfth.
Callow brought Benicio from 12th of the 16 runners into the final 800 meters to grab the lead near the furlong pole.
Freedman's unexpected third Victoria Derby success was a bonus as he prepares last week's Carleton Draught W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) winner, Makybe Diva for a three-peat attempt in the Melbourne Cup Nov 1.
Benicio has three wins, a second and third from 10 starts.
He is from the first southern crop of More Than Ready and was sold by Vinery for $525,000 at the Inglis's 2004 Australian Easter yearling sale. Melbourne agent Damon Gabbedy signed the invoice.
Vinery's Australian manager, Peter Orton, kept the farm in the colt and ensure the retention of breeding rights. Given the speed in his pedigree, it now looks a wise decision.
Tom Simon sold Benicio's dam, Mannington, for $2,050,000 as part of his major dispersal of his breeding stock at the 2005 Australian broodmare sale last winter. The buyer was Darley, for which she has produced a filly by Red Ransom. Vinery retains Mannington's yearling filly by Fusaichi Pegasus .
Like More Than Ready , Mannington's forte was sprinting. The Danehill daughter was a grade III and listed winner at 1,100 meters (approx. 5 ½ furlongs) and twice placed at the grade I level at 1,200 meters (six furlongs).
Benicio's second dam, Bint Marscay, won the 1993 Golden Slipper Stakes (Aust-I) and two other graded races for Sheikh Hamdan Al-Nahyan. Freedman trained her. Vinery sent Bint Marscay to the United States three years ago.
More Than Ready is in his fifth shuttle year, his Vinery-Australia season cost $40,000--after falling to $15,000 in 2004. The Derby is his most important success in the south to date. His Carry on Cutie won the Champagne Stakes (Aust-I) for 2-year-olds in Sydney in April.
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