Zabeel, the only stallion to match Australian seasonal earnings with Danehill, has now become the leading source of Australian Derby winners. The twice Australian champion sire by general earnings shared the record with four others, two from the 19th century.
Zabeel’s Derby record comes just a week after what his owner called his "finest hour" — when Vengeance of Rain passed NZ$11 million in Nad al Sheba’s Sheema Classic (UAE-I).
His four doubles the Randwick Derby score of his sire, Sir Tristram, whom he succeeded at the Cambridge Stud of Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan — co-breeders of the 146th Derby winner with Graham de Gruchy. Fiumicino is Zabeel's 35th individual group I winner. Sir Tristram sired 46.
Fiumicino is a grandson of de Gruchy’s champion distaffer, Horlicks. She won the 1989 Japan Cup (Jpn-I).
By English Derby (Eng-I) hero Sir Ivor, Sir Tristram led the Australian Sires’ list six times to defy the northern trend of Sir Ivor as a broodmare sire.
Zabeel raced for Sheikh Hamdan and ran fifth in the 1990 Derby before going on to win more than $1 million. His first winner in Australia’s leading classic came with Horse of the Year, Octagonal — from the sire’s first crop.
Fiumicino (11-2) easily outstayed Ambitious General (8-1) in the heavy conditions to win the AUS$2 million classic by 1 3/4 lengths. Carnegie filly Tuesday Joy (5-1) ran home strongly from a long way back to secure third, five lengths away.
Seemingly on her way to Horse of the Year honors, Miss Finland could only finish sixth as the 9-4 favorite. The rain saw the daughter of Danehill’s hot son, Redoute's Choice, ease in betting before her quest to become the race’s ninth female winner.
Miss Finland’s crew will soon decide whether she attempts the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I) against older horses on April 14. She will miss Wednesday's Australian Oaks (Aus-I), in which Tuesday Joy will attempt to go one better than her second to Finland in the Victoria Oaks (Aus-I) last November.
An indication of the track depth is that the time, 2:36.04 for the regulation 2,400 meters, was 7.63 seconds wide of Octagonal’s race record. The final quarter lasted :39.29.
Named for a coastal Italian town west of Rome, Fiumicino is raced by Nick Moraitis, owner of 1990s’ champion galloper Might and Power.
That grand Zabeel son won a Melbourne Cup, a W.S. Cox Plate, and five other group I races on his way to $5 million.
Yet his lucky owner always regretted that Might and Power finished a luckless fourth in the 1997 Derby. It has taken a decade but Moraitis has his Derby, with the very next Zabeel offspring he has raced.
Fiumicino supplied the third for trainer John Hawkes and rider Darren Beadman. They combined with Octagonal and the 2006 victor Headturner.
Hawkes and Beadman dominated Derby day with four wins apiece, including the AJC Sires Produce Stakes (Aus-I) with Camarilla a race earlier.
Beadman settled the winner in midfield, moving within striking distance of the leaders as Gorky Park brought them into the stretch after inheriting the lead. Fiumicino rushed to the lead mid-stretch to win clearly.
One of four sons of Montjeu in the race, Gorky Park fought on doggedly for his fifth. He was caught wide and checked on the first turn before sent forward to race outside the leader, Danever.
Although Montjeu’s other trio finished in the back half of the 14-strong field, it was a splendid effort to supply a quartet of Derby runners. They are from the second of four crops left after Coolmore sent the French and Irish Derby hero to Windsor Park.
Fiumicino is the second foal from Latte and cost $425,000 at the 2005 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale.
Despite having Maroof and the previously mentioned Horlicks as parents, Latte only managed two seconds and a fourth from three country starts at 3.
Maroof, a Danzig winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I), was rostered with Zabeel at Cambridge Stud before his death.
A Horlicks (by Three Legs) mating with Sir Tristram produced 2000 Melbourne Cup winner Brew.
The runner-up Ambitious General, has less obvious stamina influences, particularly in his sireline, all one-turn horses back from his sire, General Nediym. His damsire is by Sir Tristram.
Third turn traffic problems hindered the Peter Moody-trained colt when second to He’s No Pie Eater in his Derby prep, the Rosehill Guineas (Aus-I). The powerful 3-year-old again ran on gamely under Damien Oliver at Randwick.
At the other end of the tactical scale, He’s No Pie Eater gained a sweet run in behind the speed and battled away to finish fourth.
Fiumicino had closed late on that pair when third in the Guineas (Aus-I), his fifth start and graded race debut.
His $1.2 million Derby winner’s purse had a major impact on the almost $72,000 the gelded 3-year-old had garnered from two previous wins and the Guineas third.
Although perhaps assisted by the conditions, it was a grand Derby win just 37 days after winning his first race, which came against out-of-town maidens at his third start, to say nothing of the training performance.
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