Her colt Sebring, the race favorite had won and the always effervescent Waterhouse was holding court. “This is a victory for syndication and you know, the people in this colt have bought in at $10,000 or so a share. It was a win for the industry and for Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds, who thoroughly deserved this win. He is a super colt, a very, very special animal and he will race on toward the Triple Crown now,” she said.
Sebring (More Than Ready -Purespeed) stamped himself not only the best 2-year-old in Australia, but may well be one of the best of the past 25 years after bungling the start, being closer to last than first upon straightening, slipping in the wet ground on the point of the home turn, and yet displaying tenacious tendencies over the last furlong to narrowly lift the Aus$3.5million race from the boom horse Von Costa De Hero (Encosta de Lago-Piavonic) and the wonderfully talented Portillo (Red Ransom-Snowdrift).
But much like Tuesday Joy, who won the group I BMW Stakes earlier in the day, it was the inspired ride that shone the brightest. And it was jockey Glen Boss this time, on a hit and run mission from his base in Hong Kong, who deserves all the applause. He kept the colt’s mind on the job, didn’t panic when he missed the start by just on a length, and came bursting through the pack at the furlong mark to reach the lead and hold off the recently purchased Von Costa De Hero who was last coming to the home turn.
“The owners can take this colt anywhere now and ask their own price for him as a stallion prospect,” smiled Waterhouse. “He’s now had four starts, on fast and heavy tracks, and he’s won them all. He’s taken on the very best in Australia and beaten them. And he’s done it the hard way too. He will have a crack at the Triple Crown now starting next week at Randwick in the group I Sires Produce Stakes,” she added. That race is over seven furlongs and the last time the Triple Crown (three group I juvenile races on consecutive Saturdays in Sydney over different distances) was achieved, it was by a Waterhouse trained galloper in Dance Hero four years ago.
Runner up Von Costa De Hero, who was sensationally acquired by the big spending Darley outfit just last week for a 50% deal believed to be worth around $5 million (for the 50% share), was absolutely superb in defeat – justifying the big spend. He has untapped potential and could develop into a supreme athlete.
He was stone motherless coming to the bend, then pulled out the widest runner of all, before charging home failing to nab Sebring by a short head. He wins in one more stride. He was ridden by Craig Williams and that was just his fourth start in a race and first in Sydney.
Portillo, who must surely deserve a rest after competing in group races for the past three weekends, was also most impressive and was first of the females home. That would pretty much cement her claim as champion 2-year-old filly.
She was making just her sixth race appearance and she put her head down and charged home from about midfield upon straightening. Veteran rider Rod Quinn handled her superbly.
Of the other three gallopers who found new owners in the week leading up to the Slipper, All American (Red Ransom-Milva) was a game and hard finishing fifth; Sugar Babe (Exceed And Excel-On Type) was a strong but fading sixth and Sidereus (General Nediym-Hootenanny) was next to last failing completely to handle the wet track.
“He kept his composure really well (after the slow start), and when I asked him to go on the turn he sort of blundered but the best part about him was the final furlong,” Glen Boss said about Sebring.
“He went well, they told me to ride him back, he traveled good, but he just couldn’t quicken in that ground – still, it was an outstanding performance,” said Craig Williams talking about Von Costa De Hero.
“She ran a terrific race, probably improved another three or four lengths on last week,” Portillo’s jockey Rod Quinn said.
“A super effort, she’ll be a nice horse next time,” Damien Oliver said of Anatomica, who was having just her third race start.
“I got taken off the track at the 400 meters (two furlongs mark) so it was a very good effort and he’ll be a lovely three-year-old,” All American’s jockey Brad Rawiller said.
“She began too well and never had any cover. She still traveled up to them like the winner just after straightening but her early effort told. She’s a lovely filly and will be a better three-year-old,” Dan Nikolic said about Sugar Babe (6th).
“She tried hard but wasn’t good enough,” Darren Beadman said of Hips Don’t Lie (7th).
“She got a bit tired late and might have had enough racing this campaign,” Said Claire Lindop of Augusta Proud who was six from six before this race (9th).
“She might have had enough too. She’s a trier and kept fighting but we know she is better than that,” Nash Rawiller said about She’s Meaner (12th).
“She raced like the winner into the straight but floundered in the going,” Corey Brown said about Burgeis (13th).
“He just couldn’t quicken in the ground and raced very greenly today,” Related’s jockey Craig Newitt said of the horse having just his second start in a race (14th).
“Back to Melbourne now, he proved again can’t turn or run this way of going,” Dwayne Dunn said about Reaan (last).
Speaking of jockey’\s, spare a thought for leading Sydney rider Blake Shinn who watched the race from his home. He had ridden Sebring in all of his three wins leading up to this race and was in fact booked to ride him in the Slipper. However, he fell fowl of the stewards last week and was suspended.
The time for the race was 1:12.88 on the heavy turf track and they ran home the final three furlongs in in :36.04.
Sebring was a $130,000 yearling bought by Star Thoroughbreds and consigned by Corumbene Stud at the 2007 Magic Millions January Sale on the Gold Coast. Von Costa De Hero was a $1.2 million yearling purchased by James Bester and consigned by Coolmore Stud at the 2007 Inglis Easter Sale in Sydney. While Portillo was an $850,000 yearling consigned by Tyreel Stud at the 2007 Inglis Easter Sale in Sydney was purchased by Woodlands Stud.