A MAJOR betting shift came off, a white-hot favourite was rolled and a rising trotting star announced himself, as three Group Ones were hosted at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The all-conquering stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen managed to win the Caduceus Club Fillies’ Classic and the Taylor Mile despite both crack pacers, and favourites, Sweet On Me and Turn It Up, being beaten.
Sweet On Me, unbeaten in four starts, was usurped by her stablemate Amazing Dream in a national record time of 2.40.3 (1.57.3) for the 2200-metre trip.
The former was a $1.15 favourite and brave in defeat after working around to sit parked mid-race, but was unable to resist the latter, which finished along the passing lane after enjoying a sweet trip in the trail.
It was Purdon and Rasmussen’s sixth-straight win in the Classic and the third in four years for Amazing Dream’s Melbourne owner, Jean Feiss, who also won it in 2016 with Spanish Armada and in 2017 with Elle Mac.
Rasmussen, who drove the winner, said she wasn’t completely surprised by the upset win.
“I’ve been pretty confident with this one from the early days; she does have a bit of get up and go,” Rasmussen said.
“She’s probably been a little bit stiff with draws, except that one time when she did lead and win at Addington.
“She’s always had the ability but she’s a round little girl and I think just the racing has sort of done her really good and she’s a bit harder and fitter now.
“Jean’s here tonight, too, so I’m just thrilled.”
Rasmussen was full of compliments for Sweet On Me, which lost no admirers in running second.
“Her run was excellent with the tempo they were going and when Mark had to pull the plugs at the top of the straight, she really knuckled down and tried but this one (Amazing Dream) just had the better trip,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen was at it again a few races later in the Taylor Mile, landing a sustained betting shift for race favourite Spankem, which rated 1.53.4 by leading throughout.
He had opened at a quote of better than $3 but had moved ‘in to the red’ by mid-afternoon before settling at $2.20 come post time.
The reason was probably due to Purdon declaring during the week that Spankem would likely lead and not hand up to his stablemate, who would have to sit parked.
Spankem is unbeaten when leading, and won this year’s Miracle Mile from that position, so it was always going to be a massive advantage for him.
While the time was slick, a soft 32.6 second quarter took the back-runners out of play and Spankem fired home in 54.5 and 26.1 seconds.
Rasmussen was full of praise for the son of Bettor’s Delight, which could well be a candidate for Horse of the Year if he was to win next week’s Messenger Championship too.
“He’s just a lovely little horse and the draw was on his side tonight, drawing inside of Turn It Up,” Rasmussen said.
“He was very genuine to the line and he has his little ears pricked after the line so he just felt super doing it.”
The feature trot saw the arrival of a future star in Sundees Son, which produced a staggering display to second-rate a field of hardened Group One winners.
Last at the half-mile, he was launched around the field with a withering burst of speed by driver John Dunn, put leader Marcoola to the sword on the point of turn and raced clear for a comprehensive win.
The four-year-old, once maligned for often breaking in his races, has come of age this campaign and is part of a formidable wave of new blood entering the trotting ranks along with fellow four-year-olds King’s Landing, Winterfell and Forget The Price Tag, which won earlier in the night.
Majestic Man found the line well for third, the southern pair split by Lemond, which came out of the one-one to finish second, while grand campaigner Speeding Spur finished fourth.
Dunn said a myriad of racing as a young horse prepared Sundees Son well to be scrapping with older rivals as a four-year-old.
“He got hardened up at two, had a lot of racing, then at three he backed up and raced again and was really mentally and physically toughened up,” Dunn said.
“So, it was a good effort for a four-year-old to take on these open class trotters like that.”
While next week’s Rowe Cup is over two miles, he has already shown himself to be a rough-and-ready stayer at Addington so will now be firmly in the mix.
- HRNZ Media