AUSTRALIA’S most improved pacer Wolf Stride ‘strode’ into the Miracle Mile tonight with a stunning victory in the Allied Express Logistics Sprint.
In a driving finish Wolf Stride got up in the last few bounds to beat front-runner Alta Orlando (Luke McCarthy) and rails-hugging former Kiwi Mach Shard (John McCarthy), who just edged out Turn It Up (Shane Graham) for third place.
Last week’s Terang Cup winner travelled up perfectly to Sydney, according to his trainer-driver Anthony Butt who admitted the horse had come a long way in a fairly short time for owners, harness racing fanatics Emilio and Mary Rosati.
“This horse has always stepped up when we’ve asked him to . . . he just keeps getting better and better,” said Butt.
“Pre-race he can be a bit of a boy but when the starter says ‘go’ he knows what to do and he’s actually a lovely horse to drive in a race.
“This should stand him in good stead for the next 12 months.
“Often the hardest thing to do is to get into the Miracle Mile.
“Now we’ve done that we can enjoy it and hope for the best on the big night.”
The action came thick and fast with Alta Orlando (Luke McCarthy) and Kowalski Analysis tackled each other for the early lead with Alta Orlando prevailing.
Wolf Stride settled back in about sixth spot and showed his true colours with a mighty finish in the straight to nail his rivals and win by a head in a scintillating 1:49.
That alone was enough to ensure he’ll be one of the toughest to beat in next Saturday’s $1m Garrards Miracle Mile.
The second Miracle Mile qualifier saw King Of Swing do exactly what everybody expected, cruising to an almost casual 1:49.5 win, defeating Out To Play (Greg Sugars) and One Change (Shane Graham) with the plucky Ignatius a close fourth.
“He felt really good tonight and that run should get him just perfect for next week’s big one,” said winning reinsman Luke McCarthy.
“I’m relieved and happy to qualify.
“He’s naturally quick out so I let him get there and he raced nicely after that – and he just felt super in the run.”
That ensured four more automatic qualifiers for the Miracle Mile: Wolf Stride and Alta Orlando from the first qualifying sprint; King Of Swing and Out To Play from the second sprint with those horses joining The Black Prince and Expensive Ego in the big one, with more choices to come.