Bjorn Baker’s veteran sprinter Zaratone continued their nice recent form over the weekend winning their 54th career start in the 2013 Starlight Stakes at Rosehill Racecourse.
The Zariz eight-year-old posted their 17th turf triumph with a $100,000 Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) success over a top field of summer sprint types.
It was their first black type win since the Group 3 Sebring Stakes (1100m) in April last year when prepared by their previous trainer Nick Olive, and their second in the Starlight which they also won back in 2011.
That year they won in 1 minute 4.35 seconds, a time that despite their age they improved on this year posting a speedy 1 minute 3.86 seconds.
Zaratone came to Baker’s Sydney base earlier this year and has now won two of their eight starts for their new trainer who admits to having a “soft spot” for the always honest runner.
“I have a real soft spot for this horse,” Baker said.
“He is sound horse and came to me with no problems, no issues, and is an absolute pleasure to have around the stable.
“The one thing about him, even though he’s been beaten his past two runs, is that he’s really kicked well and he’s found [something under pressure].”
Saturday they went out as a $7 shot following two nice runs this time in, the most recent of which was a third behind the Starlight Stakes favourite Heart Testa in a benchmark 95 at the same track a fortnight ago.
This time however they were able to turn the tables on their last start conqueror, Zaratone enjoying a drop back from 60.5kg to 58kg.
Given a gun run from jockey Brenton Avdulla, replacing the injured Kathy O’Hara, the Starlight Stakes winner had one and three quarter lengths to spare over the Chris Waller-trained favourite Heart Testa ($1.80) on the line after an impressive all-the-way effort.
“I took off on the home turn and made them chase me,” Avdulla explained post-win.
“I didn’t use the stick until inside the furlong and I knew once I gave him one that he was going to keep going.
“I can’t take much credit. I wasn’t worried about anything else behind me. I just rode my own race, I was counting to myself when I was running and I knew I controlled the race pretty well.
”I knew Heart Testa was going to be on my back, but Heart Testa’s only got a short turn of foot and if I could get everything chasing at the corner I knew my bloke was going to run his last 600m in sub 34 seconds and he was going to be hard to run down.”
Rounding out the Starlight Stakes 2013 trifecta, as tipped by Races.com.au on Friday, was then Peter Snowden’s Exceed And Excel colt Safeguard.
It was the winner’s fifth success over the 1100m at Rosehill proving their affinity for the track and distance.
Zaratone’s regular rider O’Hara had been in hospital until Saturday afternoon recovering from a head injury she sustained after falling from Natch Catch at Randwick on Friday night.
Setting himself up for more black type targets, Zaratone will reunite with O’Hara as soon as possible according to Baker.
“Kathy has ridden him perfectly all the time and it is just unfortunate how things worked out for her today,” he told The Sunday Telegraph on Saturday.
“My feelings are with Kathy and at the end of the day her health is paramount, that is all that matters.
“She will be back on Zaratone when she returns to riding.”
The Starlight Stakes result pleased Baker no end as he thought the odds-on favourite might have gotten his old warhorse in the sprint home.
“I thought today was the best I’ve had him, he was absolutely spot on and he’s a lovely horse,” he said.
“It’s a great effort and great for a horse his age. He’s a sound horse and how can you not love him.”
The full Starlight Stakes 2013 results are detailed below.
The Sydney Summer Racing Carnival action continues Saturday week with the Group 2 Villiers Stakes at Randwick.
That makes now the time to sign-up with Ladbrokes.com.au and get ready for the action with their juicy $250 welcome sign-up bet open for first time depositing players this season.
2013 Starlight Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Rosehill Race 7 – 30/11/2013
|1||3||ZARATONE||Bjorn Baker||Brenton Avdulla||–||4||58kg||$7|
|2||4||HEART TESTA||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||1.8L||1||56.5kg||$1.80F|
|3||7||SAFEGUARD||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||3.6L||7||54kg||$6.50|
|4||5||MASTER HARRY||Ron Quinton||Sam Clipperton (a)||3.8L||8||56.5kg||$41|
|5||8||JACQUINOT BAY||Guy Walter||Peter Robl||4.2L||5||54kg||$19|
|6||6||UATE||Kris Lees||Christian Reith||6.1L||3||55.5kg||$21|
|7||2||STRAIGHT ALBERT||Guy Walter||Blake Shinn||6.2L||2||59kg||$61|
|8||1||HIDDEN WARRIOR||Paul Perry||Nathan Berry||6.4L||6||59kg||$9|
|9||9||FIREBALL||Jan Bowen||Tommy Berry||7.2L||9||54kg||$26|
|10||10||BEST DANCE YET||Ross Simpson & Tracey Barnes||Adrian Layt||12L||10||54kg||$151|