There was no love for Tofane in Saturday’s...
Sydney’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse could has uncovered another two-year-old in her bid for a seventh win in the world’s richest race for juveniles thanks to the Golden Slipper lead-up victory by Santos in the Pierro Plate 2018.
Waterhouse, who now co-trains with her former racing manager Adrian Bott, has come away with the autumn’s best two-year-old on six previous occasions including her most recent Golden Slipper Stakes winner Vancouver (2015).
This Apollo Stakes Day at Royal Randwick an important lead-up to the $3.5 million Rosehill feature over 1200m on March 24 was run and won by Waterhouse & Bott’s I Am Invincible colt Santos who showed greater maturity after a spell.
Named in honour of Waterhouse’s 2012 Golden Slipper champion Pierro, the $150,000 Pierro Plate (1100m) featured eight young hopefuls including Santos who was ridden to an impressive victory by Tim Clark.
“This has been our Golden Slipper hope from day one,” an enthusiastic Waterhouse sung post-win.
“He was very immature in the spring…he was still coming together.
“He’s furnished into a really beautiful colt.
“This horse is such an exciting horse, he’s lyrical!”
On debut the bay was third to Performer in the Listed Breeders’ Plate (1000m) at Randwick in late September last year before a fourth to Legend Of Condor in the Victory Vein (1000m) in mid-October.
Winner of that race, the Gerald Ryan-trained Legend Of Condor ($2.80) jumped favourite in the Pierro Plate first-up and led the field around as Clark allowed Santos to settle on his outside in second throughout the run.
Once on the home straight, Legend Of Condor was quickly under siege by Waterhouse’s up-and-comer who drew to the front with 150m left to travel.
Santos ($6.50) looked a little keen in the run but pulled away late in a big win over Exceltic ($7.50), who was backing-up from a third on debut to Performer in the Group 3 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on February 3, for last year’s Golden Slipper winning trainer Gary Portelli.
In third rounding out the trifecta was the John O’Shea-trained Smart Missile colt and Inglis Nursery winner on debut in mid-December, Irish Bet ($7.50), while the beaten favourite Legend Of Condor faded to finish fourth.
First-up off an 18 week spell, Santos sweated up in the yard pre-race ahead of the Pierro Plate but was still too good late having the fitness edge after two winning lead-up trials.
“He’s always shown that he’s a pretty good colt,” winning hoop Clark said after the race.
“He come back and trialled nicely.
“There really hasn’t been an outstanding win by a two-year-old yet and he’s put his hand up to be in contention for the bigger races.”
The victory was impressive as he sat outside the hot speed before showing much improvement on way to the Golden Slipper Stakes 2018 next month.
Markets remain led by the Magic Millions 2YO Classic winning filly Sunlight ($6) and the aforementioned Chris Waller-trained Canonbury Stakes champ Performer ($7).
Clark also believes that Santos will be even better suited to further than the Golden Slipper distance, tipping the colt to be competitive in the Group 1 $1 million ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 7 during ‘The Championships’ as well as the Group 1 $500,000 Champagne Stakes (1600m) back at the track over a mile a fortnight after that.
“I think so, I think he’ll relish a 1400m or a mile race,” Clark said.
“He’s obviously got plenty of upside and is in the right hands.
“I’m sure they’ll head in the right direction with him.”
Waterhouse added that another run before Golden Slipper Stakes Day would be on the cards for Santos, but that the Pierro Plate win was an important step.
“It was a very, very crucial race for us today,” she said.
To back Santos next race and access to best early Golden Slipper odds this autumn head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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