The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
In a stunning performance from the now Cranbourne-based Kiwi expat Imperatriz the five-time Group 1 winning mare flashed past a class field to salute in the 2023 McEwen Stakes results ahead of the spring majors.
The five-year-old daughter of I Am Invincible kicked off a very promising association down under for Te Akau racing with a huge first-up win at The Valley in the Group 2 $300,000 McEwen Stakes (1000m).
The mare continued to show her affinity for the notoriously tight circuit where she was last seen defeating the likes of Bella Nipotina and Roch ‘N’ Horse in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) back in March.
First-up in the McEwen Imperatriz was given a peach of a ride by Michael Dee and showed even more improvement going straight past the reigning The Everest champion Giga Kick to fly home and salute by a commanding margin.
“A huge relief,” stable representative Ben Gleeson told Racing.com after the win.
“A big credit to the team at home.”
The sharp 1000m distance was a pre-race query, but Imperatriz quickly answered her doubters displaying a scintillating turn of foot to set a new track record of 56.56 seconds.
Dee was cool as a cucumber throughout the race sitting out the back and taking his time.
When he hit the button, Imperatriz was enormous setting the course on fire as she swept past them all and charged home for a two and a half-length win.
“We got into a lovely position,” Gleeson said.
“We always planned to be dropping in behind the speed.
“Mick just read the race perfectly.”
Strong first-up also was the Robert Heathcote-trained Queensland Rothfire, winner of the race last year, running second.
After missing the kick, the beaten favourite Giga Kick peaked on his run late to complete the McEwen Stakes trifecta in third.
In an ideal start for the Australian operation of New Zealand horseman Mark Walker, his ace mare has set herself up for a huge spring campaign that could now potentially include a slot in the $20 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14.
Despite being a doubtful starer in the world’s richest turf race, Imperatriz is being kept safe in all-in 2023 The Everest betting at $8 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
The team earlier named Flemington’s Group 1 $3 million Champions Sprint (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November as her main target at the end of the spring.
Gleeson confirmed that Imperatiz’s next two starts would be back at Moonee Valley with the mare likely to next head to the Group 1 $750,000 Moir Stakes (1000m) on Friday September 29th for which she is the $2.50 all-in favourite.
“She does (love The Valley),” he said.
“It’s nice to know that her next two starts are here.”
After the Moir the mare will chase a bigger prize in the Group 1 $2 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) on Cox Plate Day, October 28.
She is also the early pre-nomination favourite for that event at $2.40 through race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au.
2023 McEwen Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||5||IMPERATRIZ||Mark Walker||Michael Dee||7||56.5kg||$3.90|
|2||2||ROTHFIRE||Robert Heathcote||Blake Shinn||2.5L||5||58.5kg||$5|
|3||1||GIGA KICK||Clayton Douglas||Craig Williams||2.6L||6||58.5kg||$1.95F|
|4||3||ZOUSTYLE||Tony Gollan||Damien Oliver||3.85L||2||58.5kg||$11|
|5||4||ACROMANTULA||Daniel & Ben Pearce||Damian Lane||5.35L||3||58.5kg||$16|
|6||7||HOW’S THE SERENITY||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jye McNeil||5.55L||1||56.5kg||$101|
|7||6||SERADESS||Mark & Levi Kavanagh||Ms Jamie Kah||5.65L||4||56.5kg||$31|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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