Australasian Grand Circuit - Pacers
Stories:  Pacers 2001/2002 Season
Leg 5:  Aristocrat Miracle Mile 2001/2002Results   Points
             30/11/2001  Harold Park, Sydney, NSW  1760m  Mobile Start  $400,000
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Published in Harness Racing Weekly 6 December 2001, and used with permission from Warwick Barr.

The Race

Trainer-driver Steve Turnbull revealed his anguish involved in the lead up to his finest moment in harness racing, as his Miracle Mile wish came true with crowd-pleasing pacer Smooth Satin at Harold Park last Friday night.

If Turnbull had dreamed of etching his name as a Miracle Mile hero alongside that of his father, the legendary Tony Turnbull, he first had to endure one of his biggest nightmares going into the famous 1760-metre sprint.

The 46-year-old, a professional horseman for 30 years, relived the blunder that he believed had cost Smooth Satin a Miracle Mile berth.

He didn't have to go too far back into the past: In fact, it was only seven days beforehand that Turnbull made a hasty exit from Harold Park.

I was worried about the race all week," Turnbull said as he told of Smooth Satin's agonising defeat to Leftrightout in a do-or-die lead-up sprint.

I had two options and I took the wrong one.  To say I was distressed would be an understatement.

My concern was mainly for the horse.  Each time he goes out there he gives his best, but I didn't do the right thing by him.


Smooth Satin

"As far as I was concerned, there and then, the Miracle Mile was gone for the year.

Turnbull can thank an understanding team of New South Wales Harness Racing Club directors for thinking outside the square, by including Smooth Satin in this year's six-horse field.

In the space of one week, Turnbull went from villain to hero, because his Miracle Mile drive was as close to perfection as you could ever want.

"Ten out of ten for everything," owner Laurie Paton declared.  "Trained to the minute, and a fantastic drive."

By creating his own fairytale, Smooth Satin denied the 'people's horse,' Courage Under fire, and his reinsman Brian Hancock.

After settling third on the inside as the field raced in Indian file, Turnbull made a winning move near the 1200-metre point.

He was happy to ease to the outside of Courage Under Fire and Holmes DG, and his decision was rewarded when Yulestar looped the field to park outside the leader.

From the one-one trail, Turnbull was able to dictate when and where he wanted to make a move.

New Zealand Cup winner Kym's Girl was never going to be committed early enough to pocket Smooth Satin, while reinsman John Justice preferred to ride his luck home on the inside with Shakamaker.

If ever a reinsman was to have a free shot at Miracle Mile glory, it was going to be Turnbull, and he was patience personified as he timed his winning run to the split second.

As Courage Under Fire shook off Yulestar, Hancock looked set to end his Miracle Mile hoodoo as a reinsman, until he looked across to see Smooth Satin lifting with long and powerful strides.

Years of cutting his teeth on tracks around NSW's western districts told Turnbull to watch Courage Under Fire's wheels as the post loomed.

Comfortable in the knowledge he had made the line in time, Turnbull punched the air with his whip.  To the naked eye it was too close to call.

As the field passed the finishing post, Colin De Filippi asked Turnbull if he thought he had won.

"If I haven't, then I've made a bloody big fool of myself," Turnbull replied.

Smooth Satin, best backed on course from 10/1 to 7/1, prevailed by a half-head over Courage Under Fire, the even-money favorite.

Yulestar (12/1) finished one metre away third, with the same margin to the fourth placegetter Shakamaker (5/1).

Kym's Girl (14/1) finished fifth, and Holmes DG (7/2) wound up at the opposite end of his 1999 and 2000 results when he finished last of the six runners - yet only five metres from the winner.

The sectional times were: 29.7, 31.9, 29.4, 27.2, contributing to an over-all time of 2:07.8 for a 1:56.9 mile rate.

The Post-mortem

Steve Turnbull (Smooth Satin, 1st):  "Someone said, 'watch the second quarter, they always back off' ... when Yulestar came up, it just topped it off then, because at least I knew he'd keep going.

"Tonight, when I pulled him out, he was balanced, I pulled the plugs and he just gave me his all."

Brian Hancock (Courage Under Fire, 2nd):  "I made a decision (to go for the lead) and the horse stood up to that.  When I led, I thought, this is it ... this is my Miracle Mile.  All along, the only horse that I thought could sit and do me was the winner."

Peter Jones (Yulestar, 3rd): "I got around in pretty good time.  Brian eased off the gas a bit and I was bloody lucky to get around them that quickly, which helped a lot.

"For a few strides at the top of the straight, I thought maybe I was going to win, but then Courage Under Fire had me covered."

John Justice (Shakamaker, 4th):  "I was feeling very frustrated going into the last lap when there was no-one making a move but, unfortunately, I couldn't do anything about it."

Colin De Filippi (Kym's Girl, 5th):  "When I got out into the one-one, I thought, well, this is good so far if nothing else moves, but then, when Yulestar came around, I thought, this is going to make it hard unless they keep going.  Then I heard the 32 quarter come up and that took care of us."

Barry Purdon (Holmes DG, last):  "I'm not going to make excuses.  I was very happy with him going into the race.

"He was jogging down the back, but he got dropped when they sprinted very hard around the last bend.

"There was room there for me if the horse was going good enough."

The Breeders

Smooth Satin became the first New South Wales-bred pacer in 19 years to win the State's signature race.

In winning the 36th Miracle Mile, Smooth Satin also ended a New Zealand breeding dominance on the sprint.

New Zealand-bred pacers had won nine of the 10 previous Miracle Miles, with the sequence interrupted by Norms Daughter's June victory in 1996.

Not since Gundary Flyer's triumph in the 1982 edition, had a NSW-bred pacer won the race, and there was nobody prouder than Golden Gait Stud's Wayne and Anne Lamb.

The Lambs bred Smooth Satin as a result of a mating between their top stallion Stature and Seafield Ivy.

"This is an enormous boost for the New South Wales breeding industry," Wayne Lamb declared.  "It shows that we can breed top horses despite what all the pessimists say."

Smooth Satin fetched $8,000 at the 1998 Australian Pacing Gold yearling sale in Sydney.

"He was the pick of my yearlings that year," Lamb said.  "I wanted $10,000 for him, but I always go to the sales to sell, so I had to let him go for a bit less."

Golden Gait Stud will offer a brother to Smooth Satin at next year's Australian Pacing Gold in Sydney on March 10.

The Future

Now that he has announced his arrival on the Australasian Grand Circuit in no uncertain terms, Smooth Satin is poised for a long and potentially distinguished career at harness racing's highest level.

Kept under wraps at the insistence of owner Laurie Paton, Smooth Satin missed the opening two Grand Circuit legs in Brisbane.

"It has always been my dream to have a Miracle Mile runner and I didn't want to do anything that might jeopardise those chances," Paton said.

"I've always been hesitant to say that he would measure up but, after the Miracle Mile, there is no doubt about that now.

"Smooth Satin has taught me a lot about racing.  We now know that we can't come to the races and expect the horse to win every time.

"It's a tough league out there."

As a sign of Paton's new-found confidence, Smooth Satin will back up along with four other Miracle Mile runners in the $100,000 Teuer Memorial at Bankstown on Saturday night.

However, as of this week, there is next to no chance of Smooth Satin competing in the $150,000 Ben Hur at Harold Park next week.

Ultimately, the 2002 Inter Dominion in Sydney will be Smooth Satin's target.

If there's a detour along the way, the Victoria Cup promises to be a target race.



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