Trainer Sonia Zucchiati with driver Kim Prentice and Adam Kirke after win by Pacific Black at GP in May.
West Swan trainer Sonia Zucchiatti has no regrets about her decision just over four years ago to purchase Pacific Black and she has high hopes the eight-year-old will continue his winning ways when he contests the Force Equipment Service and Hire Handicap over 2096m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
She was over the moon when Kim Prentice drove the gelding to an effortless victory in a 2116m stand at a scorching mile rate of 1.56.9 at Pinjarra on Monday after speeding over the second and third 400m sections of the final mile in 28.1sec. and 27.7sec. He raced without cover for the first 500m before Prentice sent him to the front and the gelding went on to win by just over two lengths from Dee Eight Supercar.
“He has shown it before that he is capable of running fast sectionals,” Zucchiatti said. “He is a good stand horse and 2100m is his go. He really runs it out strongly. He can win off 10m on Friday night with the right run.”
Pacific Black comes into Friday night’s race with a considerable advantage over his rivals. He is classified as an M1-class pacer and will start from 10m. Under the long-standing handicapping system he would now be an M4-class pacer after winning four metropolitan-class events.
But under the new drop-down system which allows an M2 or better class pacer to drop down a class every time he has a losing sequence of ten, Pacific Black comes into Friday’s race on extremely favourable terms.
“He went into Monday’s race at Pinjarra with a losing sequence of ten and dropped back a grade,” Zucchiatti said. “And his previous win in the city came just after he had dropped back a class. I certainly like this system. Every time he drops back a grade he seems to win.””
Pacific Black was advertised for sale on the internet just over four years ago and Zucchiatti was the only person to make an offer for him. She and Adam Kirke and Tommy Hancock outlaid $20,000 for the gelding when he was a three-year-old and racing in top form, with four wins in a row on country tracks in New South Wales.
“The owner-trainer said that Pacific Black was entered for a race at Harold Park the following Friday night and that I had three options,” Zucchiatti said. ”He said I could pay $20,000 for the horse and let him scratch him from the race at Harold Park; race him at Harold Park and go 50-50 on what he might earn or wait until after the race and then discuss a price.
“I decided to let the horse race at Harold Park and go half and half. He won the race at his final start as three-year-old and rated 1.57.2.” Half the prizemoney was $4200, so, in effect, Zucchiatti, Kirke and Hancock paid just $15,800 for him.
Now Pacific Black, a son of American stallion Sports Town, has had 93 starts in WA for 13 wins and 32 placings for stakes of $133,631. Overall, the gelding has raced 115 times for 20 wins, 40 placings and $165,105 in prizemoney.
Zucchiatti was impressed with Pacific Black when she first put him into work. “At his first trial, at Byford, he broke the track record for a 2500m stand when he rated 2.1,” she said. “Then at his first start in WA he won at Bunbury, rating 1.59.9 and breaking the track record for a stand over 2030m.
“Starting out at No. 5 barrier off 10m on Friday night makes his job a bit tougher, but I’m hoping for a repeat of his Pinjarra win on Monday. Hardest to beat could be Move Over, Dalvey Gold and Im Grant Lea.”
BROWN CHOOSES LEWIS HAMILTON AHEAD OF AT PRINCETON
Ace reinsman Colin Brown gave punters a strong lead when he decided to drive Lewis Hamilton in preference to promising newcomer At Princeton in the 2506m Regency Foods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The five-year-old New Zealand-bred stablemates look set to fight out the finish for Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond.
Brown made his decision after driving Nimrod in a track workout with Borat and Lewis Hamilton at Byford on Tuesday morning.
“They all worked very well,” Brown said. “Borat set the pace, I sat second and Lewis Hamilton raced in third place and all three went across the line together, with all three running exceptionally fast sectionals. I was most impressed with Lewis Hamilton.”
Lewis Hamilton, a winner at eight of his 38 starts, has finished boldly to win by narrow margins at Pinjarra at his past three starts when driven by Brown.
Brown has driven At Princeton at his first two WA starts for a most impressive first-up victory at Pinjarra on August 27 when the gelding galloped badly at the standing start and settled down in last position before dashing forward to take up the running in the first lap and going on to win by more than two lengths, scorching over the final 800m in 55.9sec. and the last 400m in 27.6sec.
Then in a 2692m mobile at Pinjarra on Monday At Princeton burst forward from seventh in the middle stages to hit the front 270m from home before finishing second to Chaldea at a 1.57.8 rate.
“At Princeton is a tough type of horse and he will improve,” Brown said. “Lewis Hamilton loves the 2500m and I’d say he will be very hard to beat on Friday night. He’s not noted for his brains, but he has certainly improved and become a more tractable horse this time round.”
REBECCA AMY, A FIRST-UP SPECIALIST, RESUMES FROM A WIDE BARRIER
Promising mare Rebecca Amy has an outstanding record when racing first-up after a spell and this is sure to influence shrewd punters to support her when she reappears in the 1700m Welcome Del Basso Smallgoods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Trainer-reinsman Callan Suvaljko is pleased with her latest preparation and he declared her as a sound each-way prospect from the wide draw at No. 6 on the front line.
Rebecca Amy won at her debut as a two-year-old at Gloucester Park in February 2010 and her three subsequent first-up runs resulted in an all-the-way win by four lengths at Bunbury in November 2010, a two-length victory when she led over 2150m at Harvey in May 2011 and an unlucky third when forced to race wide for much of the way at Busselton last December.
She has not appeared since her fast-finishing second to Kamwood Laughter over 2100m at Gloucester Park in mid-June. That took her record to 13 wins, eight placings and earnings of $96,222 from 38 starts.
“She had about four weeks off after her latest start and now has been in work for about ten weeks,” Suvaljko said. “She put on more weight than I expected when she came back from the paddock and she’s had a couple of minor hiccups along the way as well. But she’s an each-way prospect.
“Whether she gets across to the lead or into the breeze, I don’t know. There are two of her with her gate speed. If she goes to the gate really charging, she doesn’t come out as quick as if she goes up half relaxed. So I’ll be playing it by ear.”
Suvaljko pinpointed Easton Swift and Elshu Sheila as talented mares with good winning prospects. And he also considered polemarker Siena Franco a danger from her ideal draw.