Record run by Lavra Joe
It will take a super three-year-old to beat Lavra Joe in the Sky Channel WA Derby on April 30. That was the message issued by the champion colt when he produced yet another superb performance to score an effortless victory in the $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
Lavra Joe further enhanced his glowing reputation when he set a track record for three-year-olds over 2130m, rating 1.53.5 when he defeated Dominus Factum by four lengths in the group 3 classic.
This lowered the record rate of 1.54 shared by Magnificent Storm and Mighty Ronaldo.
“It was a very good run,” said owner-trainer Ray Jones. “But I thought his effort a week earlier when a head second to Mighty Ronaldo (in the group 2 Sales Classic) was his best run. Not many horses can sit outside the leader and just get beaten.”
Jones said that Lavra Joe would have his next start in the $50,000 Western Gateway Pace in a fortnight, and he would then race the colt every two weeks leading up to the Derby.
“He loves racing and has pulled up very well,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the Derby, but it won’t be easy. There’s talk from New Zealand that there is a very good three-year-old (Ragazzo Mach) coming over for the Derby.”
Lavra Joe, favourite at $1.04 from the No. 1 barrier on Saturday night, was surprisingly beaten for early speed by Dominus Factum from barrier two who took a clear lead after 250m. However, Chris Lewis asserted Lavra Joe’s authority by sending him past Dominus Factum and into the lead about 150m later.
The lead time was covered in a fast 35.1sec. but Lavra Joe settled beautifully and went through the opening quarter of the final mile in 30.3sec. before increasing the tempo with final 400m sections in 28.5sec., 28.3sec. and 28.1sec.
Lavra Joe was not extended in beating the $81 outsider Dominus Factum and $91 chance Seeryanfly. Mighty Ronaldo ($12) did not threaten danger and finished ninth, just over nine lengths behind Lavra Joe, after racing in the one-out, two-back position. Give Us A Wave ($34) followed Mighty Ronaldo for most of the way and finished tenth.
Lavra Joe now boasts a splendid record of 26 starts for 14 wins, seven placings and stakes of $170,846.
Texas Tiger set for feature event
Up-and-coming four-year-old Texas Tiger remained unbeaten at five starts in Western Australia when he crushed his rivals in the 2130m Caduceus Club At Gloucester Park Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
Champion trainer Gary Hall snr praised the New Zealand-bred pacer’s performance and said that the American Ideal gelding would contest the $50,000 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park next Friday night.
“Texas Tiger is right up there with some of the better ones I’ve trained,” said Hall. “He is foolproof, he is fast and he can stay. It should be a good race next week, with some very good four and five-year-olds in the field.”
Texas Tiger completed a winning treble for Hall and his son Gary, who also drove Silent Major and Mr Kiwi to smart victories earlier in the program.
Texas Tiger was a hot favourite at $1.04 from the prized No. 1 barrier and he gave his backers no concern by ambling through the lead time in 38.1sec. and running a slow opening quarter of the final mile in 32sec. before sprinting over the next three quarters in 29.7sec., 28.1sec. and 27.4sec.
He won at a 1.57.3 rate by one and a half lengths from Stroke Of Luck, who trailed him throughout. Last-start winner Patrickthepiranha raced without cover before wilting to finish fifth.
A welcome addition
Champion trainer Gary Hall snr has no regrets that he accepted a surprise call early in January from a Victorian owner offering him the task of preparing a promising four-year-old pacer Silent Major.
“I have never met Stevie Blacker, and he rang me out of the blue and said he would like to send Silent Major over to me,” said Hall.
“Silent Major had a bit of a rushed preparation for the Golden Nugget last month (when he started from the outside of the back line and finished eighth behind Minstrel, Magnificent Storm and company). And now, he seems to be getting better with every run.”
Silent Major, favourite at $1.60 from the No. 2 barrier on the back line in the Better Your Bet With TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night, went forward at the start and Gary Hall jnr quickly had him in a commanding position, one-out and one-back, with Roll With Me setting the pace.
Hall started a three-wide move with Silent Major 1350m from home to move into the breeze. Silent Major then dashed to the front with 470m to travel and went on to win by just over three lengths from Valentines Brook, who finished powerfully from eighth at the bell.
“Rating 1.56.9 over 2536m is pretty good,” said Hall snr, who will nominate the stallion for the $50,000 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship next Friday night.
Silent Major won once from five New Zealand starts and his 18 runs in Victoria resulted in four wins and four placings. His three wins from four WA starts have boosted his earnings to $73,817 from eight wins and five placings from 27 starts.
Voak’s decision pays dividends
The decision of Chris Voak, last season’s leading driver in Western Australia, to opt out of an early speed battle in the 1730m TABtouch.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night paid handsome dividends when $5.10 chance Taking The Miki romped home to score an easy victory.
Eagle Royalty, the $2 favourite, was the fastest into stride from the outside barrier in the field of five, but she was unable to wrest the early lead from the polemarker, the $3.10 second fancy Torrevean Amy.
Torrevean Amy, driven by Mark Reed, resisted Eagle Royalty’s strong challenge for the lead during the first lap before Chris Lewis sent Eagle Royalty to the front with 900m to travel, with Taking The Miki eight lengths behind the leading pair.
The early battle, when the first quarters whizzed by in 28.2sec. and 28.7sec., took its toll and the leaders began to wilt in the back straight. Taking The Miki made up ground steadily and Voak dashed her into the lead 250m from home and she went on to win by two lengths from the plucky Eagle Royalty, with Torrevean Amy a length back in third place. The final quarters were run in 30.6sec. and 29.8sec. and the winner rated 1.56.7.
The win completed a training double for Ross Olivieri, who was successful earlier in the program with Quick Stride. Taking The Miki, a $26,000 purchase at the 2020 APG Perth yearling sale, now has won at two of her three starts for earnings of $15,799.
She is by star American pacer Always B Miki, who was retired to stud after his five-year-old campaign in 2016 when he won the Dan Patch Hall of the Year award. He raced 53 times for 30 wins, 13 seconds and three thirds for stakes of $2.8 million.
Quick Stride completes Lewis treble
Champion reinsman Chris Lewis completed a treble at Gloucester Park on Saturday night when he brought the consistent Quick Stride home with a powerful three-wide burst from the rear to snatch victory in the 2536m Better Your Industry With TABtouch Pace.
Quick Stride, a $5.40 chance from barrier No. 3, raced in eighth place in the field of nine before Lewis urged him forward at the bell with the $1.90 favourite Rock Me Over setting the pace and being pressured strongly by Fifty Five Reborn.
Quick Stride sustained his spirited effort and got up in the final stride to defeat Rock Me Over by a half neck at a 1.58.5 rate. Quick Stride’s stablemate Carrera Mach raced in sixth position and went five wide on the home turn to finish third.
Trainer Ross Olivieri lauded Quick Stride’s consistency and said that a run of bad draws had not helped his cause. “But tonight he had the best draw that he’s had for yonks,” said Olivieri. “So, small field, good draw, and bingo, he got the job done.”
Quick Stride, bred and raced by Bob Fowler, has earned $114,328 from 12 wins and 12 placings from 59 starts. He is by Live Or Die and is the second foal out of the unraced Northern Luck mare Lucky Stride.
Mr Kiwi ends nine-month drought
Drawing the No. 1 barrier for the first time in 16 starts in Western Australia played the major part in the New Zealand-bred six-year-old’s victory in the 2130m The Sports Daily On TABradio Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
Mr Kiwi’s all-the-way win ended a nine-month drought and a losing sequence of 13.
Trained by Gary Hall snr and driven by his son Gary, Mr Kiwi, favourite at $1.40, was untroubled to set the pace and win by a half-length from $31 outsider Mister Ardee, rating a modest 1.59.5.
Mr Kiwi dawdled through the lead time of 41.1sec. and opening quarters of 31.4sec. and 29.8sec. before dashing over the final 800m in 55.9sec. This was his second win from 16 WA starts and improved his record to 44 starts for eight wins, 12 placings and stakes of $93,274.
He is a half-brother to former smart pacer Mr Mojito, who had 39 starts for 13 wins, seven placings and $205,099. Mr Mojito was driven by Mark Purdon when he scored a notable victory over Nathans Courage in the group 2 Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park in December 2016 before finishing fifth behind Soho Tribeca in the Golden Nugget.
Walsh proves his worth
Five-year-old Walsh has lived in the shadow of the brilliant Shockwave throughout his career, but he has proved an honest and capable performer who boosted his earnings to $106,491 when he set the pace and won the 2130m Positive For Pacing Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
Walsh, purchased for $34,000 at the 2017 WA yearling sale, has been forced to play second fiddle to Shockwave, who was bought by similar interests for $46,000 at the same sale and now boasts a fine record of 44 starts for 16 wins, 17 placings and $469,465.
Described by his trainer-driver Aiden de Campo as an honest performer who never runs a bad race, Walsh was a $4.10 chance from the prized No. 1 barrier on Saturday night when he led and fought on doggedly to win from the $2.50 favourite Major Stare and Power And Grace ($3.40). After final quarters of 28.4sec. and 28.2sec., Walsh rated 1.57.8 as he improved his record to 71 starts for 11 wins and 22 placings.
Nine-year-old Major Stare trailed Walsh all the way and ran home strongly, as did Power And Grace, who enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back.
Empress Stakes beckons Delightfulreaction
The $50,000 Empress Stakes on March 26 looms as an ideal target for the experienced in-form Delightfulreaction, who maintained her consistent form with a fast-finishing victory in the Join The Caduceus Club Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
“She never runs a bad race,” said star Capel trained Aiden de Campo after Corey Peterson had brought Delightfulreaction home with a powerful three and four-wide burst from ninth at the bell to beat $51 outsider Bettor Pack It and $81 chance Bettor Copagoodone.
This followed Delightfulreaction’s strong-finishing win in a 2503m stand eight nights earlier. From out wide at barrier No. 8 on Saturday night, Delightfulreaction lacked admirers and she was a $22.70 chance on the tote and was quoted at $31 on the fixed market.
Peterson was engaged to drive Delightfulreaction, with his concession enabling the mare to run in the $19,000 event. It was his first drive for the de Campo stable, and he made the most of the opportunity, with Delightfulreaction racing near the rear before unleashing her spirited finishing burst.
Delightfulreaction has raced 86 times for 14 wins, 28 placings and stakes of $207,712.
The polemarker and $1.45 favourite Rumour Has It was somewhat surprisingly beaten for early speed and settled down three back on the pegs before being shuffled back to the rear at the bell. She was still tenth at the 500m and impressed in unleashing a powerful finishing burst, out wide, to be an eye-catching fourth.
Black Jack Zac defies the odds
Evergreen seven-year-old Black Jack Zac defied the statistics when he started at odds-on ($1.50) for the first time in his 106-start career and gave an exemplary frontrunning display to score an easy win in the 2130m Caduceus Club Of WA Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
He had managed just four placings from his previous 26 starts and boasted a losing sequence of 53 stretching over 87 weeks. The Queensland-bred gelding had never led and won a race before, with his eight wins being achieved after he had produced a spirited finishing burst.
Though the stark facts suggested that Black Jack Zac faced a tough task, punters rallied to support him from the prized No. 1 barrier and taking into consideration the poor form of his nine rivals.
Black Jack Zac was beaten out by Ideal Investment from barrier two, but that eight-year-old was unable to muster sufficient speed to cross to the front.
Chris Lewis drove Black Jack Zac hard to defy the challenge from Ideal Investment, and he then rated the veteran gelding perfectly in front before dashing away in the home straight to win by two lengths from $126 outsider One For Sassy, rating 1.57.5.
This was Black Jack Zac’s seventh win at Gloucester Park, and his fifth in a metropolitan-class event. He now has had 106 starts for nine wins, 27 placings and stakes of $144,533 for his 75-year-old owner John Ellis, who had prepared him for his previous eight victories.
Black Jack Zac has been trained over the past four months by Matt Scott, acting as a caretaker while Ellis recovers from back surgery.
“Black Jack Zac is a pleasure to train, and he hasn’t had a lot of luck recently,” said Scott. “Tonight, he got lucky with barrier one, and the race was run to suit. He shows that he can lead and is not just a sit and sprint horse. I think there’s more wins in store for him.”