LANEWAY TO HEAVEN
LATE bloomer Santa Ana Lane went from being one of the most underrated sprinters in the country to potentially one of the best in the world in less than 70 seconds at Flemington yesterday.
Not bad for a horse whose trainer, Anthony Freedman, has never really considered a pure speed horse.
Having struggled to get around the “skating rink” of The Everest after the Sydney deluge a month ago, Santa Ana Lane took hold of the $1 million VRC Sprint Classic with a devastating finishing burst, leaving Redzel, a host of local contenders and five international raiders in his wake.
It was the horse’s fourth Group 1 success — his third this year — providing what Freedman called “a nice consolation” for the frustrating trip to Sydney.
“It might have been the one that got away,” Freedman said of the $13 million The Everest.
“You never know, we might be back there next year.”
“I thought he was spot on for Sydney, he just didn’t get his chance there … this was not an afterthought, but we were always a bit dubious about him up the straight because he’d had a couple of failures.”
Santa Ana Lane ($10) nailed In Her Time ($12) in the shadows of the post after launching late, with Jungle Cat ($26) and Pierata ($7) deadheating for third.
Redzel, who started $2.90 favourite, couldn’t add back-to-back VRC Sprints to his consecutive The Everest wins, finishing in fifth place.
Asked where Santa Ana Lane fitted among the great sprinters the stable has trained, Freedman said: “It’s difficult to say, because he has come (good) late in his career.
“I don’t really see him as a pure sprinter as funny as it is, although his record says he is one of the best sprinters in the country.
“It is a pleasure to around.”
Freedman said initial plans to head to Hong Kong were shelved, while a trip to Royal Ascot was doubtful, given Santa Ana Lane was gelded as a young horse due to his size — unless the owners were keen to make the trip.
“There’s just not enough money there to be perfectly blunt about it and he’s got no agenda because he’s a gelding,” Freedman said.
“But he’ll have a rest now, and we’ll see what happens next year.”
Mark Zahra took the ride on Santa Ana Lane yesterday due to Ben Melham’s suspension, and the pair shared a nice word in the mounting yard after the race.
“Ben is one of my good mates,” Zahra said.
“I said to him, ‘ You hate coming have him to the races when you are riding, you are here today, so you must really love this horse’.
“He threw my name in the hat to ride him, (so) I will buy him a couple of Carlton Draughts, nice and cold.”
Santa Ana Lane was named after the flagship of the Spanish Armada in its failed bid to conquer England in 1588.
“We had run out of names so we looked at his sire, Lope De Vega, and took inspiration from that,” partowner Michael Ramsden said.
“He was a Spanish poet and he had fought in the Armada, and the Santa Ana was the main ship in the fleet.”
The Lane part was added, to stick with a tradition of Ramsden horses that have been named after famous Melbourne laneways, including Melbourne Cup winner Gurner’s Lane and Caulfield Cup winner Paris Lane.
TWICE denied a Melbourne Cup berth this spring, Jaameh showcased impressive credentials for next season’s Cup with a gripping Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) victory yesterday.Nailed in a photo finish by Avilius in The Bart Cummings and third to subsequent Melbourne Cup placegetter A Prince Of Arran in the Lexus Stakes, Jaameh claimed a $100,000 bonus with narrow triumph over Sully.The runner-up was impeded halfway down the straight, shifting to the outside before veering in abruptly despite the efforts of Regan Bayliss to straighten him.Sully, who was lame postrace in a foreleg, hit the front before Zahra lifted Jaameh to Group 3 success. Libran was third. Jaameh’s performance prompted David Hayes to dream of the 2019 Cup with the import.“I think that might be enough to get him in and he’s a genuine two-miler who we haven’t got to two miles yet,” he said.“What won that was his staying ability and he’s backed up. He’s better when his races are spaced.”Zahra was unflustered when he first had to wait for a split to come behind leader Northwest Passage before having to contend with Sully’s late shift.“I was (confident on the line). I saved ground the whole way and I was lucky that it opened up for me on the inside,” Zahra said.“He (Bayliss) went out and I went in — I reckon he had a length on me.“The Hayes camp had him rock hard fit. I reckon that it was only the last 25 (metres) that I got the upper hand.”Hayes praised Zahra’s poise.“Mark gave it the perfect ride, and then when the grey came up on the outside of him I thought, ‘Oh God, he’s got us’,” he said.“That’s the way the week has gone, running seconds and thirds in good races all week.”Raced by Shadwell Stud, Jaameh will attempt to match the deeds of At Talaq and Jeune.Tom Dabernig is optimistic the gelding has the ability to contend in next year’s Cup.“We were very confident if he got in the (2018) Cup,” he said.“Hopefully this time next year.“It’s good that Angus Gold (Shadwell racing manager) is here to actually witness it, so it’s a great effort by all involved.”