LANEWAY TO HEAVEN

Sunday Herald Sun - - Racing - GLENN McFAR­LANE VRC SPRINT CLAS­SIC

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.”

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