SANTA’S LATE GIFT
Elite sprinter makes up for missed opportunity with classic run
TRAINER Anthony Freedman was left wondering what might have been after Santa Ana Lane scored a spectacular win against a crack sprint field at Flemington yesterday.
Santa Ana Lane was bolting behind a wall of horses before jockey Mark Zahra found a gap to burst through in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m)
Freedman said it was “nice consolation for The Everest”, where Santa Ana Lane was inconvenienced by a wet track and ran sixth behind Redzel in the world’s richest turf race at Randwick last month.
“It was a shame the rain came in Sydney and it didn’t pan out for him in The Everest,’’ Freedman said.
“I thought he was spot on for Sydney, he just didn’t get his chance there.’’
But Santa Ana Lane ($10) demonstrated once again that he is one of the nation’s elite sprinters when he scored his fourth Group 1 win, beating a gallant In Her Time ($12) by a neck with Pierata ($7) and Jungle Cat ($26) dead-heating for third, 1½ lengths away.
Dual Everest champ Redzel was sensationally backed into $2.90 favouritism and appeared to have every chance before fading for fifth.
Freedman put the Everest loss behind him and decided to set Santa Ana Lane for the VRC Sprint Classic.
“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,’’ he said.
“But Mark rode him really well and it all opened up for him. He was very strong late.
“There’s only one way to ride him and whenever he wins, he’s going to win very late.
“I told Mark that. I said ‘don’t panic’. I told him ‘ you know you’re only going to win in the last 50m’ and that’s what happened.’’
In Her Time’s trainer Kris Lees and jockey Corey Brown know how Freedman was thinking after The Everest, as both men felt yesterday’s race was the one that got away.
“She was brave, she was super, that was the cream of the crop, you won’t get a better sprint race than that in the world,’’ Lees said.
“I think she might have been held up at a vital stage but it is hard to take anything away from the winner.
“We’ve got an invite for Hong Kong but if we go there it is very difficult to get home.
“We will give her a break and try and win a Group 1 in the autumn with her.’’
Brown said he was following the favoured runners, including Redzel, but “they weren’t taking me into the race’’.
“She felt great and prob- ably should nearly have won,’’ Brown said.
Pierata’s effort to dead-heat with Godolphin’s Jungle Cat left trainer Greg Hickman wearing the smile of a winner.
“He has run a great race,’’ Hickman said.
“We will give him a let-up now and I’m thinking we will look at the Canterbury Stakes, TJ Smith Stakes and All Aged Stakes in the autumn.’’
Redzel raced in his customary position up on the speed but couldn’t break clear of the pack. “He was disappointing – he just wasn’t himself today,’’ trainer Peter Snowden said.
RUNNING ON: Mark Zahra rides Santa Ana Lane to victory in the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington. Picture: Getty Images
AT LAST: Trainer Anthony Freedman and Mark Zahra.