SAN­TOS FINDS A WAY FOR GAI

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - RAY THOMAS SKY­LINE STAKES

SAN­TOS scram­bled to a nar­row win but still boosted his Golden Slip­per chances in the process at Royal Rand­wick yes­ter­day.

The boom colt from the Gai Water­house-Adrian Bott sta­ble was there to be beaten in the Group 2 $200,000 Sky­line Stakes (1200m).

He sweated up in the sad­dling en­clo­sure be­fore the race, he threw a shoe and needed to be re­plated, then kicked out in the tun­nel go­ing on to the track.

San­tos, backed as if un­beat­able to start $1.75 favourite, was then slow out of the bar­rier and had to be rid­den ag­gres­sively early to get up out­side sur­prise leader Zou­sain.

De­spite ev­ery­thing that did go wrong, San­tos found a way to win, edg­ing Spin ($6.50) by a half-neck with Leg­end Of Con­dor ($21) a short­neck away third.

There might be some ques­tion­ing the form as there was only a length sep­a­rat­ing the first five over the line but Water­house senses the Golden Slip­per just might fit San­tos.

“This is an out­stand- ing colt and I will tell you why,’’ said Water­house, who was wear­ing the Golden Slip­per brooch she won with Se­bring in 2008.

“There were a lot of things against him to­day,’’ she said. “The wind was blow­ing quite strongly and the ground is a lit­tle soft so he couldn’t use his turn of foot. But, like the good horses do, he found a way to win.’’

San­tos ac­tu­ally eased from $9 to $11 for the $3.5 mil­lion Golden Slip­per (1200m) at Rose­hill Gar­dens on March 24 de­spite his win but Water­house was un­con­cerned.

“He is a se­ri­ous chance in the Slip­per, a real se­ri­ous chance,’’ she said. “The pun­ters should be back­ing him now. He is a colt with a beau­ti­ful ac­tion; he is so smooth the way he glides along and this run will ben­e­fit him enor­mously.

“I’m not go­ing to run him again be­fore the Golden Slip­per. He has qual­i­fied, he has his ‘slot’, and the three weeks into the race will suit him.’’

Water­house main­tains there is con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment to come from San­tos and she is con­fi­dent the colt can give her a record- equalling sev­enth win in the world’s rich­est ju­ve­nile race.

Dance Hero, trained by Water­house, was the last to com­plete the Sky­line Stakes-Golden Slip­per dou­ble, join­ing Sir Dap­per (1983), Star Watch (1988), Guineas (1997) and Prowl (1998).

Tim Clark, rider of San­tos, also said there was plenty of merit in the colt’s tough win.

“I think he prob­a­bly just had the edge off him a lit­tle af­ter such a dom­i­nant first-up win,’’ Clark said.

“Things didn’t go ex­actly to plan for us be­fore the race and he is not the great­est horse out of the gates, although he is get­ting bet­ter.

“He showed a lot of courage to win and the three weeks into the Slip­per is ideal for him.’’

The Team Snow­den-trained Spin came from back in the field with a late surge to claim sec­ond, pleas­ing jockey Ker­rin McEvoy. “It was very good run,’’ he said. “He just hes­i­tated a lit­tle when he went up the in­side but he com­mit­ted well once we got to the 100m.”

Owner James Har­ron said Spin is most likely to run in the Pago Pago Stakes in two weeks in a last-ditch bid to qual­ify for the Golden Slip­per.

Leg­end Of Con­dor was very good fin­ish­ing third af­ter be­ing posted three-wide without cover early in the race.

Zou­sain prob­a­bly jumped too well and ended up in front so there was plenty to like about his ef­fort to fin

ish a close-up fourth.

Ev­ery­thing that could go wrong did but San­tos proved too strong for his ri­vals as Water­house beams wear­ing her Slip­per brooch. Picture: Si­mon Bullard

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