SANTOS FINDS A WAY FOR GAI
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