Flying Santa ready to conquer the world
SANTA Ana Lane will follow the path of the brilliant Chautauqua and Hall of Famer Black Caviar by racing the world's best in Hong Kong and Royal Ascot after his stunning win in the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick.
To many, the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) was the race of the year.
Like an 100m Olympic final, the Randwick classic boasted a start-line of sprinters who had rightfully earned a sense of entitlement and regard.
With a combined prize money haul of $32 million from Group 1, 2 and 3 victories, this was a race for only the best sprinters in Australia.
As a result, we've now got a champion to take on the world.
Underrated no more, Anthony Freedman trained six-year-old Santa Ana Lane will follow the path of the brilliant Chautauqua and former great Black Caviar, by racing the world's best in Hong Kong and Royal Ascot.
Scorching the famous Randwick straight to collect a fifth Group 1, Santa Ana Lane stamped himself as the premier sprinter in Australia by dominating the TJ Smith Stakes.
Santa Ana Lane ($7.50) was ridden by Mark Zahra who, after settling near last, swept past the leaders at the 200m for a 3.5 length victory to set up an international campaign.
"I had it won a long way out," Zahra said.
The ever consistent Osborne Bulls ($4.50 favourite) and Sunlight ($6) fought out the minors.
In an indication of just how evenly spread the red-hot talent was across the field, only 0.4-lengths separated second to fifth.
Yet such was the dominance of Santa Ana Lane's win, it was widely excepted he would be immediately installed as favourite for The Everest in October.
But a delighted Freedman revealed he had bigger fish to fry.
He confirmed Santa Ana Lane would race in the Group 1 Hong Kong Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) later this month before a possible tilt at the Group One Golden Jubilee Stakes (1207m) at Royal Ascot.
"We'll do Hong Kong and then we'll do Europe and we'll worry about the Everest down the track,'' Freedman said.
"You've got to have the right horse to make those trips. And I think he's the right horse.
"He's in peak form, he's in peak condition, so if he's going to go, this is the year to go.
"This horse will go to the (Hong Kong) 1200m race, he'll love the straight there.
"But everything has to go to plan, you've got to travel well.''
Chautauqua won the 2016 running of the Hong Kong Chairman's and Black Caviar famously scored at Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Freedman said Santa Ana Lane's trip to Ascot would be dependent on quarantine issues related to Britain's recent outbreak of equine influenza).
"You've got to there not at the end of your prep and he's only had two runs now, so if he runs in Hong Kong in three weeks, then he's got another six weeks until his race in Europe,'' Freedman said,
"His runs will be spaced, he'll still be there on fresh legs, I think he'll be fine.
"Hong Kong (quarantine paperwork) is sorted, but Europe is still an issue with the EI, so I'm waiting to hear about that.
"But we've got two weeks until we go to Hong Kong so hopefully it's resolved before we get on the plane.''
Yesterday's $7.50 starting price was Santa Ana Lane's shortest price in his past five starts.
Freedman said that no longer will his horse fly under the radar.
"I knew he was perfect (today). I was a bit worried about the track (soft-7),'' Freedman said.
"He's underrated, but he probably isn't now after today - I'm happy to take that spot, that's fine.
"I think he's probably the best sprinter here (in Australia) now.
"I was very disappointed in the Everest (finishing sixth), I thought he was ready to win The Everest. But the rain came.
"He certainly made up for it today.''