An exhilarating performance in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic

Coming from second last on the home turn after being shuffled back early, Exhilarates, who was sent off favourite, reeled in the leader Dubious (Not A Single Doubt) to prevail by three-quarters of a length, with third-placed Hightail (Written Tycoon) just a half-neck away. The race time was 1:08.95 with the last 600 metres covered in 34.68.

A quality type though not overly big, Exhilarates looks to have scope for further improvement and was arguably the best bred horse in the race. She now stands as the most expensively bought Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner, having sold to Godolphin for $600,000 at auction last January, and she is the first of two-time champion sire Snitzel’s (Redoute’s Choice) progeny to win the Gold Coast juvenile test.

Last of five at her first start in Sydney on November 10, Exhilarates came a long way in the following two months and trainer James Cummings has suggested she will now be given a short break before being aimed at the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) on March 23. The Magic Millions/Golden Slipper double has only been completed three times, by Capitalist (Written Tycoon) in 2016, Phelan Ready (More Than Ready) in 2009 and Dance Hero (Danzero) in 2004.

Exhilarates certainly has a pedigree replete with links to many past winners of both the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and the Golden Slipper Stakes, starting with her sire Snitzel who looks certain to become Australia’s champion sire for the third successive season in 2018/19.   

Snitzel is out of a daughter of Snippets (Lunchtime), winner of the first Magic Millions 2YO Classic in 1987, and sired Estijaab, winner of last year’s Golden Slipper.

His sire, three-time champion Redoute’s Choice (Danehill), had the 2005 Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Bradbury’s Luck (sire) and has achieved an even greater impact on the Golden Slipper as the father of winners Stratum (2005) and Miss Finland (2006), as well as the paternal grandsire of Crystal Lily (Stratum) in 2010.

Exhilarates is out of a daughter of More Than Ready (Southern Halo), another stallion to have great influence on the Golden Slipper, as sire of winners Phelan Ready and Sebring (sire) – so the 2019 Magic Millions Classic winner could hardly have better pedigree credentials to go on to victory in the 2019 Golden Slipper.

It helps, too, that her dam Samaready (More Than Ready) was herself a top class two-year-old and sprinter. Her six wins included the 2012 Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and the 2012 Reisling Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) as a juvenile and the AJ Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at three in which she defeated Buffering (Mossman). Another of Samaready’s memorable performances was her third to subsequent champion two-year-old Pierro (Lonhro) and Snitzerland (Snitzel) in the 2012 Golden Slipper.

Bred by Gerry Harvey, Samaready was purchased by Vinery Stud as a yearling and is now owned by a high profile group of breeders associated with the stud in Greg Perry, Echo Beach Bloodstock, Hybrook Pastoral Company, Encompass International and Werrett Bloodstock.

The mare’s first foal, a still unnamed All Too Hard (Casino Prince) filly was born in 2015 with Exhilarates coming along as her second foal in 2016.

Since Exhilarates’ birth, though, Samaready’s breeding career has been a tale of woe to illustrate the fluctuations and frustrations so often suffered by breeders.

Samaready’s attractive 2017 colt by All Too Hard died as a result of an accident, she slipped to both Fastnet Rock (Danehill) and All Too Hard in 2018 and last spring missed to her late cover by Yarraman Park’s star sire I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit).

A half-sister to multiple Perth stakes winner Night War (General Nediym), Samaready is out of the handy racemare Samar (Secret Savings), a product of the Emirates Park breeding program by its under appreciated former sire Secret Savings (Seeking The Gold) and out of imported Nice Choice (Touching Wood).

Nice Choice is remembered for leaving seven winners headed by super tough stayer County Tyrone (Danewin), winner of such races as the Sydney Cup (Gr 1, 3200m), Metropolitan Handicap (Gr 1, 2400m) and the Queensland Derby (Gr 1, 2400m). Ilhaam (Secret Savings), a sister to Samar, added further lustre to the family by producing Group 1 two-year-old winner Almalad (Al Maher).

Exhilarates has a particularly well constructed pedigree using the well proven broad formula of combining the Danehill line with More Than Ready. Her sire Snitzel is linebred to Lunchtime (Silly Season) and Northern Dancer (Nearctic) (three crosses) and the mating with Samaready creates hybrid vigour as Samaready has powerful double crosses of Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native), Hail To Reason (Turn-to) and Buckpasser (Tom Fool) and brings in a balancing female strain of Northern Dancer.