Could She Complete The Double?
Like Robert F Kennedy, my immediate thought would be to ask “why not?”. Although perhaps that’s inappropriate given that Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan was reportedly drinking coffee and discussing horse racing on the night of the killing. Bit of minutiae for you to coincide with the swearing in of Donald Trump.
To digress further, I’m not sure of Trump’s precise views on horse racing but there’s a connection as it has been reported that Vincent Viola, who with wife Teresa operates the St. Elias (racing) Stables, has been selected by the incoming President to serve as Secretary of the Army.
The Viola’s horses have included 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (Gr 1, 8f) winner Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song) who is now at stud at Lane’s End and Freedom Child (Malibu Moon) who is co-owned by Spendthrift Farm and standing at Spendthrift, Maryland. So, here’s a thought…maybe Vinnie (Viola) can convince Donnie (Trump) to pop out to Australia, discuss some strategic and military alliances and visit Spendthrift’s operation here.
Anyhow, back to Houtzen (I Am Invincible). Houtzen calling! Sorry. The flying daughter of I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) and Set To Unleash (Reset), who – come to think of it could have been aptly named Trump had she been male – is quite simply, outstanding.
In terms of her going on to win the $3,500,000 Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), consider this. Since 2004 when Dance Hero (Danzero) became the first of three male Magic Millions – Golden Slipper double winners, no other penultimate lead-up race has produced more Golden Slipper winners. The others to claim the double were, of course, Phelan Ready (More Than Ready) and Capitalist (Written Tycoon).
Consider that the past two Golden Slipper winners – Capitalist and Vancouver (Medaglia D’Oro) had their penultimate lead-up runs in January which coincides with the race switching to the third week in March rather than the first week of April.
Consider that Houtzen is almost certainly the most impressive Magic Millions winner since Dance Hero. She crossed from barrier 16 of 16 to lead through the first 600 metres in 34.05 seconds – a first half split not bettered since Dance Hero (from gate seven) ran a phenomenal 33.1 for the opening 600 metres.
In both cases, that of Houtzen and Dance Hero – there was a significant margin from the first two home to the rest which is invariably a good form indicator.
It will, of course, come down to whether she can cope constitutionally and whether she draws more kindly.
Time will tell on both counts but trainer Toby Edmonds dares to dream she can be even better. “She’s done it all on race day to date. We haven’t done a great deal of galloping with her on the track. She’s still a touch green and when she learns to relax a bit more, you’ll see a really good turn of foot,” he said.
The filly will have a brief let-up before being prepared for the Reisling Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) at Randwick. That race, worth $300,000, is on 4 March and is two weeks before the Golden Slipper Stakes.
The other herculean performance of the day came from Global Glamour (Star Witness) in the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (RL, 1400m). Like Houtzen, she drew the outside of the 16 runners and trucked forward on a sizzling 45.8 first 800 metres speed.
She was narrowly run down by 100/1 chance Flying Jess (Hinchinbrook) – prepared by the affable John Moloney for John O’Neill’s Prime Thoroughbreds syndicate. And to underline, yet again, how wonderfully serendipitous racing can be – she was ridden by Tye Angland who’d been aboard Global Glamour at her previous run.
ROBBIE GRIFFITHS – THE QUARTERBACK
Griffiths, enjoying a good run of late, reports that he’s pleased with the progress of Group One-winning sprinter The Quarterback (Street Boss) who may be bound for international competition this year.
“We’ve got him stepping up a bit in his work now and he looks to be going really well. It’s going to be one hell of a Lightning Stakes this year with the addition of all the good three-year-old but it’s the obvious kick off point for him given his record down the straight. I’m happy with him,” Griffiths said of The Quarterback, last year’s Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner.
Deane Lester, well known form analyst and co-owner of The Quarterback, meanwhile told radio station SEN that the Al Quoz Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m) in Dubai was on the radar for the six-year-old son of Street Boss (Street Cry). “Now that the race has been extended to 1200 metres it looks suitable, on turf and down the straight,” Lester said.
The Al Quoz Sprint, which will be run on 25 March, is now the United Arab Emirates leg of the Global Sprint Challenge that offers a US$1,000,000 bonus to any horse which can win a series race in three different countries.
The Al Quoz Sprint replaces the Golden Shaheen as the second leg of the series, which kicks off with the $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m) at Flemington on 18 February.
The remaining eight races are the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Gr 1, 1200m) (Japan), Chairman’s Sprint Prize (Gr 1, 1200m) (HK), King’s Stand Stakes (Gr 1, 5f), Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) and July Cup (Gr 1, 6f) (UK), Sprinters Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) (Japan), Darley Classic (registered as the VRC Stakes) (Gr 1, 1200m) (Aus) and the Hong Kong Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m) (HK).
The Al Quoz was twice won by Australian trained horses when run at 1000 metres. Buffering (Mossman), for Robert Heathcote, won last year while the Paul Messara trained Ortensia (Testa Rossa) won in 2012.
Griffiths was pleased, last Saturday at Flemington, to land a second metropolitan double in two weeks. He won with Deja Blue (Denman) and Capannello (Onemorenomore) whom he hopes might graduate to something better than a 3YO Handicap win.
“He’s a nice horse. He ran very well on debut as a two-year-old but then had a disastrous day second time out. The horse next to him reared up and kicked him in the head and neck. They let him run which he shouldn’t have but he was a colt running in a Blue Diamond preview so I guess they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.
“It’s taken time for him to recover from that experience. He’s been gelded and he’s been very good in his three runs this time so we’re hoping he can go on,” Griffiths said.
Capannello debuted in January last year when runner-up in the Blue Diamond Preview C&G (Listed, 1000m) before the Blue Diamond Prelude C&G (Gr 3, 1100m) mishap the following month. Last Saturday, he beat Mike Moroney’s promising three-year-old Barthelona (Zoffany).