Sunday, February 25, 2024

Waller declares Pago Pago winner ‘real deal’ for Slipper

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Shinzo surged into the Golden Slipper conversation with a brilliant, barnstorming win at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Trainer Chris Waller confirmed Shinzo will back-up in the world’s richest two-year-old race after the colt’s fast-finishing effort in the Group 3 $200,000 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m).

“He looks the real deal,” Waller said of Shinzo.

“It’s not ideal having to run again in seven days but his demeanour will help, the back-up won’t affect him. He is the most chilled out horse you could imagine.

“He’s also got the physique to deal with it because he’s a nice, roomy colt. I haven’t punished him to get here, he’s done it all naturally believe it or not.

“They’re the types of horses that are going to run in the race and most importantly come out of the race well.”

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Shinzo ($4.40), ridden by James McDonald, settled at the rear of the field, was taken wide on the turn and finished strongly down the centre of the track to win by a widening 1¼ lengths from Maharba ($4) with Bases Loaded ($6.50) a close third.

McDonald described Shinzo as a “beautiful horse, oozes so much quality.’’

“He’s just got three-year-old written all over him so what he’s doing now is an absolute bonus,’’ McDonald said.

“I can’t wait until he comes back as a three-year-old because I think we’ll see a fair dinkum horse.

“But he’s been a work in progress and as Chris’s (Waller) horses get deeper in a prep they tend to get better and he’s been slow maturing mentally and physically.’’

It’s been 18 years since Stratum completed the Pago Pago-Golden Slipper double (2005), joining Rory’s Jester (1985) and Inspired (1984) as the only winners of both races.

But in all the years since Stratum won both races, Shinzo’s Pago Pago win would be as impressive as any, right up there with All Too Hard (2012) and Cosmic Force (2019).

All Too Hard didn’t back-up in the Golden Slipper which was won that year by Pierro from Snitzerland with Samaready, the dam of Shinzo, finishing third.

Cosmic Force started Golden Slipper favourite four years ago but could finish only eighth behind Kiamichi.

TAB price assessors were impressed with Shinzo’s win, halving the colt’s Golden Slipper odds from $26 to $13.

Shinzo, who is by super sire Snitzel, was having only his third career start and broke his maiden with a stunning last-to-first sprint.

“We’ve always known he was a decent horse. He’s probably not your natural two-year-old speedster, hence the reason why he got beaten last start,’’ Waller said.

“James (McDonald) had him in a perfect position but he just wasn’t comfortable there, then we learned later in the day they needed to be out wider on the track.

“I was actually pleased to see a wide draw today, he drew the outside, went back to last, did the first half of the race the right way. He got into a beautiful rhythm, he had the chance to come around them and have clear air and I think that’s what he needed.’’

Waller now has a strong hand in the $5m Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens next Saturday with Shinzo and top filly Lazzago.

Steel takes bad luck out of equation in runaway victory

Steel City has raced her way into the Golden Slipper with a runaway win while Blanc De Blanc was thwarted by another wide barrier at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

The Group 3 $200,000 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) was a make-or-break for the Slipper ambitions of Steel City’s connections – and Blanc De Blanc for that matter – but the former took bad luck out of the equation with her dominant all-the-way win.

Ciaron Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, said it was decided to make use of Steel City’s inside barrier in the Magic Night.

“I said to Regan (Bayliss, jockey) don’t let them cross for the sake of letting them cross,’’ Maher said.

“Steel City ran a sub 11sec early and I thought we might be going a bit hot here but he (Bayliss) pulled it back, she ran 11.5sec for the next sectional and was travelling well.

“She was very unlucky in the Blue Diamond but that happens sometimes in racing. Hopefully, it is all for the better, she pulls up well and can take her place next week.’’

Steel City ($3 favourite) led all-the-way and comfortably held he rivals at bay to win by nearly three lengths. Blanc De Blanc ($3.60) went back to near last early and ran on for second with August Bloom ($15) a long neck away third.

Originally published as Chris Waller confident Pago Pago winner Shinzo can measure up in Golden Slipper

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