Al Green turns luck around to score maiden win
Relative newcomer Al Green scored an all-the-way win at his sixth start on Sunday, with trainer Stephen Gray now looking at testing the gelding on Polytrack next.
The four-year-old son of Exchange Rate went straight to the lead in the $60,000 Open Benchmark 67 race over 1200m before jockey Vlad Duric steadied up the pace.
Upon straightening, Power Lin was launched by jockey Olivier Placais while Lim’s Knight (Zawari Razali) and Queen Roulette (Nooresh Juglall) joined the chase as well.
Duric was, however, determined not to let his mount’s first win slip as he drove him strongly to the line. The $16 joint-favourite went on to score with half-a-length to spare from Lim’s Knight. Queen Roulette ran third another one-and-a-quarter lengths away while the other joint-favourite Lim’s Samurai (Danny Beasley) showed up late to finish fourth.
The winning time was 1min 10.29secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
Gray was all smiles after the St George Stable-owned gelding broke through for his maiden win, after three unsuccessful attempts this year (five runs in total previously, all over turf), that he put down to sheer bad luck.
“He did not have much luck at his last three starts,” said Gray, who went on to score a double with Destiny Knight (Manoel Nunes) in Race 5.
“At the first race (Open Benchmark 67 race on January 8), he was held up. At the next start, (Open Benchmark 67 race on January 29) he was drawn wide and had to be ridden quiet, so no luck again.
“They went too hard at the third one (Class 3 race on February 12). He then rested for five weeks.
“Today, as there was no speed in the race, we thought he could lead. He jumped forward, got a soft lead and he kicked good in the end.”
After scoring his maiden win on turf, Gray revealed that the Argentinian-bred sprinter would switch to the Polytrack for his next race.
“I rang the Argentinian connections last week, and they told me he’s a sprinter, 1200 to 1400m max, and he has a short sprint of 200m,” added Gray.
“He showed a lot but it’s just been bad luck. I told the connections not to be worried and just stick to the plan and he will come okay.
“Vlad told me the track was firm, so he can try the Polytrack next. I think he can be good on the Poly. He has ability this horse.
“He has learnt to relax, but we have to be careful as the Polytrack could wind him up.”
With that first win under the belt, Al Green has brought his earnings to slightly more than $57,000 in prizemoney for connections.
With jockey Vlad Duric unable to ride light, it is fellow Australian jockey Danny Beasley who will stand in for his colleague aboard EW Barker Trophy winner Lim’s Cruiser at his comeback race in the $200,000 Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) on Sunday.