Victorian trainer Anthony Freedman is finding it hard to split his two runners, Santa Ana Lane and Shoals, who will face off again in the $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Both sprinters claimed three Group 1 wins each during the 2017 – 2018 racing season and they finished first and second in the Group 2 $500,000 Santos Coffee Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on September 29 when Santa Ana Lane beat his stablemate by ahead.
The Premiere Stakes was the final lead up run for Santa Ana Lane and Shoals in their build up to The Everest and Freedman is expecting them to be close together again at the finish.
“I can’t split them, they were close the other day and they are in similar shape. I imagine they will finish close on Saturday, wherever that is,’’ Freedman told the New South Wales Racing Desk.
Shoals was a three times winner during her three year old season with all her wins coming against the fillies and mares over distances from 1200m to 1600m.
Shoals beat the older mares in the Group 1 $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington during the 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival and when she returned to racing in the 2018 Autumn Carnival beat the three year old fillies when she won the Group 1 $500,000 James Boag’s Premium Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Freedman then took the Fastnet Rock filly to Adelaide where she beat the older mares again in the Group 1 $1m Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville.
Shoals will run for slot holders The Star and has drawn barrier two with Tim Clark in the saddle while Santa Ana Lane holds the slot owned by Inglis and will jump from gate nine with Ben Melham to ride.
Santa Ana Lane didn’t collect his first Group 1 win until a five year old when he won Group 1 $500,000 Keno Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Santa Ana Lane then accompanied Shoals to Adelaide in the 2018 Autumn where he won the Group 1 $1m Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville and then made it back to back Group 1 wins when he stormed home to victory in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Shoals has been well supported in the betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and on race eve is the equal $6.50 favourite with Redzel for the The Everest while Santa Ana Lane is marked at $9.
The Randwick track has been rated a Heavy 9 on Friday morning after receiving 63.4mm of rain over the last week but the wet conditions shouldn’t be a problem for Santa Ana Lane or Shaols as both have winning form on rain affected tracks.