Trainer Peter Gelagotis collected his first winner on Victoria Derby Day when Illustrious Lad cleaned up at double figure odds in winning the Group 2 $300,000 TAB Stakes (1200m) at Flemington today.
Illustrious Lad had been racing consistently this campaign with a win in the Listed $100,000 W H Wylie Handicap (1100m) at Morphettville and a last start second to Keen Array in the Listed $120,000 Italktravel Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield but was still sent out at the good odds of $14.
Tassie rider Anthony Darmanin rode a great race on Illustrious Lad to move him through the middle of the track to score a one and a quarter lengths win over the Chris Waller trained Counterattack ($7) with the $3.70 favourite Southern Legend hanging on for third.
Gelagotis said that Illustrious Lad had deserved his win today and would now put him aside before preparing him for a Group 1 assault possibly in the Group 1 $500,000 Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville during next year’s Autumn Carnival.
“It is the first time we have challenged him at the very top level and have picked the most suitable races,” Gelagotis said.
“He has been amazing and I thought coming into today, his last run was so stiff. There is always a hard luck story and I thought it was a genuine one and credit to the horse and Anthony Darmanin.”
“His Adelaide form has been amazing I think I will lean that way and that is a realistic target after today’s effort.”
“I will put him away and give him a little let up. The Standish Handicap could be just an in between for him, if not he could just prep up for the Goodwood.”
Southern Legend raced on the pace down the Grandstand side but couldn’t match it with the first two placegetters in the run to the line.
Fourth placegetter Keen Array with Joao Moreira in the saddle was sent out as one of the fancied runner at $5 but was always well back before making a late charge to just miss the place.