Lee and Anthony Freedman appear to have unearthed a potential star in Santa Ana Lane, who produced an impressive turn of foot at Caulfield this afternoon to win the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) in a photo finish.
Santa Ana Lane was rated an outside chance of success in the Zeditave Stakes at a double figure quote but used his ideal barrier 6 well; leaving well and taking a good position within the field of eleven as Tuscany Hero and Bassett set a solid early tempo.
Appearing to be blocked for a run with plenty to do upon rounding onto the final straight, jockey Ben Melham threaded the needle between runners with the Lope De Vega gelding; poking clear of Bassett with only strides to run and withstanding a late charge from the Ciaron Maher-trained Brockhoff.
Melham completed a perfectly-timed ride to steer Santa Ana Lane to success in the 2016 Zeditave Stakes, but revealed he was not sure the three-year-old was up to the task first-up.
“I thought his trials were good coming into this but it was such a strong race and he hasn’t run for a while,” Melham said.
“He carried on a little bit in the yard and got a bit hot, so to be honest I wasn’t sure he was going good enough to win today and knowing how much improvement is in him.
“We’ve underestimated him, he’s come here in good order and put a solid field away quite comfortably. He really closed well.”
Lee Freedman also believed Santa Ana Lane would need the run in the Zeditave Stakes to return to peak condition, but was understandably pleased to have been proven wrong.
“I love the horse but I think the market shared my view of where he was at today because I thought he was a little underdone, first-up after five months,” Freedman said.
“He could be a very, very good horse though because there’s a lot of improvement in him.”
Freedman underlined races during The Championships in early April as the likely targets for Santa Ana Lane this time, including a likely appearance in the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) before a hopeful trip north for the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“I’ve sort of targeted him towards the Championship week, because there’s some really good races for him,” Freedman said.
“The South Pacific Classic and there’s another good three-year-old sprint there.
“Hopefully then on to Brisbane for the Queensland Guineas.”
In taking out the 2016 Zeditave Stakes, Santa Ana Lane extended his record to three wins from only four competitive starts.