Santa Ana Lane claimed his fourth Group 1 victory with a barnstorming finish to win the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington today.
Santa Ana Lane had failed down the Flemington straight on two previous occasions but winning trainer Anthony Freedman was willing to forgive those runs and was looking forward to a first class effort today.
“We were always a bit dubious about him up the straight because he has had a couple of failures,” Freedman said.
Mark Zahra picked up the ride at the expense of the suspended Ben Melham who had ridden Santa Ana Lane in two of his previous Group 1 wins, and made the most of the opportunity.
Zahra settled Santa Ana Lane ($10) in the second half of the field and peeled of the back of the $2.90 favourite Redzel at the 250m mark and the six year old powered to the line to defeat the brave In Her Time ($12) by a quarter of a length with Pierata ($7) and Jungle Cat ($26) dead heating for third.
Freedman praised the ride of Zahra who followed his advice to ride Santa Ana Lane quiet and bring him with a late burst.
“Mark rode him really well, It opened up for him and he was very strong late,” Freedman said.
“He (Santa Ana Lane) has had a great twelve or eighteen months and we will put him away now and see what we can do next year.”
“There is only one way to ride him and whenever he wins he is going to win very late.”
“I told Mark that, I said don’t panic, you are only going to win in the last fifty or eighty metres and that is what happened and it is a nice consolation for The Everest.”
Kerrin McEvoy settled Redzel behind the leader Invincible Star but the dual Everest winner looked beaten at the 200m and faded to finish fifth, two and a half lengths behind the winner while Invincible Star ($26) folded in the run to the line to finish twelfth.