Santa, the gift that keeps on giving

Santa gives all: Anthony Freedman’s Santa Ana Lane wins the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes at Randwick. Picture: Supplied

MOUNT ELIZA-based racehorse trainer Anthony Freedman came to the fore in yet another Australian Group 1 sprint on Saturday 6 April.

Ridden patiently by Mark Zahra, Freedman’s star sprinter Santa Ana Lane pounced down the straight to overrun his rivals in the $2.5 milllion T. J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick to claim his fifth Group 1 race.

Santa, as he’s affectionately known, defeated a star-studded field of sprinters by 3.5 lengths and further enhanced his profile as one of Australia’s best sprinters.

Freedman said he has felt that the six-year-old gelding has been a top-quality animal for some time.

“I knew he was really good,” Freedman said. “I was worried about the track, but I knew that the horse was as good as I have had him and when he is like that, he can do that so it’s exciting going forward.”

Jockey, Mark Zahra, described Santa Ana Lane’s run as an ‘amazing victory’.

“He was a bit cranky in the gates,” said Zahra, who was replacing injured regular rider Ben Melham.

“He was a bit slow away but I got him on the back of Champagne Cuddles. Just down the side I gave him a click to track up and just had to wait and wait and I got around the bend. I had them covered 300 metres out.”

The victory brought up Freedman’s 10th Group 1 from 37 starters since 2017.

Freedman said the stable was now considering taking Santa Ana Lane to Hong Kong for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on 28 April with Royal Ascot during June also a long-term option.

“We will obviously give Hong Kong serious thought and if things are still good, we will head on to Europe,” he said.

“He’s clearly gone to a huge level now. I’ve sort of worked him out. I know how to train him and that is the key with horses, the trainer works out how to train them and you get the best out of them.

“Keep him fresh, big gaps between runs and he just keeps stepping up to the mark.”

First published in the Mornington News – 9 April 2019