PREVIEW SAN DOMENICO STAKES
By Neale Donnelley
ONE-TIME Golden Slipper favourite, PERFORMER, is set to play a major part in the Spring Carnival according to his Hall Of Fame trainer, Chris Waller.
Resuming in the Group 3 $150,000 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, Performer is one of the forgotten crack youngsters from last season.
Following his debut win in the Listed Breeders Plate at Randwick last September, Waller immediately put this son of Exceed And Excel in the paddock.
He resumed in February with another stunning win, this time in the Group 3 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill, when an odds-on favourite.
Performer went into his next start in the Group 2 $300,000 Todman Slipper (1200m) when again a hot favourite ($2,10), only to cause a sensation by throwing rider Hugh Bowman half-way down the straight.
He had one more start before going to the spelling paddock in the Golden Slipper, when he finished down the track from a wide barrier.
Waller has sent Performer to the trials twice at Rosehill in recent weeks and he was an eye-catching winner beating the very fast Fiesta last time on August 7.
Waller has gone on record this week saying Performer is a very serious galloper and is set to play a significant part in the coming months.
He said whatever the horse did first-up in the San Domenico, he would be greatly improved.
The latest TAB market has PERFORMER favourite at $3.80, ahead of Godolphin’s PLAGUE STONE and Peter and Paul Snowden’s NEUTRALITY.
The biggest trick for Performer could be his sticky barrier – 8 of 9 – which is never ideal from this start at Rosehill Gardens.
PLAGUE STONE ($4.20) is an interesting runner given he too was a significant form influence as a two-year-old, running second in a Blue Diamond Prelude to the eventual winner, Written By, beaten just half a length.
He has returned to racing in solid order winning at Randwick first-up two starts back before his last start fourth in the Rosebud when beaten just half a length.
NEUTRALITY has two brilliant trial wins to his name coming into this race first-up, having not raced since his fourth behind Sunlight in the Group 2 Silver Slipper back in February.
The value runner in this race may well be the unbeaten Kris Lees-trained GRAFF.
Owned by Alan Bell, GRAFF made his racetrack debut at this track in April winning for fun, before going to Hawkesbury where he won the $126,000 Clarendon Stakes (1200m) at Hawkesbury.
He resumes in the San Domenico from the coveted barrier one and at $7.00 he may well be over the odds.
The depth in this year’s renewal of the San Domenico is impressive with class runners like DIO D’ORO having won his past three starts, and JONKER, a brilliant winner of his first two starts.
JONKER was a heavily backed second favourite in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic on the Gold Coast before tiring late and finishing last.
Babies must be forgiven one poor run and this Spirit Of Boom colt showed stunning ability early in the season thus must be respect here first up.
A very intriguing contest we have here, but for mine PLAGUE STONE for James Cummings and Godolphin may go into this a touch fitter than most of his rivals having already had two runs this preparation.