Scratchings played a leading role at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday. Two defections left the way open for Blackball in a seven-horse field – reduced to five – in the second. The only surprise being Top Classman under his third trainer, Kom Naidoo, edging out The Dazzler, after being touted as the exacta for the century by television commentator Kevin Shea.
“But that’s racing,” a comment immortalised by racing writer Damon Runyon.
Olmeca Black made the expected improvement to land the opening leg of the Pick 6, holding off the attentions of Mount Anderson who showed a good turn of foot on his inside. On The Bayou continues to disappoint, with Anton Marcus riding a forward race, hitting the front in the straight but unable to hold on.
The scratching of Baby Shooz with a respiratory tract infection left the way clear for Greek Sword, narrowly beaten at his last start. Not the easiest to handle, he got himself into a muck sweat before the start, but did it all right when it counted for Dean Kannemeyer and stable rider Keagan de Melo.
Fancied runner American Princess blew her start to the fifth. Rearing just as the gates opened, the stipes deemed it a fair start but she was never in the hunt from there on as Cherry Road accelerated through to give Gavin van Zyl and Warren Kennedy their second winner of the afternoon. Arizona Sunset continues to be a soldier for her owners, running on gamely for second with Pina Colada staying on for third after hitting the front at the top of the straight.
If anyone needed the ‘office’, Blackball’s earlier win provided it. Paths Of Victory, second to Blackball in the Michaelmas Handicap, franked that form as apprentice Luke Ferraris obliged for Gareth van Zyl getting the better of White Lightning and top weight Silver Rose who plugged on for third and probably not suited to a slow early gallop.
The lightly weighted Sarabi looked to have it all sewn up approaching the final 100 m of the seventh but was swamped two jumps from the line as Queen Of Alamo and La Bella roared home on her outside to relegate her to third.
The De Melo / Kannemeyer combination rounded off a wet afternoon, as Gimme Peace steamed up the inside of the track to catch long-time leader Admiral’s Guest.
By Andrew Harrison