Aussie News with Adam Hamilton

THERE is just something exciting about Kevin Pizzuto being back in the biggest races.

It wasn’t long ago he retired his champ Tiger Tara and now he’s back in the biggest of big Australian dances, the $1 million Miracle Mile on March 7.

Pizzuto’s always rated his speedster Majordan a Miracle Mile horse, but everything went wrong this time last year, it’s a much better story this time.

Majordan guaranteed himself a Miracle Mile berth – the first horse to do that – when he led throughout and broke the track record winning the $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile last night.

His 1min50.7sec mile sliced 0.2sec off Balraj’s track record.

Although the doubters pointed to Majordan’s soft 30.3sec second split, the son of Art Major did burn through a 26.9sec leading quarter then went 26.5sec from the 800-400m before still finishing-off in 27sec. That’s a 53.5sec last half around Newcastle.

Paul Court’s Kiwi pacer Hail Christian grabbed the eye, flying home from three pegs right along the inside to get within a head of Majordan in second spot.

The Black Prince was sound in third spot after trailing the leader, while four-year-old Balraj closed well late after coming wide and ran a mighty fourth.

Let It Ride was beaten for early speed from the pole, came and sat parked and held-on well for a seven-metre fifth.

** ** ** **

THE Newcastle Mile was marred by pre-race controversy when the three Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy runners were scratched for late arrival.

McCarthy pleaded for leniency after presenting the horses – Bright Energy, Little Rascal and Wrangler - to stewards just six minutes after the two-hour cut-off.

“The stewards tweeted at 2.09pm there was a fallen tree causing traffic delays, so we got the horses off the walker, loaded them and were on the road by 2.50pm. We’d normally allow three hours tops for the drive, but we left as soon as we could and that was four hours and 10mins before the cut-off,” McCarthy said.

“We kept in touch with the stewards and actually drove through the gates of the track one-minute before the cut-off, but the traffic was so busy on a big night it took us another seven minutes to get through, unload the horses and see the stewards.

“It was six minutes after the cut-off and it’s usual practice at a regular meeting for stewards to give 15mins of leeway, but not last night.”

Obvious comparisons were drawn in the different approach Queensland thoroughbred stewards adopted just last month when traffic chaos delayed the arrival of buzz galloper Alligator Blood for the Magic Millions raceday.

They put all races back one slot and the horse received a police escort to the track.

** ** ** **

CO-TRAINER Clayton Tonkin insisted the best was still yet to come for his star pacer Centenario, who had to be euthanized last Thursday night.

The former Australian 2YO of the Year, who won 11 of his 17 starts and $332,520, broke a shoulder in trackwork and had emergency surgery.

Sadly, the operation was unsuccessful and Centenario could not carry his weight on the shoulder.

“We’re all devastated,” Tonkin said. “He was a real favourite, like part of the family, and he still had it all ahead of him. He was the best of our fantastic batch of four-year-olds.”

In the past couple of months alone, Tonkin and co-trainer Emma Stewart have had major setbacks with stars like Be Happy Mach, The Storm Inside and Ride High, let alone previous setback with last year’s Chariots of Fire winner Poster Boy.

** ** ** **

VICTORIAN trainer Mick Stanley has started the juvenile season in stunning style.

First came Soho Lanikai’s (Somebeachsomewhere-Obahma Joy) breathtaking 65.2m debut win in the Premiere Stakes at Melton on February 8 in a 1min54sec mile rate for 1720m.

Last night (Saturday) Soho Almasi (Mach Three-Fususi) was never out of second gear leading throughout to win her first start by 16.4m in a 1min56.3sec at Melton.

Both are raced by leviathan owner-breeder Rob Watson, hence the “Soho” tag.

“We’re off to Sydney next week, Almasi for the Pink Bonnet and Lanikai for the Sapling Stakes,” Watson said.

** ** ** **

IT is so rare to see a filly beat the boys in a feature race, but that’s what exciting WA filly Double Expresso did at Gloucester Park last night.

Ross Olivieri’s daughter of Sweet Lou beat buzz pacer Major Martini by a nose in a hotly-contested $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic and they went a slick 1min55.4sec for 2130m.

Double Expresso, who won seven of her nine juvenile runs, was beaten first-up third campaign, but has since won three on end.

The free-for-all was easy work for Aiden De Campo’s Handsandwheels, especially after the scratchings of key rivals Galactic Star, Bill Haley and El Jacko.

Handsandwheels continued his fantastic season when he led throughout, dictated terms and zipped home in 27.4sec to beat Rock Me Over in a cosy 1min56.8sec mile rate for 2130m.

** ** ** **

ONE of Victoria’s most-improved pacers Deedenuto won an action-packed Group 3 Ararat Cup last night.

Top young driver Jackie Barker teamed with leading trainer Emma Stewart for Deedenuto’s all-the-way win in a brisk 1min57.9sec mile rate for 2195m around the old-school Ararat track.

The race changed dramatically on the home bend when Deedenuto’s stablemate, Our Millionaire, galloped outside the leader and effectively wiped-out the favourite and buzz runner General Dodge and he was looming strongly.

Auckland Inter Dominion finalists Sicario continued his good recent form by finishing second.

The Ararat Trotters’ Cup went to in-form trainer-driver Chris Svanosio with his son of Skyvalley, Kyvalley Finn.

** ** ** **

THE excitement continues to grow around regally-bred three-year-old trotter Elite Stride.

Owner-breeder Emilio Rosati has been buzzing about the colt, by Muscle Hill out of his former US trotting mare Real Babe, since mid-last year.

And Elite Stride’s two wins and a second from just three starts underline his potential.

Trained and driven by Anthony Butt, Elite Stride booked his spot in next Saturday night’s Group 1 Need For Speed final by impressively winning a heat at Bendigo last Thursday night.

He was helped by favourite Powderkeg breaking and losing all chance at the start, but Elite Stride did his share of work and won well in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 1650m.

His main danger in the final will be Maree Caldow’s Andover Sun, who won the other heat in a 1min57.8sec mile rate.

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