Leap To Fame goes next level in Sunshine Sprint
By Adam Hamilton
It is a rare and special horse to step straight into the open-class big league and that’s exactly what Leap To Fame did last night.
Grant Dixon’s pacing sensation made light of a wide draw and unsuitably short 1660m trip to blow his rivals away yet again, this time in the $200,000 Group 1 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park.
The only thing that matched Leap To Fame’s dominance was the brave, daring and brilliant driver from Dixon.
“I’m super proud of him. He had to overcome a few difficulties in the run,” Dixon said.
The first was a wide front row draw (gate six) from which Dixon didn’t ease right back, but instead landed just worse than midfield in the running line.
Then, as feared, rivals pulled out in front of him, most notably Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow, who came three-wide but went nowhere and basically became a roadblock for Dixon.
Instead of taking the safe option of hooking four-wide, Dixon dared to go back inside I Cast No Shadow and follow through behind former Kiwi pacer Hot And Treacherous and then see daylight.
But Leap To Fame was still giving away a huge start to the leaders at the 500m after a relatively comfortable 55.6sec first half for that class and given how quick the Albion Park track is racing.
As soon as Dixon said go, Leap To Fame unleashed, swooped on the leaders and had the race won.
He ran his own closing splits in 53.9 and 26.7sec for a 1min50.2sec mile rate for 1660m. It was a second outside Blacksadance’s track record.
“He’s got incredible strength, but great speed and a great will to win, too,” Dixon said.
Leap To Fame ran past a brave Hot And Treacherous and easily held-off a fast-finishing Spirit Of St Louis to win his first open-aged Group 1 race.
It was Leap To Fame’s 22nd win from just 28 starts. He’s run four seconds, a third and now banked almost $900,000.
Many were surprised Dixon backed-up Leap To Fame last night after his epic Rising Sun win the week before.
And now he will run a third consecutive week in Queensland’s biggest race, the $400,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake (2680m).
Dixon said Leap To Fame basically put his own case forward to run last night.
“He felt so well, the Rising Sun took nothing out of him and we thought we’d just keep him ticking over and keep adjusting to racing at this level,” he said.
The extra 1000m of the Blacks A Fake will suit Leap To Fame more than any of his possible rivals and he looks to have the feature completely at his mercy.
Leap To Fame is $1.50 pre-draw for the Blacks A Fake.
The focus then switches to the world’s richest harness race, the $2.1mil TAB Eureka at Menangle on September 2.
He firmed from $2.50 to $2 for the TAB Eureka after last night’s win.
The disappointments of last night’s race were Jason Grimson’s pair, Betterzippit and I Cast No Shadow, who were both beaten a long way from home and finished 50m from Leap To Fame.
Victorian star Mach Dan lost all hope when Betterzippit punctured in front and dragged him back behind the leader. He saw some late room and ran sixth.
WA’s best pacer Magnificent Storm burned unsuccessfully for the lead, settled one-one, hit the front on the home bend and battled away soundly for seventh.