Lotamuscle downed hot favourite in the Trotting Derby
by Jonny Turner
Popular Canterbury reinsman Bob Butt scored the first New Zealand Group 1 win of his career when Lotamuscle downed hot favourite Enhance Your Calm in a thrilling finish to the New Zealand Trotting Derby.
Enhance Your Calm looked to have the 2600m feature in safe keeping before the Paul Nairn-trained three-year-old dashed at him to put his nose in front right on the line.
The victory was the second Group 1 win of Butt’s career, following his 2015 Australasian Breeders Crown win with Conon Bridge.
Notching his first on home soil in a classic race meant Butt was sporting his well-known cheeky grin after the race.
“I have always wanted to win one - to do it in a Derby is a big thrill,” he said.
One of Butt’s first thoughts following his milestone win was to critique his own recent steers.
Lotamuscle’s flying late finish has them convinced the reinsman is giving the horse a cold shot at the leaders, may be the key to him showing his best.
It is the exact same tactic that has seen Lotamuscle win the two biggest three-year-old trots of the season so far – the Hambletonian Classic and the Derby.
“I have probably driven him wrong; because he is a nice horse, I have been putting him handy.
“But twice I have driven him with a sit and he has bolted in – in this race and in the Hambletonian.”
While Butt is a novice at winning Group 1 trots, it was a familiar feeling for master trainer, Paul Nairn.
Butt was almost in awe of the maestro’s pinpoint training to have Lotamuscle set for Derby glory.
“He is just unreal.”
The Derby looked in the bag for the red-hot favourite, Enhance Your Calm, when he pinched a two-length break on the field after leading throughout.
Butt said even he was doubtful his horse was going to pick up the leader.
At that stage, he was more confident of running down the third placegetter, Tricky Ric and driver Joshua Dickie.
“I knew I was going to run second easy. I could see Josh battling away.
“But, with the way Enhance Your Calm won last week I wasn’t sure.
“But my horse just chased him.”
Though he was not offering any excuses, Enhance Your Calm’s co-trainer and driver, Mark Purdon, confirmed what many of the horse’s backers would have suspected.
The horse simply did not lift quickly enough once Lotamuscle started coming at him.
Tricky Ric held third, five lengths ahead of One Apollo.
The fourth placegetter went a big race, after being one of the only horses to make a midrace move to sit parked.