Million dollar babies in deep end on debut

5 min read
Despite its timing on G1 Blue Diamond Stakes day and G2 lead-up status, the Silver Slipper seems to be evolving into a blue riband race and while Saturday's edition boasts two high-priced sons of I Am Invincible out to boast their stallion credentials on debut, their breeders believe the best is to come as 3-year-olds.

By Michael Cox

For the breeders of million dollar yearlings on debut Faretti (I Am Invincible) and Born A Warrior (I Am Invincible), Saturday's G2 Silver Slipper at Rosehill doesn't necessarily shape as the D-day of their 2-year-old campaigns, as it does for some of their highly credentialed rivals, but rather a starting point for what they believe will be an even better spring for the sons of Australia's hottest sire.

A quick scan of the G2 Silver Slipper honour roll reveals the emergence of the race, which comes one month out from the 2-year-old grand final that is the G1 Golden Slipper, as not only a pivotal lead-up that will shake-up futures betting but a race that could potentially boost the value of a stallion.

Three of the last seven Silver Slipper winners have gone on to win the Golden Slipper: Pierro (Lonhro) (2012), Mossfun (Mossman) (2014) and She Will Reign (Manhattan Rain) (2017).

Pierro completed the Silver and Golden Slipper double in 2012

Last year subsequent G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Sunlight (Zoustar) beat Slipper winner Estijaab (Snitzel), and other recent winners include G1 winner Sweet Idea (Snitzel) in 2013 and future stallions Headwater (2015) and Astern (2016).

That reputation as a "good horses' race" and future guide to studbook success will no doubt continue with pre-post Slipper favourite Tassort (Brazen Beau) resuming, but the two bluebloods on debut certainly add some spice.

High-priced yearlings

When a buyer goes to $2million to secure a colt from an Australian sales ring, as American investor Jon Kelly and Paul Frampton did with Faretti at last year's Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sale, there is a certain expectation he will be up and running early.

Faretti's two trials may indicate a forward showing but Arthur Mitchell from Yarraman Park, the operation that bred and has retained a share in the son of its own star stallion and stakes-winning mare Tai Tai Tess (Magic Albert), has measured expectations against such a hot field.

Faretti as a yearling

"He is being thrown in the deep end a little bit but hopefully, based off the trials, he should equip himself well," said Mitchell of Faretti, who's full-brother was a $1.3 million sale at last month's Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale. "The bottom line is that he has trialled well twice and he has to be given this shot of being a 2-year-old. With a horse like this, you have to aim for the G1 Golden Slipper and if it doesn't come off you have to realign your sites."

"The bottom line is that he has trialled well twice and he has to be given this shot of being a 2-year-old." - Yarraman Park's Arthur Mitchell

Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott always have a host of 2-year-old types and while they have held Faretti back to this point, he certainly hasn't done anything wrong.

"He did enough to run him, he didn't need to be turned out and we are having a decent throw at the stumps," Mitchell said. "Hopefully he will settle in behind those leaders and he should be finishing off. "

The speed should be plentiful on the race with the likes of speedster McLaren (Exceed And Excel) sure to scoot along, but Born A Warrior is another looking an up-and-run type blessed with natural speed.

Famous silks

Born A Warrior, who will carry Rupert Legh's blue-with-yellow lightning bolt colours made famous by Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago), not only jumped fast, as he did in his first public hit-out, but showed sustained speed to go with it in his last trial.

Yet despite displaying that eye-catching dash, co-trainer John Hawkes has reported to connections that there is a lot more than just blistering speed with of the $1.4 million yearling purchase from the Gilgai Farm draft at the 2018 Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

"John Hawkes keeps telling is that he is going to be much better as a 3-year-old, so I am not sure what to expect this Saturday," Gilgai's stud manager Kelly Skillecorn told TDN AusNZ.

Born A Warrior as a yearling

Born A Warrior is a half-brother to G1 Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback (Street Boss), who while obviously also a speed-laden individual, ran once as a late 2-year-old and didn't win until October in his 3-year-old season, and only then in a lowly Bairnsdale maiden.

"He is going to be much better in time." - Gilgai Stud manager, Kelly Skillecorn

Born A Warrior is also a half-brother to Vanilla (Host {Chi}), a dual G2-winning Derby type that went on to win multiple races as an older horse in Hong Kong.

"To us it is a pedigree that just gets better as it gets older, and John Hawkes has said that ever since he got him but has always said to expect the best from him the older he gets," Skillecorn said. "He is going to be much better in time."