Santa finds the fast line to parcel up sprint feature

4 min read
Santa Ana Lane delivered a commanding performance at Randwick to beat the country’s top sprinters with unexpected ease. The 6-year-old is now poised to showcase his talents on the international stage.

Santa Ana Lane's (Lope De Vega {Ire}) performance was unexpected in terms of how effortlessly he surged past a sterling edition of the G1 Aquis TJ Smith S., leaving the best sprinters in the country in a race of their own.

Santa Ana Lane has five domestic Group 1 victories on his CV and with nothing left to prove on Australian turf, trainer Anthony Freedman is looking further afield.

Freedman is eyeing the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize over 1200 metres at Sha Tin on April 28th then the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. over the same trip at the Royal Ascot festival in June.

“Everything has got to go to plan though, so we’ll see how it pans out,” he said.

“He showed great ability early on, but we had a few foot niggles with him. We’ve got on top of that now.”

Santa Ana Lane first announced himself in the top grade when he won the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. in 2017 and the following year added the G1 Goodwood H., the G1 Stradbroke H. and the G1 VRC Sprint Classic.

“He’s clearly gone to another level now,” Freedman said. “We’ve worked him out and know how to train him to get the best out of him.”

The key to Santa Ana Lane is being patient and keeping the gelding’s races well-spaced.

“We’ve worked him out and know how to train him to get the best out of him.” – Anthony Freedman.

“We’ve worked out to keep him fresh and with gaps between runs. He keeps stepping up to the mark and we’ve just got to keep finding the good races.”

Santa Ana Lane following his win in the G1 TJ Smith S.

As is his custom, Santa Ana Lane settled at the back of the field with the pace set up by the two-time Everest winner Redzel (Snitzel).

Rider Mark Zahra asked the horse to pick up ground 600 metres from home and Santa Ana Lane joined in enthusiastically in the closing 200 to surge clear and win with aplomb.

“He was always travelling nicely and we got to the outside, he had it won a long way out,” rider Mark Zahra said.

“Anthony and Sam and the team have done a great job with this horse.” – Mark Zahra.

“Anthony and Sam and the team have done a great job with this horse.”

Santa Ana Lane has been the regular ride of Ben Melham, but an injury opened the door for Zahra to take over.

“It’s a shame for Ben, who’s done a lot of work on the horse. I’ll have to buy him a few beers,” he said.

Mark Zahra picked up the ride on Santa Ana Lane from Ben Melham after he was injured

Favourite Osborne Bulls (Street Cry {Jpn}) raced at the back with Santa Ana Lane and he also came home strongly to run second. It was his third consecutive runner-up finish in Group 1 contests after previously finding one better in the Lightning S and in the Newmarket H.

“It’s a shame for Ben, who’s done a lot of work on the horse. I’ll have to buy him a few beers.” – Mark Zahra.

Outstanding filly Sunlight (Zoustar) raced three wide on the pace from an outside barrier and she showed true grit to take third money. The outsider of the field Champagne Cuddles (Not A Single Doubt), started at better than 100-1 and came on well from midfield for fourth.

Santa Ana Lane completed a fine day for the Freedman team, with a stakes assignment now beckoning stablemate Meuse (Snitzel) following her Caulfield success. Freedman has pinpointed the G3 Three Breeders' S. in Adelaide on April 27 as the first chance at black type for the unbeaten 2-year-old.

"She still wanted to do a few things wrong and needed every inch of the 1100 metres to get there,” racing manager Brad Taylor said. "She is a filly who will progress on and we'll have a crack at black type now.