Santa begins Everest campaign in ShortsMonday 16 September 2019
With just over a month until the $14 million The Everest, connections of the Anthony Freedman-trained Santa Ana Lane are comfortable where the star sprinter is positioned for the rich race at Randwick.
Santa Ana Lane was a dominant winner of the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes over the Randwick 1200m in April and, ahead of his season return in Saturday's Group Two Shorts, he heads the TAB's market for The Everest at $5.
It's a position Sam Freedman, assistant trainer to his father, believes the multiple Group One winner deserves.
"I think on his best form, he's shown that in the TJ Smith and he's been probably the benchmark in those genuinely run sprint races for the last couple of seasons," Sam Freedman said.
"We're hopeful that he's still the horse to beat.
"There's obviously up and comers like Classique Legend and there's always horses who've come out of nowhere, so we're aware he's probably the old guy in the field but he still seems as well as he's ever been.
"And if he gets genuine-run races on a good track he's still probably the horse to beat."
Seven-year-old Santa Ana Lane's five Group One wins include the weight-for-age VRC Sprint Classic and TJ Smith last season.
He puts his Everest credentials on show in Saturday's The Shorts (1100m), a race which will further shape the Everest picture given seven of the 14 nominations already have slots in the $14 million race on October 19.
The gelding will travel from Melbourne to Sydney on Wednesday night and Freedman wants to see him hitting the line strongly on Saturday, regardless whether he wins or not.
"I went back through his form and he hasn't won over 1100 metres since his debut in a maiden, which I was a little surprised about," Freedman said.
"So on that he probably won't be winning but he is in good order and he'll tighten up for the trip which is good for him. He enjoys getting away from the stable.
"It's obviously going to be a hot field but we'll just ride him how we ride him and as long as he's hitting the line well, then he'll go into the Everest second-up."
Classique Legend and Pierata have been installed early favourites at $5 on Monday for The Shorts ahead of Osborne Bulls, Redzel and Santa Ana Lane ($6), while In Her Time was $8.