Santa Ana Lane seeks another TJ Smith Stakes win
Santa Ana Lane can etch his name alongside two of the best sprinters this century if he can go back-to-back in the Group One TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick.
Black Caviar (2011, 2013) and three-time race winner Chautauqua (2015-17) are the only horses to have claimed the showpiece twice since it was first run in 1997.
Santa Ana Lane produced his trademark booming finish to score 12 months ago and Brad Taylor, racing manager for trainer Anthony Freedman, says he is on target for a repeat.
The horse has followed a similar template to last year, heading to the TJ Smith (1200m) second-up off a month’s break with a barrier trial eight days before the Group One sprint.
“I watched his trial the other day then I went back and watched his trial from last year and I thought his trial last Friday was better,” Taylor said.
“That’s always a good sign because he doesn’t usually trial that well.
“He is primed for this. It’s his first target of the preparation and we believe he is spot-on.”
Santa Ana Lane, one of nine individual Group One winners in Saturday’s field, is on the third line of betting at $6.50 with Nature Strip the $3.60 favourite a day out from the race.
The Chris Waller-trained speedster is almost unbeatable when he is on song but he can mix his form, particularly when challenged for the front.
His presence will ensure a genuine tempo and the Freedman stable is counting on that suiting backmarker Santa Ana Lane.
“Hopefully someone puts a bit of pressure on Nature Strip and they go along a bit,” Taylor said.
“If he can get to the outside and produce a run like he did last year, and there’s no reason he can’t reproduce that sort of run, I think that will be good enough to win this race.”
Tim Clark takes over from regular rider Mark Zahra, who is restricted to riding in Melbourne because of coronoavirus protocols.
Santa Ana Lane will be among four Group One runners for Freedman along with Warning in the ATC Australian Derby and Doncaster Mile duo Homesman and Super Seth.
The team has poured the work into Homesman since his stable debut when midfield in the Chipping Norton Stakes in February.
The break between runs has been a deliberate move with the horse doing the bulk of his conditioning in Melbourne before a final tune-up via a Sydney barrier trial.
Super Seth has also pleased since finishing seventh in an unsuitably run George Ryder Stakes.
“His last 100 metres was very good and he was closing late,” Taylor said.
“He is a Group One winner over a mile and if he can put his best foot forward he is certainly going to be competitive.”