Strawberry Road a reminder of staying power   Leave a comment

Strawberry Road a reminder of staying power

Strawberry Road won six Group I races in three countries, including the 1983 Cox Plate

Strawberry Road won six Group I races in three countries, including the 1983 Cox Plate Source: Supplied

Saturday’s washout of the $10.4 million ATC Derby Day meeting allowed for a soggy walk down memory lane to 1983 when Strawberry Road dominated on a drenched Randwick track.

Strawberry Road was the most emphatic Derby winner of modern times and is a classic reminder that — contrary to the pattern of foreign-bred feature race winners of recent years — Australia can breed elite staying thoroughbreds.

Number one on the bucket list of almost everyone attending the Inglis Newmarket complex tomorrow for the Sydney Easter Yearling Sales is to buy a specialist sprinter capable of winning next year’s $3.5 million Group I Golden Slipper Stakes.

Massive stud deals have turned recent Magic Millions graduates Zoustar and subsequent Slipper winners Sebring and Pierro into goldmines for their owners.

On Friday, Coolmore Stud announced it had bought a controlling interest in Vancouver, this year’s Golden Slipper winner.

It is understood Coolmore, who outbid an Australian-US joint venture, bought a three-quarter interest for $34.5m, giving the Medaglia d’Oro colt — bought from breeder John Camilleri at the 2014 Magic Millions for $185,000 — a valuation of $46m.

In the best tradition of the oft-quoted Forrest Gump observation that life — and most assuredly, breeding — was “like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get”, the untapped Vancouver was bred on lines suggesting he would be a Guineas horse at 1600m and 2000m at three years rather than a 1200m Slipper winner at two.

Strawberry Road showed no precociousness and did not make his debut until the last month of his two-year-old season. But, as an autumn three-year-old of 1983, he arrived in Sydney from Brisbane as a progressive type with five wins on the trot and showed enough in three lead-up races to be the 9-4 favourite among 15 three-year-olds by the time the 122nd Aust­ralian Derby came around on April 4.

How close officials came to cancelling the Derby Day meeting 32 years ago to the day because of heavy rain is not known, but it had to be a close call given the winning time of 2min 41.8sec for the 2400m trip was the slowest since Abundance recorded 2min 45sec in 1902.

Strawberry Road ploughed through the deep, testing track to win the Derby by 5½ lengths from Veloso, with Chiamare 16 lengths adrift in third place and the rest trailing in like Brown’s cows.

Such an authoritative win might have branded Strawberry Road as a born mudlark but the fact that five of the six wins, from 1350m to 2000m, from his 10 previous starts came on good-to-firm tracks stamped the bay colt as an outstanding allrounder.

Moreover, the form of the 14 he routed at Randwick subsequently confirmed the quality of the 1983 AJC Derby as the overall highest in living memory.

Strawberry Road would win six Group Is while six in his wake would become Group I winners of, collectively, 18 Group I races to 3200m while three others became stakes winners to 2400m.

Veloso, the Derby runner-up and winner of the Group I Champion Stakes earlier in the season, won the Group I Sydney Cup (3200m) at his next start. Chiamare, beaten almost 20 lengths into third, returned to the Randwick autumn meeting in 1984 to win the Group I Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and, two months later, stayed best in the Group I Brisbane Cup (3200m).

The unplaced division included Hayai (1983 Group I AJC Metropolitan, Caulfield Cup, 1984 Group I Tancred and AJC Metropolitan), Admiral Lincoln (1984 Group I Australian Cup), Secured Deposit (1983 Group I NZ St Leger, Group I 1984 Wellington Cup and Group I 1985 Auckland Cup) and the brilliant NZ weight-for-age star McGinty, a five-time Group I winner from 1600m to 2000m.

Strawberry Road was to compete for seven seasons, for four sets of owners and four trainers, winning 17 races and placing 14 times in 45 starts in six countries for overall prizemoney equivalent at the time to $2,286,200.

His Derby victory at Randwick, incidentally, won his owners a $170,000 cheque and trophies valued at $5030 — the Derby winner today takes home a first prize of $1.2m and trophies worth $2250.

Strawberry Road won four Group Is to 2400m in Australia and a Group I at 2400m in Germany and a Group I at 2500m in France. He also won Group IIs at 2000m in France and the US — in addition to three placings over 2400m at Group I level in the US, including a neck second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

He wound up his racing with Alan Paulson, a wealthy American aeronautical engineer, who developed the Brookside Farm in Kentucky and had Strawberry Road installed as foundation stallion. Paulson bred and raced four of his best — the Group I Breeders Cup winners Fraise, Ajina and Escena and the Group I Santa Anita Derby winner Dinard.

Strawberry Road left nine foal crops in the US and, despite relying on the majority support of Paulson-owned mares, he distinguished himself to feature among the top 25 stallions in North America from 1995 to 1998, making 10th spot in 1997 and climbing to fourth with progeny earnings of $US5.445m ($7.072m) in 1998.

Australian Horse of the Year for 1984 and inducted in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2009, Strawberry Road came from left field — he was bred, and raced in Australia, by a partnership headed by Queanbeyan electrical contractors Jim and Arthur Pantos and George Georgopoulos, a Canberra public servant.

When the partnership’s $1200 filly Giftisa (by the Princely Gift horse Rich Gift) showed limited ability as a two-year-old, winning a small country race in five attempts, she was sent to the nearest available stallion, Whiskey Road, a first-­season stallion at nearby Strath­allen Stud at Braidwood, NSW.

Whiskey Road was a superbly-bred son of English triple crown winner Nijinsky but was found to be a rather slow, one-paced stayer on the track. He won once over 2400m in Ireland before being exported to Australia where he showed a versatile side through Strawberry Road, the Adelaide-Melbourne Cups winner Just A Dash, the good miler Marwong (VATC Caulfield Guineas, WATC Railway Handicap) and the classy sprinter Bronze Spirit (AJC The Galaxy).

Whiskey Road also made his mark as a broodmare sire, notably through his Group I winning daughter Whisked, the mother of the remarkable Nassipour gelding Tie The Knot who was the winner of no less than 13 Group I races from 1600m to 3200m.

With the seemingly endless list of feature races at 2000m and further falling to foreign-bred horses, Australian racing is desperately in need of a couple of home-breds like Strawberry Road and Tie The Knot.


Posted April 6, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: