Gamay holds off a fast finishing Vegas Jewell in the New Zealand Bloodstock Gr.3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m). Photo: Bruno Cannatelli
New Zealand Bloodstock sale graduate Gamay (Pierro) is a step closer to delivering on a long-range plan in the VRC Oaks after winning an important lead-up race at Caulfield.
The Archie Alexander-trained Gamay held off a strong challenge from the previously unbeeaten Vegas Jewel (NZ) (Shocking) to prevail by a long head in Saturday’s Group Three New Zealand Bloodstock Ethereal Stakes (2000m), with VRC Oaks Trial winner Celestial Falls (Hinchinbrook) another 1-1/4-lengths away third.
The trio are all likely to clash again in the Group One VRC Oaks (2500m) for three-year-old fillies at Flemington on November 7.
“She has always been a really nice filly,” Alexander’s racing manager Jeremy Rogers said.
“And I remember back in about February, she hadn’t even had a start and Archie said to me ‘I reckon she’s an Oaks filly’.
“So that’s the path she has been on all the way along.
“We’ll get her home and see how she is but that was always the plan. If she was to run well today we’d go straight into the Oaks.”
Gamay broke her maiden at Ballarat in her third start last month before finishing second to Celestial Falls in the Oaks Trial (1800m) at Flemington after racing wide throughout.
She turned the tables on Celestial Falls on Saturday to claim her first stakes win and in the process has firmed from $11 to $8 for the Oaks.
But Vegas Jewel’s performance to come from behind Gamay and run her to a narrow margin has seen her firm even more from $11 to $6 favourite.
Celestial Falls is at $8.
Jockey Declan Bates does not believe the Oaks distance will be a problem for Gamay.
“With these three-year-old fillies, you don’t know for sure until you go and do it but she’s showing all the signs that it won’t be an issue,” he said.
“I thought when that horse came up beside me it was going to go by me, but I think when it got to my girth she picked up and went again.
“She still had plenty in the tank on the line.”
The result was an apt one for New Zealand Bloodstock, sponsors of the race, having four National Yearling sale graduates in the race with Gamay and Vegas Jewel filling the quinella.
Gamay was offered by Highview at the 2018 Book 1 Yearling Sale and was knocked down for $110,000 to BBA Ireland & Alexander Racing.
Vegas Jewel has an enviable pedigree being out of Vegas Dancer (NZ) (Stravinsky) who is a half sister to Vegas Showgirl (NZ) (Al Akbar) the dam of Winx (Street Cry).
She was offered by Rich Hill Stud at the same sale and was knocked down to Eales Racing for $130,000, who also raced her sire Shocking, the multiple Group One winning son of Street Cry that is resident at Rich Hill.