History Beckons Eden Franco

No mare has won the Laurie Kennedy Race For Roses more than once. But ace Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown firmly believes that six-year-old Eden Franco has the ability to create history by winning the $30,000 2503m standing-start feature event for the second time.

Eden Franco is the lone backmarker off 50m in Friday night’s Race For Roses at Gloucester Park when her clash with brilliant four-year-olds Our Angel of Harlem and Miss Sangrial should provide one of the highlights on a highly attractive ten-event program.

Brown admits that the 50m handicap represents a serious challenge to Eden Franco, a big and powerful Christian Cullen mare who has raced only 36 times for 14 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds. But he believes she has the class to overcome that disadvantage.

“Starting off 50 metres provides a big task,” Brown said. “However, I’m sure she will go very well. Without a doubt, she is the fittest I’ve ever had her and on occasions she has shown that she can absolutely fly the stand.

“We stood her up on the track the other day and she belted out. She’s got the hood on for the first time. I thought she’d been becoming complacent and had been having a lend of me lately. With the hood, she’s a different animal.

“I put her in this race because I thought it would be a better lead-up for her for the $50,000 Breeders Stakes the following week, rather than go in the Free-For-All against the boys and have them dictate to me, whereas over the 2503m of the Race For Roses I can run the race that I want to run.”

Twelve months ago, Eden Franco started off the 10m mark in the Race For Roses and was a 9/2 chance. She began speedily and burst to the front after 550m. She gave her rivals little chance when she sped over the final quarters in 28.4sec. and 28.1sec. to win by two and a half lengths from Sarah Goody.

Miss Sangrial (20m) and Our Angel of Harlem (30m) are racing in grand style and look set to fight out the finish, while other good four-year-olds Rosies Ideal (10m), Veiled Secret (10m), Our Major Mama (front) and Purest Silk (front) cannot be underestimated.

The Michael Brennan-trained Miss Sangrial (Michel Grantham) warmed up for Friday night’s race in marvellous fashion when she started from the 30m mark and sustained a powerful finishing burst to win a 2631m stand from Major Pocket at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Three starts before that she was a $59.60 outsider when she ran home strongly from fifth at the bell to win the 2536m Empress Stakes from Our Alfie Romeo and Lady De La Renta.

“She loves racing and I consider that she is one of the top three mares in the State,” said Brennan. Miss Sangrial has already earned $198,119 from 16 wins and 124 placings from 47 starts.

Our Angel of Harlem, trained by Mike Reed, has won at 11 of her 32 starts and was most impressive last Friday night when she started out wide at barrier eight and finished powerfully from last at the bell to be third behind Herrick Roosevelt and Overboard Again.

Our Angel of Harlem won at each of her three previous starts and has bright prospects of giving reinsman Mark Reed his second victory in the Race For Roses. He trained and drove Regina Mia when she was successful in 2000.

Ross Olivieri boasts the best record as a trainer in the Race For Roses which was first run in 1997. He has been successful with Yippy Yi Yo (1998), Arctic Fire (2011), Selkie (2014) and Sheer Rocknroll (2017). He will be represented this year by Veiled Secret (10m) frontmarker Halle Rage.

Veiled Secret, to be driven by Chris Voak, ran an excellent trial for Friday night’s race when she set the pace and dashed over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 28.7sec. to win the group 2 Johnson final for mares over 2130m last Friday night.

Halle Rage will be handled by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who notched his 100th winner in WA this season when Jilliby Jake led and easily beat Allwood Peacemaker in a 2536m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Halle Rage, unplaced at her four starts since winning a 1730m mobile event two months ago, faces a tough task.

Lewis has the best record as a driver in the Race For Roses, having won the event behind Lady De Beau (2007), Arctic Fire, Selkie and Sheer Rocknroll.

Justin Prentice trains and drives Our Major Mama, whose recent form has been only fair. Prentice was successful as a trainer and driver with The Parade (2015) and Digital Art (2016).