Voak opts for Lady De La Renta

Star reinsman Chris Voak wrestled for hours and changed his mind several times before finally opting to drive Lady De La Renta in the $100,000 Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“It’s been a predicament trying to decide between Lady De La Renta and Veiled Secret,” he said.

Voak is a great admirer of the Annie Belton-trained Lady De la Renta and the Ross Olivieri-trained Veiled Secret and said: “Touch wood, I hope I have picked the right one. Hopefully, history repeats itself for me. 

“The previous time I faced such a dilemma was two years ago when I chose Im Rockaria ahead of Our Zak Whitby in the Pearl Classic.”

On that occasion, Voak’s judgment was spot on. Im Rockaria won the Group 1 classic and Our Zak Whitby finished fourth.

Voak has driven Lady De La Renta at her past 12 starts for five wins, two thirds and five unplaced efforts and he has driven Veiled Secret nine times for five wins, a second, a third and two unplaced runs. His past four drives behind Veiled Secret resulted in wins at Narrogin, Bunbury, Pinjarra and Gloucester Park.

Leading reinsman Shannon Suvaljko has been engaged to drive Veiled Secret, who will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line. Lady De La Renta will start from barrier four and the talented Infinite Symbol, a winner of seven races, including three wins from her past four starts, will begin from the No. 5 barrier.

“Lady De La Renta won the Group 2 Diamond Classic three starts ago and she is a very classy filly,” Voak said. In that event Lady De La Renta started from barrier four, got to the front after 250m and set the pace before winning by three lengths from WA Oaks winner Our Major Mama, with Veiled Secret a nose away in third place after racing without cover for much of the way.

“Veiled Secret has stepped up in the past six weeks,” Voak said. “I always knew she had the ability, but she had tractability issues. However, she seems to be putting it all together now. I normally keep Veiled Secret pretty comfy out of the gate because I don’t want her to break by putting her out of her comfort zone.

“Lady De La Renta is a bit the same; you’ve got to let her find her feet early. If either of the two finds the lead I think that filly would be almost unbeatable. Infinite Symbol, Cimorene and Cott Beach are good fillies and must be respected.

“Regarding my choice, I would say that if you were to go on just pure times, it would be a no-brainer. Veiled Secret is the fastest three-year-old filly in WA ever (rating 1.53.6 in winning from Our Major Mama over 1684m at Pinjarra two starts ago).

“Millwood Meg and Arctic Fire each rated 1.54.8 in winning over 1670m at Pinjarra in 2010 and that was a world record time for a filly on a 1000m track.”

Ryan Warwick is likely to attempt to steal a march on Veiled Secret and Lady De La Renta by taking advantage of Infinite Symbol’s sparkling gate speed in a concerted bid to burst to an early lead.

Infinite Symbol has set the pace and won at Pinjarra at two of her past three starts. At her latest outing, at Gloucester Park last Friday night, Infinite Symbol gave a splendid performance to race in the breeze, take a narrow lead 80m from the post and finish a close second to Veiled Secret in the Westsired Pace. Veiled Secret enjoyed an ideal; passage, one-out and one-back, before getting to the front in the final couple of strides.

Cott Beach, the best-performed filly in Friday night’s Group 1 feature with 13 wins, 11 placings and $249,872 in prizemoney, disappointed as a 10/9 on favourite in last week’s event when she set the pace and wilted over the final stages to finish fourth, will start from the No. 6 barrier on Friday night. She is capable of unwinding a brilliant finishing burst and is capable of bouncing back to top form.