Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell is a good judge of horseflesh, and he has no regrets that he outlaid $25,000 to purchase a colt by American stallion Betting Line at the 2020 APG Perth yearling sale.
The colt is now the highly promising two-year-old gelding Whataretheodds, who is raced by a syndicate of 13 pacing enthusiasts who are excited at the prospect of watching him contest the $100,000 Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Bell has prepared Whataretheodds for his seven starts that have produced four wins and two second placings, including a runaway victory in a Pearl qualifying heat on Tuesday of last week, and the trainer has high hopes that the gelding will go one better than his previous Pearl runner, Shockwave, a $14.30 chance who stormed home from seventh at the 500m mark to finish second to Franco Edward in June 2018.
Whataretheodds has excelled as a two-year-old, just like his dam, the Mach Three mare Generally Outspoken, who raced 13 times as a two-year-old for four wins and four placings, including a notable victory in the group 3 Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park in July 2013.
It was in that classic event that Maddy White finished fifth. She is the dam of Floewriter, one of the main dangers to Whatearetheodds on Friday night.
Whataretheodds, to be driven by Michael Grantham, is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier seven. But he is a versatile pacer, and Grantham will assess his options as the race unfolds.
Whataretheodds was the fastest of the three heat winners, recording a gross time of 2min. 35.3sec. when he led from the No. 3 barrier and dashed over the final quarters in 28.8sec. and 28.1sec. to win by five lengths from Jackpot Joe.
Jackpot Joe looms as a major player in Friday night’s Group 1 feature for owner-trainer Barry Howlett and champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who combined to win the Pearl with Jack Mac in 2017. Though well beaten by Whataretheodds in a heat, Jackpot Joe put up a tremendous effort. He started from the outside barrier (No. 9), raced three wide for the first 600m and then in the breeze before fighting on grimly.
The Pearl has been run 34 times, with Lewis seeking a record-equalling sixth victory after successes with Lombo Laredo (1994), Mitemptation (1995), Argent Treasure (2007), Jack Mac (2017) and Manning (2019). The record is held by Rod Chambers, who won the event with Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Miss Booth (1991), Whitbys Merit (1993), Atomichron (1996), Mon Supremo (1997) and Henry T Whitby (1998).
Capel trainer Aiden de Campo holds a strong hand in this week’s race. He prepares The Miki Taker (barrier four), Floewriter (five) and Rock On Top (inside of the back line). He has opted to handle Rock On Top, a winner at three of his six starts and a last-start fourth behind Whataretheodds in a Pearl heat when he finished doggedly after racing three wide in the final circuit.
Dylan Egerton-Green will handle The Miki Taker, and Gary Hall Jnr will drive Floewriter.
The Miki Taker has won at two of his four starts and revealed excellent fighting qualities when he raced in the breeze and finished a close second to Whos The Dad in a qualifying heat. He finished boldly from last at the bell in a field of six to win from Whataretheodds at his previous appearance.
Floewriter set the pace and won a heat by four lengths from Northern Gaze. Two starts before that he led and finished second to Tomlous Jambo in the Group 1 Sales Classic.
Chris Voak will drive Whos The Dad, who is favourably drawn at barrier No. 2 for breeder-owner-trainer Kevin Charles. Whos The Dad won for the second time from nine starts when he led from barrier three and beat The Miki Taker by a metre in a heat.
“He has good speed, and it would be good to try to lead,” said Voak. “However, if he doesn’t lead. He is going to be close enough to the speed to be a top five chance from the good draw.”
Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who were successful in last year’s Pearl with $5 chance Jett Star (who ran on to defeat Lavra Joe), will be pinning their faith on The Running Camel, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick and will need a touch of luck to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier on the front line.
The Running Camel caught the eye in a heat when he galloped at the start and finished strongly from ninth and last at the 250m mark to be fourth behind Whos The Dad.
by Ken Casellas