Leading WA Oaks contender Black Jack Baby will perform even better this week than she did when an impressive winner last Friday night is the confident prediction of star reinsman Chris Voak.
Black Jack Baby, prepared by her owner-breeder Shane Quadrio, will start from the No. 3 barrier in the 2130m Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night and Voak aims to use the filly’s dazzling gate speed.
“Shane gave her 12 days off before last week’s race and we decided to restrain her at the start in the field of six,” said Voak.
Black Jack Baby relaxed in last position while Unconditional set a dawdling early pace. Black Jack Baby was still last at the 400m before she exploded with a three and four-wide burst to hit the front 250m from the finish on her way to winning by one and a half lengths from Joelene. The final quarters were run in 28.2sec. and 28.4sec.
Voak indicated that the Justin Prentice-trained Always An Angel (barrier four) posed a threat, and he said he would like Black Jack Baby to settle ahead of her.
“Black Jack Baby ran a very good race last week and we expect her to go much better this week,” said Voak. “I’ll be going forward from barrier three this week and I’ll be trying to lead. But this could change, depending on what Shane wants me to do.”
Always An Angel, a winner at six of her nine starts, has finished fifth and fourth at her past two starts when she raced wide early and then in the breeze.
“I was disappointed with her past two runs,” said Prentice. “I didn’t expect her to sit in the breeze and win, but I thought she would’ve hung on a bit better than she did. She will probably be driven a bit differently on Friday.”
Joelene is an interesting runner and, from the No. 1 barrier, is capable of a bold showing, despite her record of only one win from 12 starts. She possesses excellent gate speed and should be dangerous, either leading or taking the trail behind the leader. She will be driven by her trainer Colin Brown.
The Debra Lewis-trained Rumour Has It comes into the race with sound credentials — six wins and four seconds from 13 starts. She will begin out wide at barrier seven, but champion reinsman Chris Lewis warned that punters should not disregard her winning prospects.
“Rumour Has It is right up there with the others, and provided it is an honest-run race, she will go good,” he declared.
Voak also has strong claims in the $25,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Crown for two-year-old fillies, a 1730m feature event in which he will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Taking The Miki from the favourable No. 2 barrier.
Taking the Miki has won in convincing fashion at Northam and Gloucester park since she broke at her debut and finished fourth behind Wonderful To Fly on debut at Gloucester Park early last month.
“I expect her to go really well,” said Voak. She is not yet fully fit but is improving with every run.”
Extraordinary Mary, trained by Jemma Hayman and an all-the-way winner two starts ago before putting up a courageous performance to race without cover and fight on grandly to finish a close second to the pacemaker Valhalla Miss in the $100,000 Sales Classic three weeks ago, will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko from the No. 3 barrier and should fight out the finish.
Wonderful To Fly, trained and driven by Shane Young, shows plenty of promise with a win and a third placing from three starts and is capable of a strong effort from the outside barrier in the field of eight.
Adding plenty of interest will be the appearance of debutants Artistic Scribe and Betterthansecret, each of whom are recent trial winners.
Artistic Scribe, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, set the pace and dashed over the final 400m in 27.6sec. when she won a 1609m trial at Bunbury on Wednesday of last week. She beat Been Scootin, the only other runner to finish the trial, by a length in a time of 2min. A week earlier Artistic Scribe won a five-horse 1684m Pinjarra trial in slow time when she was fifth at the 400m and went four wide on the home turn before easily beating Infamiss.
Betterthan Secret, to be driven by Michael Grantham for trainer Michael Brennan, set the pace and won a 1684m Pinjarra trial by a head from stablemate Pocket the Change on Wednesday of last week.
By Ken Casellas