Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Brilliant four-year-old Eldaytona is showing no signs of a fractured knee which threatened to end his career 16 months ago, and he continued to march to stardom when he gave a superb display to win the 2536m Allwood Stud Devoted To Breeding Excellence Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He missed the entire three-year-old season and now has won at six of his nine starts this season to boost his record to 25 starts for nine wins and eleven seconds for stakes of $73,879.
The gelding, trained by Sue Wiscombe, was favourite at $2.90 and was unable to cross to the front from his awkward draw at No. 5. But this proved no impediment as he went on to outclass his rivals.
After his unsuccessful early bid for the lead Eldaytona settled in seventh position before Lindsay Harper sent him forward in the first lap with a three-wide burst to move to the breeze outside the pacemaker and $4.60 third favourite The Code Breaker.
He then began to pull fiercely before Nevermindthechaos ($4.40) dashed forward to the breeze to give him an ideal trip in the one-out, one-back position 1250m from home.
Nevermindthechaos took a narrow lead with 430m to travel before Eldaytona surged to the front on the home bend and won by a length and a half from that mare, rating 1.57.3.
Harper conceded that he was slightly concerned when Eldaytona was unable to get to an early lead and again when he was overracing badly in the breeze.
“When the fields came out it looked dicey (about winning the start and getting to the front) because there was quite a bit of speed inside of him,” he said. “I actually tried to tuck in (in the one-wide line) after 150m but the gap wasn’t enough for me.
“So, I let him settle three wide and just relied on his ability and took him forward and had a look for the lead. Once I stirred him up to try to get to the front he wouldn’t come back, and he pulled terribly hard for 600m until Nevermindthechaos came.
“And once I let Nevermindthechaos get in front of me (into the breeze) Eldaytona came back to me and settled. It all worked out well. He is a quality horse, and you can’t fault his form.”
Harper said that he was hopeful that Eldaytona would be eligible to run in the $50,000 APG Four-Year-Old Consolation on May 27.
“He was scratched from the qualifying heat that Mighty Ronaldo won,” said Harper. “That was because Sue and I had COVID, and Sue didn’t want anyone else to race him. He is a funny horse who gets quite excited and starts bunny-hopping before a race.
“The conditions for the APG event say that the first five placegetters in the heats for the entires and geldings and for the mares go into the final,” said Harper. “Mighty Ronaldo is now in Sydney, so that could leave a spot in the final.
“Taking into consideration the circumstances he was scratched from the heat, there probably should be an opportunity for Eldaytona to run in the $50,000 final. He missed the Derby and all the big races for three-year-olds, and he deserves a hance in one of the big races. So, I’ve got to find out whether he is eligible.”
Eldaytona was injured during a race at Gloucester Park on December 31, 2020. X-ray examinations revealed a fracture in a knee, and a pin was inserted during surgery. However, the pin failed to remain in place and had to be removed. He made a full recovery and now is racing without any discomfort.
Eldaytona is raced by Wiscombe, Harper and the gelding’s breeders Kevin and Annette Charles. Wiscombe was the main bidder for him at the 2019 APG Perth yearling sale when he failed to reach his reserve price of $20,000 and was passed in.
“I wasn’t keen to pay $20,000 for him because he had a bit of a scar on the back of his fetlock on a back leg,” explained Wiscombe. “Eventually Lindsay and I paid $15,000, plus GST, for a 75 per cent share of him, with Kevin and Annette keeping a 25 per cent share.”
“I like Eldaytona because of his breeding,” said Wiscombe. Eldaytona is the seventh foal out of the unraced New Zealand-bred mare Hearty Franco, who has also produced Lady Luca and Delightfull.
Lady Luca earned $134,568 from nine wins and eight placings from 65 starts, including her victory in the group 1 Diamond Classic in June 2016. Delightfull has had 82 starts for eight wins, 19 placings and $92,220.
Hearty Franco’s dam Heather Franco also produced Franco Hat Trick (191 starts for 30 wins, including the 1998 Chariots of Fire at Harold Park, 66 placings and $659,210) and Franco Heir (83 starts for 19 wins, including the 2001 New South Wales Derby, 16 placings and $392,272).