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Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators

Craig Saligari, foreman for Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg, celebrated his 44TH birthday on Friday night in joyful style when the stable’s indefatigable and consistent performer Bracken Sky thundered home from the rear to snatch a dramatic last-stride victory in the 2130m Delta Print Excellence In Service Pace.

Bracken Sky, a $9.40 chance, was patiently handled by Shannon Suvaljko, who was happy to restrain the New South Wales-bred gelding from the No. 5 barrier and race in seventh position in the field of eight while the polemarker and $5.50 chance Space Junk was bowling along in front, with the $1.45 favourite Miracle Moose enjoying an ideal passage in the one-out, one-back position.

Emily Suvaljko sent Miracle Moose forward, three wide, with 900m to travel, but the favourite did not sprint as strongly as generally expected. Shannon Suvaljko, who had followed Miracle Moose, elected to remain in the one-wide line and was shuffled back to seventh in the field of eight before starting a three-wide move at the 650m mark.

Soon after that, Bracken Sky was able to get the trail behind Miracle Moose in the one-wide line. Miracle Moose was fighting on doggedly but was unable to overhaul the pacemaker. Bracken Sky was off again three wide at the 250m and he flew home to snatch victory by a half-head from Space Junk, with Miracle Moose a close third and Tyler Brett an unlucky fourth.

Bracken Sky thoroughly deserved to break through for a win and end a losing run of eleven after he had finished second at his two previous starts. A week earlier he had set the pace in a 2536m event and was beaten a half-head by the flying Will I Rocknroll.

Padberg said that Bracken Sky possessed excellent gate speed, but she decided against using this asset on Friday night. “He’s fast and last week he found the 2500m was just a bit too far and he was beaten on the line,” she said.

“Even with his gate speed I don’t like using it every week. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking him down. Tonight, we decided to bale out (at the start), and it worked perfectly.

“The win helped Craig to celebrate his birthday. He has been working for me, on and off, for the past 20 years. He drives all the trackwork, and Bracken Sky and he click together.”

Bracken Sky, purchased for $20,000 from NSW breeder John Starr in September 2019, has proved to be a wonderful investment for Padberg, her husband John and long-time stable clients David and Adele Simmonds. His 66 starts in WA have produced seven wins and 18 placings for stakes of $144,506. His lifetime record is 111 starts for 17 wins, 32 placings and $213,287.

Bracken Sky, by American sire Rocknroll Heaven, is out of Redemption, who had 27 starts for ten wins, six placings and $60,768. Redemption also produced Absolution, who won five races in WA for John and Debbie Padberg in a 15-start career of 20 wins and 53 placings for stakes of $132,211.