Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Not only is Justin Prentice a wonderful judge of selecting yearling pacers, but he has earned the reputation as one of Australia’s best trainers of juveniles.
He selected an Art Major colt and paid $40,000 to secure him at the 2021 APG Perth yearling sale before the youngster, now a gelding named Valedictorian, was syndicated to a big group of Trotsynd syndicate members.
Valedictorian, the $1.30 favourite from the No. 1 barrier, was an impressive all-the-way winner of the $100,000 APG Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night to give the 33-year-old Prentice his 21ST success of a group 1 feature event.
Valedictorian was handled by champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr (who had driven Cabsav to victory in the Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies 30 minutes earlier) to give the 39-year-old his 57TH group 1 victory.
Valedictorian had an easy time in front, with a lead time of 8.4sec. and opening 400m sections of 31.1sec. and 31.4sec. before dashing over the final quarters in 28.3sec. and 27.2sec. to beat Rocket City ($6.50) by one and a half lengths, rating 1.57.6. Rocket City, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, finished solidly from sixth at the bell. Crowd Control ($16) was two lengths farther back in third place.
This was Valedictorian’s second win, following his easy all-the-way debut success on the Tuesday afternoon the previous week. He now has earned $66,085 for his connections.
“There are only 20 shares in Valedictorian, but I’ve been told that there’s 20 people in one of the shares,” said Prentice. A throng of 39 excited shareholders thronged on to the track for the rugging of the winner, with Prentice saying: “It’s good for the sport to get new people involved.”
Asked why he had selected Valedictorian as a yearling, Prentice said: “He ticked most of the boxes, or almost all the boxes. I like Art Majors, and this youngster seemed to have a great relaxed attitude. And he certainly has that now.
“Tonight, was the first time he had raced under lights, and he was so quiet and relaxed all night. I’ll keep him in work as long as he pulls up all right, and then give him a break just before winter, and then look for the $225,000 Westbred Classic (September 16) and the $125,000 Golden Slipper (September 30).
Valedictorian is out of Courage On Fire, who had 90 starts for 12 wins, 25 placings and $102,378. She won twice in New Zealand and had five wins in New South Wales and another five in WA.