Winning debut for Wooden Heart
American-bred newcomer Wooden Heart got off to a flier in the $75,000 Born To Fly 2014 Stakes, a Restricted Maiden race over 1100m on Friday night.
The two-year-old colt by The Factor had already given glimpses of his ability at his two barrier trials, winning the first from start to finish.
That was exactly the same blueprint that Manoel Nunes (who rode him at both trials) used at his baptism of fire, going on to frank that positive impression etched at the trial despite jumping from the outermost alley in the 10-horse field.
Wooden Heart (Manoel Nunes) clears out for a facile debut win on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Scrubbed up with earnest the moment the gates crashed back, Wooden Heart, who races in the familiar sky blue colours of Thai outfit Falcon Racing No 7, was able to outspeed his nine rivals rather easily before securing the steel.
Nunes threw out the anchors from that point, but slipping just an inch of a rein to hold main danger and $14 favourite Sattar (Oscar Chavez) at arm’s length from the backstraight to the home turn.
A regal battle was on cards when Chavez drew first blood shortly upon straightening, but Nunes was on high alert as he clicked Wooden Heart up for another gear, obviously mindful not to concede any ground at any stage.
The signs of trainer Michael Clements’ polish came through inside the last furlong as Wooden Heart flattened out on cue as he went through his gears to actually shake Sattar off with relative ease before drawing clear for a comfortable 1 ¾-length win.
Sent out as the top elect for the fifth time in as many starts, Sattar had to again play second fiddle. So superior were the first pair that third-placed Sorbeta (Michael Rodd) was more than five lengths astern. The winning time was 1min 7.04secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
“He’s a big strong horse the owners bought from the breeze-up sale in the US in June last year,” said Clements.
“He came to us around three to four months ago and has been a straightforward horse to train.
“He’s still big and raw, but he should come on from tonight’s first run. He showed plenty of qualities in his work and his trials.
“I believe he has a nice future here.”
Nunes echoed the same bullish sentiments about Wooden Heart when he jumped off.
“He’s a lovely horse with a lot of ability. He was a bit tricky at the barriers but he was always travelling so well for me,” said the Brazilian hoop.
“I just rode my race and he just finished it off. I think the light weight (53.5kgs) also helped him.”