Boy Wonder back on the right track

A bit of a letdown at his last start, Boy Wonder bounced straight back to form to land the $85,000 Novice race over 1200m on Polytrack, albeit by the slenderest of margins, on Sunday.

The Brazilian-bred four-year-old shed his maiden tag in impressive fashion in a Polytrack race over 1100m in February, but went by the wayside at his next start when a fading 10th in a similar Novice race over 1200m, but on turf.

The defeat may have thrown a dampener in the camp’s mood, but trainer Saimee Jumaat’s decision to set Boy Wonder for another Novice race over 1200m, but back to his winning surface quickly brought the smiles back.

Boy Wonder (Vlad Duric) locks horn with Nova Vocal (Craig Grylls) on the inside, picture Singapore Turf Club

Reuniting with jockey Vlad Duric was also another winning factor. The Singapore champion jockey rode Boy Wonder at that maiden win, but gave way to Saimee’s apprentice jockey Noh Senari at his last outing.

Duric had to, however, earn every cent of his riding fee when Boy Wonder ($29) was collared by favourite Nova Vocal (Craig Grylls) on his inside at the 300m as they went on to wage a titanic battle for the remainder of the contest.

James Peters’ gamble of backing up the Irish-bred three-year-old by Vocalised one week from his impressive debut win last Sunday seemed to be returning dividends at that juncture when Nova Vocal was seen slowly but surely wearing Boy Wonder down.

But the challenge also seemed to spur Boy Wonder on even more as he kept finding under Duric’s persuader, lunging right at the line to hold Nova Vocal off by a nose. Come And Take All (Ryan Curatolo) ran third another 1 ¼ lengths away.

Odds-on favourite and Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge hopeful Imperium (Glen Boss) had every chance but did not unwind as expected when called upon, finishing fourth another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 12.78secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.

Originally prepared by ex-Kranji champion trainer Laurie Laxon, and briefly by his successor Lee Freedman, Boy Wonder has brought up two wins to his name (both under Saimee) and was placed four times. The son of Brazilian stallion Mastro Lorenzo has taken his overall stakes earnings past the $125,000 mark for the Loti-A Stable.

Saimee said he had been trying to get to the bottom of Boy Wonder’s lacklustre last run – eventually coming up with what he felt was the most plausible answer.

“I don’t know what really happened at his last start, but in hindsight, I think we were too focused on beating Zac Kasa and it backfired,” said the former eight-time Singapore champion jockey.

“We were trying too hard to win the race and we went all out to track Zac Kasa, but the horse didn’t give himself a chance by doing that.

“Today, we just let him settle where he was comfortable, he was back on the Polytrack, Vlad rode him a treat and we got the results.”

The strength of the Australian jockey was indeed seen at his utmost best on the Brazilian-bred, with his relentless whip-wielding extracting every drop of petrol left in the tank to get the job done.

“He was a little lost in front but when the second horse came at us at the 100m it fired my bloke up,” said Duric. “He was in for the fight and he scored a gutsy win.

“I said to Saimee we should keep him to Polytrack as he failed on the grass the last time. Today he put his best foot forward back on the Polytrack.”

Saimee had to, however, wait for a few anxious seconds before he could head down to the Champagne Room to celebrate when Peters and Grylls decided to consult the TV replay of the last 200m to determine if there was any ground for protest. In the end, they decided not to press on, and Saimee could pop the bubbly.