Trainer Kuah Cheng Tee’s well-known partiality towards US-breds will no doubt grow further after Big Wave opened his account at his sixth start in the $85,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1400m on Sunday.
Big Wave is the first progeny by US stallion Blame to race at Kranji. The son of Arch is famous the world over for being the only horse to have inflicted champion mare Zenyatta her only defeat right at her last career star in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2010. Top jockey Mike Smith was widely held responsible for the unsavoury ending to the fairytale in the way he held her too far at the back in the running.
Kuah might not have been fully aware of such dramatic background when his US-based uncle rang him up about the unraced Blame two-year-old, but he liked what he saw, and did not fail to give a nod to American breeding and the people who help him source some of their finest for the Singapore market.
Big Wave (Ryan Curatolo) produces his winning burst in Race 2, picture Singapore Turf Club
“I love US-breds. I think they are more suitable to the racing here, especially on the Polytrack, as they race on the dirt in America,” said the Singaporean trainer.
“I’d like to thank the US trainer who recommended Big Wave, Don Bernard, and of course my uncle, who is based there and helps me to buy US horses.
“He was quite keen in the box-seat today and I have to say I was a bit worried, but once Ryan (Curatolo) took him out, he was more relaxed and he gave a nice kick in the home straight.”
Curatolo certainly had half the battle won when he was able to steer Big Wave, who was backed down to $16 favouritism late, from his wide alley into a perfect spot behind race-leader Kranji Gold (Michael Rodd).
But then, Big Wave immediately started to pull when the pace slackened up, even causing him to lose his spot to fifth but still hugging the rails.
Luckily for him and his backers, Gingerman (Zawari Razali) whipped around to come and inject more speed into the race, which was when he settled a lot better.
Kranji Gold sure looked the part when he opened up at the top of the straight, but as hard as he tried, he had no answer to Big Wave’s superior turn of foot inside the last furlong.
Big Wave went on to score by 1 ¼ lengths from Heng Kingdom (Glen Boss) with Kranji Gold third another neck away. The winning time was 1min 24.44secs for the 1400m on the Short Course
“He jumped from a wide gate but it wasn’t too bad in the end as he settled behind the speed set by Michael Rodd’s horse,” said Curatolo.
“But when they slowed up the pace, my horse was quite keen. He was okay when they went faster and when he went through a gap, he was just too good.
“I think he’s still not 100% mature but he has a bright future here.”