A few anxious moments prior to the race were quickly forgotten when two-year-old debutant The Fugitive showed his rivals a clean pair of heels at Awapuni on Saturday.
The John Bary-trained runner was in high spirits behind the barrier and briefly escaped from rider Rosie Myers before being captured by the clerk of the course.
Passed fit to race, the Wanted colt bounced quickly from an inside gate and led his rivals a merry dance throughout the 1100m contest. Rated to perfection by Myers, The Fugitive skipped clear in the run home to score from the fast-finishing Pukekohe visitor Qiji Spirit with local filly Platinum Touch battling on strongly for third.
The victory brought up a milestone for Bary as it was his 200th win as a trainer.
“Someone just sent me a text saying it was winner number 200 so that was a nice way to bring it up,” he said.
“We’ve thought a fair bit of him for awhile now so it was good to get this one under his belt.
“He looked to do it fairly easily as he had them all off the bit on the corner and there was plenty still in the tank at the finish.”
Bary admitted he was a little on edge when The Fugitive got loose before the start but recalled a previous incident of the same nature a few years ago that had ended in victory for him.
“Funnily enough Survived got loose here one day and then came out and won the Manawatu Classic so maybe it can be a good omen at times,” he said.
“He is a bit of a thinker this horse but when he gets down to business, he is very professional. He can get on the toe but once he is on the track he knuckles down well.
“This will be a good learning experience for him so there is a lot to look forward to.”
Bary will now monitor the colt’s recovery before committing to any future plans although he has his eye on a Group One target later in the summer.
“He’s not eligible for the Karaka Million so we can take our time with him,” he said.
“We are thinking about the Group One (Sistema Stakes) at Ellerslie in March as his main aim, so we will now work backwards from there.
“There is a nice race at Wellington next month which could be next but there are plenty of options available to him.”
The Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) is one of the feature events at Ellerslie on the second day of the Auckland Cup Carnival on March 9. – NZ Racing Desk