An eleventh-hour bid to secure a spot in the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) went to plan at Otaki on Saturday when rugged three-year-old Platinum Invador took out the last race on the day.
An interrupted run in last week’s Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) saw the Lisa Latta-trained gelding finish unplaced and languishing in 22nd place on the order of entry for the Ellerslie blue riband event that will be run on March 2.
With entry to the 18-horse Derby field based on stakes earned it left the connections of Platinum Invador no option but to try to improve his position up the ladder with a win at Otaki.
A heady ride by Chris Johnson saw Platinum Invador weave a course between runners in the home straight to earn a comfortable victory and, importantly, secure a valuable $15,625 injection to his career earnings.
That lifted the Redwood three-year-old into 19th place on the order of entry, just one spot away from a guaranteed Derby start.
Latta was philosophical about the position she now finds herself in with Platinum Invador who is looking to join stablemates Sir Nate and Lincoln Falls in the Ellerslie feature.
“It’s really in the lap of the gods now,” Latta said.
“We’ve done all we can and it would be good to get a start with him as I think we have all seen he is very much a genuine stayer and will be suited by the 2400m of the Derby.
“It’s not ideal that we might have to race three weeks in a row, but he has pulled up well and if he can make the final field, I think he will acquit himself well.”
Latta is pleased with her two guaranteed Derby runners who have taken contrasting paths to the event.
“Sir Nate worked really well at home on Saturday morning and I’m very pleased with him,” she said.
“He had a decent break after running third in the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1 1600m) and has steadily improved in his three starts since then.
“He was running on nicely in the Avondale Guineas and will be at peak fitness for the Derby. He is a classy customer who has performed well at the top level so he would have to be a big chance.”
Lightly raced Dundeel colt Lincoln Falls has also pleased Latta after not enjoying the best of racing luck in his most recent starts which include a promising fifth in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa.
“I think we have learnt a lot with Lincoln Falls in his last two runs,” she said.
“He has a very good sprint at the end of his races, but we have probably been guilty of riding him a little too far back.
“The track was funny at Te Rapa last time and he made up really good ground in a race that was dominated by those on the pace.
“If we can draw a good barrier in the Derby and he can find a forward position then I think he could surprise a few people.
“I guess that will be the same for everyone as barrier draws are key in these types of races. A little rain wouldn’t hurt as well, especially for Sir Nate, but we will just have to see how it all pans out and just play the cards we are dealt.” – NZ Racing Desk