Emma Stewart set the foundations for another golden Group 1 meeting with a brilliant training display at Melton on Saturday night.
The Cardigan horsewoman fell just short of equaling her record of nine winners at a single race meeting when she claimed seven of the eight Breeders Crown semi-finals and took out the Breeders Crown Championship for four-year-old mares with Fiamma.
Stewart is poised to dominate next weekend’s Breeders Crown pacing finals, and perhaps the most exciting stoush will be the one between her unbeaten two-year-old fillies Very Pretty and Draw A Dream.
Very Pretty stretched her unbeaten record to four with an all-the-way victory in the first semi-final for driver Mark Pitt before Draw A Dream extended her’s to six after a dominant display in the second qualifier.
Pitt was full of compliments for the star daughter of American Ideal, who provided him with one of six winners for the evening.
“She’s a lovely filly,” Pitt said.
“Every time she steps out, she seems to get a little bit better. Even with her racing manners, she seems a lot better.
“Obviously it’s going to come down to the draw as well in the final, but I think this one is a pretty special filly.”
While Very Pretty zipped home in slashing final quarter of 26.3, Draw A Dream upped the pace in the third section of the last mile. With Rickie Alchin’s top filly Lux Aeterna up on her outside, Draw A Dream put the foot down with a third quarter of 26.9 before forging clear in the home straight to win by more than eight metres over stablemate Eureka Jo.
“It’s going to be a great race in the final, isn’t it?,” Draw A Dream’s driver David Moran said.
“She seems to have a fair few strings to her bow. She’s quite quick, (but) she can get a little bit keen. Her mannerisms are probably about the only thing… when that adjusts she’s going to make a really nice horse.”
Draw A Dream is looking for a rare feature double in her first season of racing after taking out September’s Vicbred Super Series Final.
Timmy Rictor was brilliant from the front in the first semi-final for the two-year-old colts and geldings, leading and dashing home in a rapid 26.3 last quarter to win by nearly 8m over stablemate Some American.
After dominating both qualifiers, Moran felt his charge was a great chance in next weekend’s Group 1 showdown.
“Obviously barrier draws play a big part with some of these really nice two-year-olds, but I think he definitely is,” Moran said.
“He seems to have all the attributes of a nice horse. He’s got terrific gate speed and he’s got a fair bit of bottom to him, so hopefully luck comes our way.”
Pitt picked-up the drive of Freddy Taiba-trained Nathan Street in the other semi-final for two-year-old colts and geldings, and the son of Lazarus held off favourite Kingman to deny Stewart a record-equalling night at the office.
The 29-year-old reinsman won both semis for three-year-old colts and geldings, and hinted that he would likely drive Oliver Dan over Perfect Class in next weekend’s Group 1 final.
“The draw is going to be a big thing, but I’m probably leaning towards this fella at this stage,” Pitt said.
Major Delight produced a brilliant death seat success in her semi-final for three-year-old fillies and will likely start favourite in her bid for back-to-back Breeders Crown titles.
Stablemate Joyful sat parked for the last lap and snuck home for a narrow victory in the division’s other showdown on Saturday night.
The first six horses over the line in each semi-final – as well as the fastest seventh place-getter – now progress to the November 25 finals. Barrier draws for the four pacing and four trotting features will be conducted on Tuesday.