As he made his way home from Palmerston North on Sunday morning, New Zealand trainer Murray Baker was reflecting on some mixed results for his Cambridge stable the previous day.
The day had started full of promise with progressive two-year-old Mr Maestro running out a comfortable winner at Avondale before a combination of bad luck at Awapuni and unsuitable track conditions in Sydney put paid to the chances that he and training partner Andrew Forsman had to snare a Group One victory.
Last start Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) winner Lickety Split was caught wide throughout the running of the Group 1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m), before suffering a decent home bend bump from race favourite Dynastic that put her out of contention, while both White Noise and Regal Lion failed to handle the tricky Heavy track at Randwick when finishing well back in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
Baker preferred to reflect on the positive from the day with Mr Maestro rated as a potential shining star during his three-year-old campaign next season.
“He is a very promising horse and I thought it was quite a smart win on Saturday,” Baker said.
“He didn't have much luck in running in his first two starts, but with some better luck this time he showed what he was capable of.
“We'll have a think about what we do with him next but, being by Savabeel, I think he is only going to get better with time, so next season he could well be capable of running in some of the better age-group races.
“He is from an outstanding family that we have had some good luck with, so it augurs well for his future.”
Raced by a group that includes former Auckland Racing Club board members John Stubbs and Brian Stevenson, Mr Maestro was a NZD$100,000 purchase by Forsman out of the Windsor Park draft at the 2020 National Yearling sale at Karaka.
He is out of the outstanding racemare Let Me Roar, who won her first six starts before being retired after finishing third in the Group 2 Easter Stakes at Ellerslie. She is a daughter of quality broodmare Lioness who is the dam of Baker's Group 1 VRC Derby winner Lion Tamer and multiple winners Botti and Lubaya.
Baker was left to rue the bad luck suffered by previously unbeaten filly Lickety Split who was never closer than three-wide in the running during the Sires' Produce Stakes before suffering a terminal check from the wayward Dynastic.
“It all just went wrong for her as she was trapped wide then copped it on the corner,” he said.
“She will go for a spell now as she has done plenty in this prep and is a very valuable filly after that Group One win at Ellerslie.
“We think she will be better as a three-year-old so Andrew will have some fun with her next season.
“The day didn't finish off too well in Sydney either with our two three-year-olds (White Noise and Regal Lion) not coping with what was a very tricky surface at Randwick so they will most likely be heading to the spelling paddock now as well.”
Baker will hand over the stable reins to Forsman when he retires at the end of this month but is not planning on a lightning trip to Sydney this weekend to watch stable runner The Chosen One tackle the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick.
“Andrew is over in Sydney with the horses so I will be staying closer to home,” he said.
“We've got The Chosen One in the Sydney Cup and he is ready to go a big race.
“I think the biggest danger will be Duais, who beat him in the Tancred Stakes last time (Group 1, 2400m) as she comes in with such a light weight (51kgs) and we might not be able to head her if the track stays wet.
“We really want some drying weather over there as The Chosen One is far better suited on a decent track, but he will go a good race regardless as he always tries his best.”
Baker also advised that promising stayer Marroni, who finished third in the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) at his first Australian start, will be seen next in the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) at Randwick on April 16.