By Julieanne Horsman
Jockey Mark Pegus only picked up the ride on Santa Ana Lane in the XXXX Gold Wagga Town Plate this morning after Chad Lever injured his back and couldn’t make the trip.
The pressure to perform was on.
“Lee (Freedman) rang me this morning and said I’ve put you down on this horse, don’t mess it up,” Pegus said.
He certainly didn’t disappoint, piloting Santa Ana Lane to a two-length victory for Lee and Anthony Freedman against an impressive field.
“There was a good tempo and I didn’t want to be stuck in on the fence so I just drifted back a little bit further,” Pegus said.
On the turn Santa Ana Lane had them all to pass but by the 200m he’d done it, kicking away for a dominant win from Lord Von Costa and Hermosa Beach. Town Plate Prelude winner Man Of Peace was two lengths away fourth and last year’s winner Just A Blur was fifth.
“We weren’t planning on being that far back,” Freedman Racing Manager Brad Taylor said. “We told Mark (jockey) just be handy, be in the first half of the field but the main thing was just to get to the outside.
“We knew we had the best horse in the field and we weren’t worried when he was wide on the corner as we knew he could outsprint them all.”
The win was Lee Freedman’s second Wagga Town Plate, having won the feature race back in 1984 with Fervour. Retired jockey and Sky Racing Presenter John Scorse, who was broadcasting from the track today, was aboard for that win. Freedman was moving from Sydney to Melbourne at the time and the detour inland to Wagga paid dividends.
The Freedman stable is yet to decide what’s next for the Santa Ana Lane.
“We’ll take him home and see how gets through it. He has only had three runs this prep. There are a couple of options for him,” Taylor said.
“It’s wonderful to have this horse back. He has great ability and showed that today.”
The two day Wagga carnival culminates tomorrow with the Listed Kristopher Graydon Jewellers Wagga Gold Cup.
Lee and Anthony Freedman have a chance to complete the Wagga Triple Crown with Exocet in the Wagga Guineas and Cool Chap in the Cup.