Senor Don arrived in Singapore from Argentina with a reputation that he would be a serious player in Group races over a mile or further, but he added a 1200m win to his resume at Kranji on Sunday to round off a double for SA-born trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
The gelding was aimed at many feature races at Kranji that included a crack at the Gr1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m), the Singapore Guineas (1600m), the Gr2 Singapore Classic (1400m) in 2020, the Gr1 Kranji Mile (1600m) and the Singapore Derby (1800m), as well as the Gr2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) last year.
All of them were run on the turf and ultimately, all unsuccessful.
His breeding (Argentina) suggested the Polytrack was always going to be his best surface. Given that a second placing in the 2020 Gr3 Colonial Chief Stakes over the mile and his only two wins in Singapore were all over the mile and all on the Polytrack, it was a no-brainer that the trip and track was his caper.
But a very good recent trial form (second to Crystal Warrior on July 14) on the back of an eye-catching first-up run over 1100m on June 18 suggested that he could sprint.
Sent out at lukewarm odds of SG$37 in the $70,000 Class 3 Division 2 race over 1200m, jockey Bernardo Pinheiro made his intentions clear early by sending Senor Don to the front from gate six in what was somewhat of a surprise, given the expected leader, Crystal Warrior (Louis-Philippe Beuzelin), had drawn inside in gate three.
With Sure Will Do (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) on his flank and the in-form From The Navy (Mohd Zaki) and Crystal Warrior on his heels, Senor Don kicked heading into the straight but had to fight hard to hold the trio at bay.
From there – and given his penchant for longer trips – he was always going to be hard to pass but yet to the surprise of many, the afterburners were turned on at the 200m and the Senor Candy gelding romped in to win by four-and-a-half lengths.
In an open-betting affair, SG$26 race favourite Legend Of The Sun (Iskandar Rosman) ran on well to finish second with Big Tiger (Wong Chin Chuen) a neck away in third. Senor Don clocked 1 min 10.7secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
The win – after combining with King Louis in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1700m – was an early double for the Le Grange stable and for Pinheiro. The Brazilian hoop went on to score a treble after the Kuah Cheng Tee-trained Lion Spirit won the $30,000 Class 5 race over 1700m.
“I don’t have words – I have been working very hard and learning a lot at trackwork every day and at the races every week,” Pinheiro told racing presenter Scott Bailey after Senor Don’s win.
“Thank you to all the trainers and owners who gave me lots of rides.
“I’m so happy with the winners and a double for Ricardo. I’m happy for him, the whole stable and the amazing team. They work very hard.”
With three wins and three placings from 20 starts, Senor Don has now earned over $180,000 in prizemoney for the Chelsea Stable.