It promised to be a keenly contested affair, but no-one expected the 2012 Queensland Derby to be such a frantic race, with three different dogs holding the lead at some stage.
With the major players all making it through to the Group 2 final, there was plenty of talent on display. Punters had a hard time deciding on a popular pick, but eventually it would be Wild Ace who would start $2.60 favourite on Tattsbet from the two alley, ahead of Seldom Said ($4.60) who had the benefit of the rails draw and McElle ($5.20) was also given excellent chance in the race.
Once the lids opened, it was McElle in fact, who blistered across the face of the field from box six. Leading by over a length with a lap to go, McElle’s fortunes were soon about to change, along with the complexion of the race. Once Wild Ace had buried up on the inside, it shifted ground sharply to the outside, severely checking McElle who dropped back sharply.
Race Outsider, Blue’s On Parade ($50.10) also suffered a check amongst the scrimmage, while Bellagio Lad ($19.60) was forced to the extreme outside after being midfield from box eight.
Seldom Said had managed to overcome a fair getaway to scoot to the lead by the time the field had reached the back.Whirlwind Dexter ($7.60) had not given up the chase, nor had Blue’s On Parade who had got going again.
Turning for home and Seldom Said was in front but vulnerable. Bellagio Lad was using all its momentum to make good ground out wide. After straightening for the judge Bellagio Lad had too much in reserve, drawing away from an impressive victory, running the Albion Park 520m 30.43. Starting from box eight was no doubt a contributing factor in the win, enabling the dog to avoid any major interference early in the race, and giving him a chance to use that large stride of his to advantage.
Seldom Said would hang on for second place ahead for of Blue’s on Parade who was game in defeat. Wild Ace was not far behind the leading trio, neither was Whirlwind Dexter who was honest as always. Unfortunately for the Queensland racing scene, McElle was unable to complete the course after coming off second best on the first turn carnage.
The winning greyhound, Bellagio Lad, had given trainer Ron Ball a very handsome prize of $40,000, which triples what the dog had earned previously. By Big Daddy Cool out of Ultra Swift, the black chaser has started 19 times, all in its home state, with 7 wins now recorded.
The undercard on the night saw the ladies take to the track, in eight heats of the Queensland Futurity. Also a national Group 2 race carrying $40,000 to the winner, the series attracted four very even heats, with Graeme Bate bringing a small team up North to Albion Park.
Fortoula Bale made the trip worthwhile for Graeme, coming from behind to score narrowly in 30.49. Also qualifying for the final was Savarna Gold in 30.40, Smart Babe in 30.43, and Katie Merry who was sped home in 30.30. The field will be rounded out by Lucky Star, Got a Moment, Aladdin’s Queen and Bessy Blue.
With all four heats being run within three lengths of each other on times, the box draw will play a huge part in proceedings come final time next Thursday night.