The heats of the Group Three SA Oaks kicked off with an upset on Thursday night at Angle Park when the short-priced favourite Mepunga Hayley (1) was knocked off by the locally experienced chaser Emerley Senorita (8). The finish was a tight one with the barest of margins separating the three place-getters, but Emerley Senorita, a brindle bitch by El Grand Senor and Emerley Charmer (Big Daddy Cool – Eudunda Eudunda) did enough to bring up her ninth win at the track and record a personal best of 29.85 in the process.
The Peter Hurley trained Emerley Senorita began sweetly from box eight and got a clear passage across the field to hit the lead around the first turn. Eventual runner up Mepunga Hayley got into second and third place-getter Frattini (2) had her head down chasing her heart out. Mepunga Hayley looked to have Emerley Senorita’s measure turning for home but Emerley Senorita shut her out on the rail and was able to score by a head over Mepunga Hayley with Frattini just a further three quarters of a length away in third.
The upsets continued in the second heat when another Victorian favourite, Oakvale Flyer (4), was defeated by double-figure odds chance Fratelli Fresh (5), who is trained by Dustin Drew. Fratelli Fresh was untouched at the start, taking advantage of the vacant box outside her. Honky Tonk Doll (7) showed her predicted early speed but she suffered some interference with White Spyro (8) rounding the turn and this cost her valuable momentum, leaving Fratelli Fresh on the lure. Oakvale Flyer was back on the rail in fourth at this stage.
Fratelli Fresh ended up a three-quarter length winner over Honky Tonk Doll and Oakvale Flyer. It was win number seven for the well-bred bitch by High Earner and Magic Capers (Spiral Nikita – Undermatched). She recorded 29.98 at her first look at the track under race conditions.
Things returned to normal in the third heat when Group One Sapphire Crown winner Oakvale Destiny (2) saluted for favourite punters. She didn’t have it all her own way and she showed great tenacity to overcome a poor start, get through the field and come away to score by an increasing margin in a fast 29.63. Best away was Spring Amanda (4), who looked a good thing once she led given she had been racing with some success over 700m. She wound up securing second spot over Boojerooma (1).
The Jeff Britton trained Oakvale Destiny had the benefit of racing at the track the week prior, finishing fourth. This week’s effort was much improved on that and this shows the Vapour Whirl and Foot Luce (Hallucinate – Scarlett) bitch will keep on improving at Angle Park, so it augers well for her chances in next week’s final.
In the final heat Oakvale Destiny’s sister, Footluce Diva (7), put her best foot forward to lead from go to whoa and record a personal best time of 29.72. Footluce Diva is trained in South Australia by Kenneth Trowbridge and this was win number three for her at Angle Park. The Victorian trained Unix Bale (3) claimed the last remaining spot in next week’s final finishing two and a quarter lengths behind Footluce Diva. Race favourite Eliza Blanche (6) ran on well for third.
The finalists are (in no particular order):
Emerley Senorita – Peter Hurley
Mepunga Hayley – Jeff Britton
Fratelli Fresh – Dustin Drew
Honky Tonk Doll – Sidney Topp
Oakvale Destiny – Jeff Britton
Spring Amanda – Wendy Matcott
Footluce Diva – Kenneth Trowbridge
Unix Bale – Steve Collins
The reserves will be Frattini and Boojerooma.