WHILE maiden performer Premier Zed failed to take out the Group 2 Warrnambool Classic (450m) on Wednesday night, the effort of the Premier Fantasy x Cairnlea Ellie black dog to even make the final eight was, without doubt, a monumental effort.
To recap, Premier Zed finished second in his heat and then second in his semi-final to take his racing record to nine starts for three seconds and two thirds. Over 450m at Warrnambool his record was even more impressive, with three seconds and one third from six attempts.
Since the inaugural Warrnambool Classic in 1991, Premier Zed was only the second maiden performer to qualify for the final, but remains the first fully-fledged maiden to run in the final.
If that sounds a little confusing then consider the form of Formula Fox, the first maiden performer to qualify for the Classic final. The year was 1998. Formula Fox had raced six times for two seconds, two thirds and a fall prior to contesting the Warrnambool Classic heats in April. After running third in the heat, Formula Fox made it through to the Classic final by finishing second in its semi-final. That was on April 15. The Classic final was scheduled for April 22.
Obviously, the connections of Formula Fox were not confident of doing very well in the semi-final, and so the dog had been nominated for a maiden over 440m at Shepparton on April 19. No prizes for guessing what happened: Formula Fox broke its maiden status with a victory and then backed up three days later and ran a respectable fourth behind Witch Honcho in the Classic final.
Malawi Rhode, who made the 2002 Classic final, began the series as a maiden, but took out its heat at what was its third start.
So, Premier Zed is, at this stage, still the only maiden to have run in a Warrnambool Classic final.
While it is rare for a maiden to make a major race final, down through the years a select few have managed to actually break their maiden status by taking out the big event for which they have qualified.
In 1964 the Vic Peters Memorial Classic was taken out by maiden performer Bongearon. Not surprisingly, Bongearon was also the rank outsider at 50/1 ($51.00).
Lightning struck twice more in the Vic Peters Memorial Classic with maiden performers taking out the prestigious event. In 1973 the Bob Doak-trained future track star Kim’s Monaro notched her first victory by annexing the final and in 1979 the somewhat grandiosely-named Scott Of Minmi became the third maiden to pass the post first as its maiden victory.
To the best of my knowledge, no other maiden has ever taken out a major race in Australia. Which simply emphasises the rarity of a maiden making a major final in the first place.