FRESH from claiming the Inter City Pace with Persimmon, Sydney trainer Kevin Pizzuto is targetting back-to-back Newcastle Mile wins with Majordan and potentially Inter Dominion champion Tiger Tara.
Pizzuto scored the group 3 Hunter double for 2018 on Saturday night at Maitland when $2.70 favourite Persimmon cruised to victory in the 2422-metre Inter City Pace after a confident early move to the front from Chris Geary.
The Sydney reinsman took Persimmon back from the front-line start in gate five to sit third last in the running line as Pocket Of Terror led from Ashark, with Benalong Valley on the pegs third. But Geary caught them napping towards the end of the first lap, racing around the field and outsprinting Pocket Of Terror to take over.
After a lacklustre first-quarter mile rate of 31.2 seconds, Persimmon controlled the tempo with 30.2 and 29.6 sections before giving the opposition little chance with a 29.4 finish.
Persimmon beat the Craig Cross-trained Seeuinnashville ($10) by 4.8m in 2:02:4, which was slower than all of the previous Saturday’s heats. Trevor Munday’s Benalong Valley ($3.50) was a metre away third.
It was Persimmon’s fifth start for Pizzuto, who took the five-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding to Victoria, where he ran first and second, before the Maitland series. He was the fastest heat winner last week and showed his class in the 56th Inter City Pace final.
“He’s not a bad horse and Chris had his options there and he did a good job,” Pizzuto said.
“When I took him to Melbourne he was probably underdone but I wanted to work his fitness up. He didn’t have any trials going into Melbourne so those races were his trials.”
The 10th career win took Persimmon’s earnings past $85,000 from 53 starts and Pizzuto was eyeing more.
“He should win up to the $100,000 mark pretty fast that horse. He was running away from them on the line,” he said. “He’s just starting to wind up. He’s a bit lazy in front, too. As he gets used to my stable he won’t get lazy after a few months.”
The victory caps a big year in the Hunter for Pizzuto, who claimed the group 3 Newcastle Mile in May when Majordan smashed the track record in 1:51:4.
Pizzuto was looking to more success in the race, which has now become a group 1 Miracle Mile qualifier with $100,000 in prizemoney on February 8.
He said Majordan was “definitely getting set up for the Newcastle Mile” and Tiger Tara could also run.
Tiger Tara stormed to a Inter Dominion final win at Melton this month and will chase more group 1 success in Perth. Pizzuto said his eight-year-old star may start in the Newcastle Mile if he pulls up well from the trip.
Geary, meanwhile, was thrilled to score his first Inter City Pace win.
“I thought they were either going to go really hard early and put a lot of pace in the race or they would find their spots and back right up, which is the way they went,” Geary, 21, said.
“It probably forced me to make a move a little early but I was confident with his good turn of foot that he might be able to get around. It was a bit of a gamble but it worked out well in the end.”
Another young Sydney driver, Josh Gallagher, had a winning double on the night with Squire for boss KerryAnn Turner and Halfway Holme for Sawyers Gully trainer Cameron Davies.
It was a good night for the locals with Geoff Dorn (Mista Taptoe Lombo), Jamie Bond (Rococo), Stacie Elliott (Our Bushwacker), Michael Osborn (Exterminate), Peter Neilson (Elite Bobby) and Chris Bourke (Sunday Sesh) all training winners on their home track.
Maitland driver Brad Elder showed toughness to bounce back and win on Elite Bobby after an accident in race four when catapulted off a fallen Oh Stanley into the track face first.