Spanish Bay lands Saas Fee Stakes in Stewards' room

Michael Lee

Trainer James Peters may have been plying his trade for only six months at Kranji, but he was again thrust into the limelight of a feature win, his second, on Sunday, thanks to Spanish Bay’s brave win in the $200,000 Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes (1400m).

After Titanium gave the young English handler a first Group success in the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup back in May, it was Spanish Bay’s turn to add another feather to his cap.

Interestingly, both winners drew lukewarm support before their race and came up trumps following a bit of riding reshuffle, but it didn’t stop them from striking the big time. 

Spanish Bay (Nooresh Juglall, No 2) keeps Alibi (Derreck David) at bay to land the Group 3 Saas Fee

A’Isisuhairi Kasim was called up for the ride on Titanium after Manoel Nunes was struck down with kidney stones, and for Spanish Bay, it was not so much a replacement at the eleventh hour, but Nooresh Juglall was booked after regular rider Shafiq Rizuan could not take the ride given fellow Saas Fee Stakes contender Alibi is part-owned by his mother-in-law.

Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, Juglall sent the bold frontrunner straight to the lead from the backstraight, never to relinquish it throughout the seven-furlong trip.

The race was arguably won when the Mauritian jockey just cuddled the $65 outsider onto the steel within his own steam. Once that fine piece of riding was put astern, the rest was just a matter of conserving as much petrol for the business end, and praying nothing flies in from the pack.

If there was to be a threat, it came in the shape of lightweight chance Alibi, ridden by replacement jockey Derreck David (Vlad Duric could not make 51.5kgs) inside the last 300m.

Spanish Bay was well clear at the 300m but started to roll out under pressure while Alibi was grinding away at the lead on the outside, albeit with an inclination to lay in while being fully ridden out.

A bumping duel looked inevitable, but like the two repelling poles of a magnet, no contact was made, though, with Spanish Bay, as if spurred on by the approaches from Alibi, conjuring up another gear to hold a neck to spare on the line.

The battle for third place was fought out between $16 joint-favourites Nova Strike (Nunes) and Magnum (Corey Brown). Nova Strike, who enjoyed the gun run in the box-seat, ran out of his skin as usual, but again had to settle for a place, finishing third another 1 ¼ lengths away while Magnum, blighted by his wide draw, stormed home late to run fourth another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 21.92secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.