Lone Star colours on Sugar Apple signal new partnership with top owner Trevor Casey
One of the country’s most successful owners has teamed up with Lincoln Farms and can’t wait for the first of his three two-year-olds to go round at Alexandra Park - in his own instantly recognisable black and white Lone Star colours.
Christchurch’s Trevor Casey, who has won hundreds of races and millions of dollars since he started racing horses in 1979, has taken shares in three of Lincoln Farms’ class of 2021, Sugar Apple, Next To Me and Nirvana Franco.
And while he’s not really expecting Sugar Apple to score from the outside of the gate in the first two-year-old race of the season in the north, he’s excited about what lies ahead.
When Casey saw Lincoln Farms’ new babies opened up for partnerships he figured it was the perfect tool to promote his new Lone Star restaurant on track at Alexandra Park.
And watching from the specially built front deck of the new joint right by the top of the home straight on Friday night will be restaurant manager Matt Hooper and his 20 staff.
“I’ve got Matt interested in the horses and he’s taken a share in Sugar Apple too,” Casey said. “The horse has drawn so wide he’ll be able to wave to us as he comes past at the start.”
Casey, harness racing’s 2014-15 owner of the year, says he’s proud to have the Lone Star colours associated with Lincoln Farms.
“It’s a win-win for both of us. We can promote the horses through the restaurant and our patrons will be able to watch our colours go round.”
Not that Casey and his partner Kate Marriott need any more horses.
“I’ve got shares in 20 horses racing at the moment plus 20 broodmares. We’ve had 17 foals this year and leased out 20 yearlings.”
Casey is going hard to promote his former triple Jewels winner Sky Major as a stallion and has spread his first youngsters all around the place with multiple trainers.
“Hopefully we will have a few of them racing from Lincoln Farms in due course.”
Casey says he was very impressed when he visited Lincoln Farms’ Pukekohe farm and stable.
“All the two-year-olds looked magnificent. I was really impressed with their condition and how they ran. I think Ray (Green) is going to have a good season.
“I really liked Sugar Apple even before I looked at his breeding. I watched him work, he was one of my top picks, and Zac (Butcher) was very positive about him.”
Sugar Apple is a half brother, by Sweet Lou, to Lincoln Farms’ top three-year-old American Dealer and not surprisingly that colt’s American owners Gordon Banks and Marc Hanover have also taken a share, along with Grant Dickey, Ian Kedzlie and the Chisholm brothers’ Chissos & Whack syndicate.
Sugar Apple, at $30,000, was one of the cheapest horses Lincoln Farms’ owner John Street bought at NZ Bloodstock’s Karaka yearling sale, but Green rates him in his top three, not far behind Friday’s race rival Argyle who, at $210,000, was the most expensive.
Argyle best chance from the draw
Green says there’s not much between Sugar Apple, Argyle or his third runner Simply Sam.
“If push came to shove I’d have to say Argyle will be our best early runner. He’s a big, powerful boy and from the one draw looks to have the best chance of our three on Friday night. But he might not necessarily be the best horse in the end.
“None of ours have been tested fully yet. They’ve been trialling well but we haven’t asked much of them.
“You can’t fault what Sugar Apple has been doing at the workouts and trials. He’s a neat little horse and I’m picking he’ll go a good race. Drawing wide will inconvenience him a bit. He’ll go back and hopefully get home really well.”
Simply Sam, an American Ideal colt out of six-race winner Simply Stunning, was another of Green’s cheapie yearlings at just $25,000.
But there’s nothing bargain basement about the horse, says Green.
“He’s an improving horse, I like him a lot. I think he’ll be the big improver.
“If Argyle holds up from one, and he can sit behind him, he won’t be far away.”
Green says while he’s not confident of winning the race on Friday night - he likes the Frank Cooney/Tate Hopkins-trained Ohoka Creed who is unbeaten in three workouts and trials - he expects all of his runners to go well.
“It’s early days for them. I’m not really worried about winning as it’s not an important race. So long as they get round well, I’ll be happy.”
Likewise, Green won’t be judging Major Grace too harshly on her first two-year-old outing against the fillies, having drawn the outside of seven in race nine.
“That’s a tough draw for her. If she’d drawn in closer I’d have been happier.
“But she’s a nice filly and won’t be far away.
“She’s been trialling well and they went 2:00 the other day, 2.7 seconds faster than the colts.”
The Art Major filly is from a family Lincoln Farms has had a lot of success with and features the good performers Make Way and Man Of Action, now racing in Australia.
Brave last start winner Captain Nemo closes out Lincoln Farms’ contingent in the final race and Green is hoping he can go close again in a similar strength field.
Captain Nemo was parked then took over 1200 metres from home at Cambridge and, while hotly challenged in the run home, staved off allcomers to win by a neck.
It was his second win, both at Cambridge, and that, says Green, is the only question mark.
“He hasn’t got the greatest record at Auckland. He tends to hit a knee going that way. He was good the other day at Cambridge. If he doesn’t pummel his knees he shouldn’t be too far away.”
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Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Frisco Bay
“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”
Race 2: Lenny Lincoln
“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”
Race 3: Obadiah Dragon
“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”
Race 3: Leo Lincoln
“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”