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Simply Sam (Brianna Thomas) is ready to make up for lost time. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

With derby aspirations, Simply Sam should put away his maiden rivals on Friday night

Simply Sam’s owners have had to be patient but co-trainer Ray Green expects the colt will show why he rates him a derby contender when he lines up at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Drawn the pole in the third race, Green says Simply Sam should have too much class for his six maiden rivals, his 40x formline hiding a series of frustrating setbacks.

“He’s a very nice horse, he’s clearly our best three-year-old and I’ve got high hopes for him.

“I just hope he vindicates my faith in him being a possible derby horse.”

Little has gone right for Simply Sam since he debuted 13 months ago with an eye-catching fourth at Auckland.

Co-trainer Ray Green has high hopes for Simply Sam.Co-trainer Ray Green has high hopes for Simply Sam.After drawing one on the second row and racing three deep, Simply Sam closed strongly behind Casino Action, Argyle and Major Perry.

His last mile of 1:59.1 was the second fastest in the race behind the winner and he paced the equal fastest last 400 metres in 27.8.

Green put the colt away after that to let him get over his growing pains before trying him again 10 months later at Auckland when he was sent out a hot favourite.

But it became apparent right at the gate release that all wasn’t right when the colt paced roughly, Green at first thinking someone must have let his hopples out by mistake.

Simply Sam quickly lost 10 lengths before finding his rhythm but galloped 1400 metres from home and never looked like pacing properly from then on.

Heart fibrillation

When examined after the race, the horse was found to have fibrillated, completely exonerating him from not knowing where to put his feet.

“Nobody really knows why horses fibrillate but nine times out of ten it never happens again.

“We’ve had horses do it previously and they’ve been fine after we’ve got some electrolytes into them.”

Simply Sam’s heart rectified itself and was beating normally the next morning and Green said he had caused no concern since.

But two weeks later when Green was ready to try him again a leg blew up and he became quite lame.

That’s when it was discovered he had had an abscess which had blown out of his heel.”

Green believes that could have explained the horse’s gait issues in the previous few weeks, suspecting it might have been brewing for a month.

Simply Sam’s return was further delayed when a virus crept through the stable but Green believes the three-year-old is now ready to make up for lost time.

Though annoying, Green believes all the hold-ups could have been a blessing in disguise for Simply Sam.

“He’s had soundness issues, growing pains with soft bones. He’s grown quite a lot. He’s quite a big horse now and he was never big earlier. It’s hard for them to grow and race at the same time.”

Trialling well

Simply Sam has looked good in his recent hitouts, beating race rival Themighty Miki in a Pukekohe trial on February 10 then unleashing a big finish to all but nail Themighty Miki in a workout nine days later.

“After two runs I’d like to think he’s ready,” says Green. “Everybody is looking forward to seeing how he goes. It will be interesting to see how competitive he is.

“You don’t want to get hopes up too high - you only set yourself up for disappointment - but we could have a dab at the derby, depending on how well he races and the feedback we get back from the driver.”

Green says he’d need to find another race for Simply Sam before the $250,000 Northern Derby (mobile 2700m) on March 25. One week earlier the $25,000 Northern Derby Prelude (mobile 2200m) will be run.

If that all comes around too soon, Green says there’s plenty of time for the horse to get his street smarts before the $250,000 New Zealand Derby at Addington on December 2.

If he goes ahead in the right direction a trip to Brisbane for the Queensland Derby in July could even be on the cards. The stable’s top three-year-old American Dealer won the winter carnival feature there last year.

That’s something to look forward to for owners John and Lynne Street, Kim Miller, Bob Best, Priscilla Edmunds, the Red and Blue Syndicate and the Green Machine Racing Syndicate.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Cambridge

Race 3: Lincoln Lou
6.39pm

“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”

Race 5: Commander Lincoln
7.31pm

“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”

Race 8: Onyx Shard
8.55pm

“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”

Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
8.55pm

“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”

Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
8.55pm

“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”

Race 9: Frisco Bay
9.22pm

“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time

“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”

Race Images - Harness