Pike unveils NZ Derby contender

Surely Sacred (Leith Innes) showing a touch of class when winning at Ellerslie today.

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike may have unveiled a major player in New Zealand’s three-year-old ranks.

That became evident after Surely Scared showed a devastating finish to win the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie today.

The Rock ‘n’ Pop gelding raced in the rear until jockey Leith Innes found some clear racing room at the 200m mark where he was able to unleash his charge and account for the rest of the field to win by three-quarters of a length over pacemaker Cantstopthefeeling.

“With the outside gate we were always going back,” Pike said. “The favourite (More Wonder) had a tough trip and he tried to follow that and he wasn’t taking him anywhere.

“Once he got into the clear he has got a great turn of foot. He is still learning as well. This is only his third start so he is an exciting horse going forward.”

It was a monumental result for Waikato Stud stallion Rock ‘n’ Pop with Surely Sacred recording his first stakes win as a sire.

Purchased out of Waikato Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft by Raffles Racing for $160,000, the three-year-old will now likely head towards the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at the end of the month before being aimed at the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).

“We’ll obviously discuss that (next target) with the owners, but obviously the Karaka Million is a big stake and a great night,” Pike said.

“They will all be over here so I’d say they will be leaning towards that. We’ll just get him home and see how he pulls up.

“He is out of Provocative’s (Gr.1 Queensland Oaks winner) family so there is a little bit of staying blood in there.

“It will be nice to think he can get a Derby trip, but he’ll tell us that on the way through.”

Innes, who also partnered the Tony Pike-trained Whiskey Neat to win the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes (1200m) earlier on the card, is excited about Surely Sacred’s future and believes he could be an ideal Derby horse.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “They weren’t going that hard up front. I got him out and pushed the button and he was there pretty quick.

“That’s his main goal I think, 2400m (Derby distance). He goes to sleep and shows that good turn of foot late in the piece so he’s going to be hard to roll.”

– NZ Racing Desk